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The Whole Tooth

Your guide to the ages and stages of development

As your baby steadily acquires her first teeth, you'll notice lots of other physical and emotional changes as well. But more and more health professionals are becoming convinced that some of the "side effects" of teething ? drooling, wakefulness and fever ? actually have nothing to do with the arrival of teeth.

For example, the excess drool often associated with teething is now thought to be a natural part of a child's development. At around 3 or 4 months of age, most babies begin to produce more saliva, and therefore drool more.

Babies who have begun sleeping through the night may begin to wake up again at around 8 or 9 months. Again, this is more likely a normal part of your baby's development than a result of teething.

While fever, diarrhea and a runny nose have long been associated with teething, they are actually symptoms of an infection. According to Dr. Jeffrey W. Hull, children between the ages of 6 and 30 months get an average of 20 little infections ranging from colds to viral infections. Considering a child is also getting 20 teeth over this same time, it's only natural that there will be some overlap. If your child has a fever, diarrhea or cold symptoms, talk with your doctor. (Learn more from Dr. Hull at www.drhull.com.)

Your child may experience some discomfort while teething, but most of her teeth will come in without either of you noticing. If your baby seems more fussy than normal, make a variety of chilled teethers available. Try a frozen banana, ice chips in a washcloth, or commercial snacks and foods, but don't force her to eat. If your baby is nursing, watch her feeding pattern. Toward the end of the feeding, when you notice that her sucking has stopped, remove her from your breast in order to stop her from biting.

?Debra Evans

Health writer, mother of four

Soothe a Teething Tot

? Let your baby chew on devices made of rubber (plastic can chip and splinter), such as a teething ring, pacifier or smooth toy. (Don't let her chew on a rubber nipple, as they can shred.)

? Provide limited pain relief. Consult with your baby's physician about the use of liquid acetaminophen (Children's Tylenol or Tempera) when teething pain is severe. Topical, over-the-counter oral anesthetics may temporarily numb affected gums but should be used sparingly?not routinely or over long periods?because your baby may develop sensitivity to specific ingredients contained in these products. Don't use pain relief remedies that contain alcohol ("rubbing" brandy or liquor) or a narcotic (paregoric or cough syrup containing codeine), even though these drugs were often used in previous generations and may be recommended by older family members.

? Give your baby lots of cuddles and love. If she's in pain, your presence can be the best medicine.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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