Is your teething baby not eating? Are you pacing as you wonder, “Do babies eat less when teething?” It can be stressful anytime it seems your growing little one isn’t taking in enough nutrition. Not to mention, it’s so upsetting to see them uncomfortable and in pain when cutting new teeth. The good news is, there are ways you can help.
First, we’ll establish whether babies do eat less when teething. Then we’ll talk about how to help if your teething baby isn’t eating. There are some tried-and-trusted strategies (as well as some unique ones) that can get them to eat, but if you ever think they are really not eating enough, you should contact their doctor.
Yes, babies may eat less when their mouths are sensitive from teething. Dr. Dina Kulik told Today’s Parent, “It’s OK, and normal, for babies to eat a bit less during teething.” It can be uncomfortable or painful for them to press their gums into the food when their gums are so sensitive. They may want to chew or feel averse to having utensils clanging against their teeth.
“As long as your baby is drinking fluids, the reduced appetite is not a concern,” Dr. Kulik continued. “Just keep offering food and your baby will feed again when the pain is gone.” However, if they are also refusing liquids, see the pediatrician to make sure they are staying hydrated.
Use a mesh feeder
A mesh feeder like the picture above lets your baby gum food like mango for a long time without having to take bites. These are great for frozen foods (or frozen cubes of puree, milk, or smoothie) or fresh fruits. It may get messy at the high chair but the texture of the mesh or the cold from the ice may be soothing and your child will also be slowly taking in some calories.
Give some Tylenol or Ibuprofen
If your child is four months old, they can take acetaminophen (Tylenol). At six months old, they are ready for Ibuprofen (Motrin). Both provide some medical relief from the pain could help your baby feel up to eating. Of course, you should always consult with a doctor before medicating. Numbing gels applied directly to the gums are not recommended.
Back to purees
Even if your baby has graduated from purees to more solid foods, while they are sensitive from teething they might not want to chew. Break out the baby food again and keep anything hard or chunky that needs to be chewed away for the moment. Soft foods like soup, mashes, yogurt, applesauce, hummus, scrambled eggs, and purees can be better tolerated during teething.
Provide something to gnaw on
On the other hand, some babies may want something hard to chew on instead of soft foods (they’re all different!). Sometimes, they want something to rub their gums against where the tooth is trying to burst through. Something like carrot sticks or whole green beans can be good for this, but it should be under supervision while seated.
Staying hydrated with milk and water is still very important, but you can also get your food in by drinking as well. Smoothies can have veggies, healthy fats, and protein powder hidden in with the fruits for a complete meal. The ice chips will help it be soothing at the same time.
Make it all cold
You can chill just about anything before serving it. Whatever you would have given at room temperature, even things like crackers, you can put in the fridge for a bit first. Anything frozen is perfect right now, like popsicles (make your own from kale smoothie for a meal on a stick). Think of naturally cool foods like cucumber slices which are great teethers.
Numb first, eat next
You can let your baby chew on a cold teether for a while before mealtime so their gums are numbed up to reduce pain while eating to get them ready to eat. They’ll be more likely to eat if they get to chew on something icy first.
The good news is that babies rarely stop eating long enough or severely enough to cause health issues due to eating less from teething. Always check with your pediatrician if you’re concerned, and always make sure your child is dirtying enough wet and solid diapers daily. Hopefully, with these tips and some time passing, you’ll be back on track.
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