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Terrible Teething Trials

Cranky? Irritable? Can't sleep? Not you  -- we're talking about your baby. If your tiny tot has any of these symptoms, plus excessive drooling and red, swollen gums, it's probably because your baby's first tooth is just around the corner. Teething will be one of the earliest challenges to your relationship with your baby as he struggles to produce that shiny, little pearly white. Here's how to soothe his discomfort  -- and yours, too:

Chill out. Offer him a cold teething ring or a frozen, wet washcloth to chew on. Or give him cool water in a sippy cup or bottle. offer a massage. Rub his gums gently but firmly with your clean finger.

Try medication. Ask your pediatrician about using a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (if he's older than 6 months) or acetaminophen, if your little guy is really miserable. A topical pain relief gel will be washed away rather quickly by drool, but can provide some relief.

Distract him. Read and reread his favorite book to him, as long as it seems to make him happy and keeps his mind off his kisser.

Take it easy. Give your baby extra cuddles and attention. Don't try any cry-it-out sleep methods right now. He needs lots of hugs and kisses, and a snuggle in your arms can take away the ouchies better than anything else.