Patience, resources can help with teething toddlers

St. Ignatius of Loyola, Ijamsville, parishioner Maureen Ritcey DeGrange said that for the longest time, her oldest daughter, Kathryn, had only one tooth.

“My husband and I used to sing her a little song in Spanish, ‘Un diente’ (one tooth),” said Ms. DeGrange, a family nurse practitioner for a private practice in Frederick.

It didn’t take long though, before other teeth began peeking through her young one’s gums.

When children begin teething, the process can be just as trying for parents as it is for the child. But as a network of moms from St. Ignatius will attest, patience and the right resources can help.

“Any time you can’t solve the problem or ease the pain simply, it’s hard,” said St. Ignatius parishioner Tonya Hatosy-Stier, whose 17-month-old son, James, got his first tooth at 6 months old. “I had a couple of really restless nights with him, and I was tired and he was tired, and I just really felt for him.”

She said that her son, who is now getting a couple of molars, exhibits the same set of symptoms each time a tooth comes in.

“The first thing is he starts getting more agitated, has a shorter temper and his frustration shows more,” said Ms. Hatosy-Stier, who also has a 4-year-old son. “The second thing is he gets a runny nose, and the third is his appetite for food dwindles.”

To help ease her little one’s pain, Ms. Hatosy-Stier uses a teething pacifier that enables her to put an ice cube or piece of frozen fruit inside a net pocket. The apparatus is safe for her son to chew on and helps soothe his swollen gums.

“Giving him things to chew on that put pressure on his gums really helped,” she said.

Mother of two Melanie Ubil has a vibrating teether that can be placed in the refrigerator and has plenty of others on hand.

“They just want to chew so much,” said the St. Ignatius parishioner.

Ms. Hatosy-Stier said having a network of moms from her parish to rely on has been really helpful, and she encourages moms to go to the park or join a group and talk to other moms to find out about their experiences.

Ms. DeGrange said the average tooth eruption occurs at about 6 months old to 1 year- old for the first tooth, which is usually a bottom, front tooth.

She said some children may have a full set by 9 months old. She said her two daughters, Clare, 18 months, and Kathryn, 3, did not have teeth until they were 9 months old. She said symptoms of teething range from excessive drooling to low-grade fevers, to children who were sleeping through the night now waking up and crying. She advises parents to pay particular attention to what is lying around the house because children will probably be putting it into their mouths.

She said it takes a tooth about four or five days to cut through the gums, and “then it doesn’t seem to bother them as much.”

A child will have 16 deciduous (baby) teeth and four molars, which will be the last teeth to come in, she said.

“It’s always fun to watch because each child is so different,” said Ms. DeGrange.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.