for the toothless

What to feed a teething baby

Many babies begin teething around the same time that they begin eating their first foods - anywhere between 6 months and their first birthday will likely see the first tooth pop through. Typically this starts with the front top and bottom teeth (central incisors), followed by the lateral incisors right next door. After that usually come the first set of molars molars (10-14 months), canine teeth (usually 1-2 years), and then molars again (2-3 years). So, it’s a long journey for your little one - and may sometimes feel like a long one for you too!

As with everything, all babies follow their own developmental path. Some are toothy well before 6 months, some after they turn one. Some experience great discomfort and some are relatively unphased by it all! 

what-to-feed-teething-baby

Signs & symptoms of teething

The symptoms very widely from baby to baby. You may even find your little one shows a different symptom for every tooth that comes through! 

  • THE DROOL. So much drool. This is where soft bandana-style bibs come in handy. Wee man would often soak the front of his shirt with dribble without them - we would change them up to six times a day at one point! 

  • GRIZZLY BEHAVIOUR AND POOR SLEEP. Your sweet little baby may become very irritable during daytime and - to the pain of parents everywhere - throughout the night. They feel unsettled and uncomfortable, and they let you know about it. 

  • ROSY CHEEKS. Baby may look red and flushed, on one or both sides of their face. The rosy area may be warmer than the rest of their face. 

  • SORE GUMS. Baby’s gums may get quite sore, and if you peep inside their mouth you may even see a reddened, irritated area where the tooth is coming through. 

  • NEED TO CHEW. Baby will want to gnaw on just about everything - from their fist to your car keys. Give them teething toys, access to a teething necklace, and/or foods which are hard enough to satisfy the urge but gentle on their sore gums. 

  • A LOW FEVER. Baby may have a slight fever from teething. Do check that this isn’t a symptom of another illness. 

  • NAPPY RASH. Parents often report that babies develop a nappy rash and a sore bottom around teething time, although some argue that this is unrelated to teething. This may be caused by lots of saliva working its way into their digestive systems and causing runny poos. Either way, checking nappies often to keep baby’s bottom dry and clean is your best defence! Metanium was a real hero for wee man during this time. He'd never had nappy rash until a molar was trying to make its way through!

  • LACK OF APPETITE. You may find your babe doesn’t have much interest in eating during heavy teething moments - and that’s ok. Keep offering foods gentle on their gums, and be sure to offer as much of mum’s milk (or formula) as they’d like, to provide them with nutrition while they are feeling poorly. Read on for some tips on what to feed during these times. 

Teething babies can be picky customers when it comes to food.

First, it’s important to keep offering food even if they are not feeling up to eating. Keep up with regular milk feeds on demand, and supplement with solids as you would normally do. If baby leaves the meal on the tray, that’s ok - try again at the next meal. You may even find if you offer up these treats, they may come to see meal time as a relief from some of the icky feelings of teething! 

Foods to offer: 

  • Cold foods: Think smoothies made with frozen fruits, cold yoghurt, cold hummus, etc. You could even freeze a banana on a stick and let baby gnaw on the cool fruit until they gum it into mush! The cool sensation can be a blessing for hot and bothered gums. 

  • Foods to suck: Sucking motions can give some temporary relief. We used to put cold chunks of watermelon flesh into a mesh feeder that wee man could suck on and it seemed to really help him. Rice cakes also went over a real treat as they would essentially dissolve in his mouth. We topped them with mashed avocado, hummus and other purees we had stashed in the freezer. 

  • Hard foods: Some babies get relief from applying pressure on their gums while eating. As with frozen foods above, you could also try making some home-made teething biscuits (avoid the store bought varieties as they often contain sugar). 

  • Soft, mushy foods: Some babies prefer not to chew or gnaw at all while teething. You could offer a pre-loaded spoon with a thick soup or puree that your baby can feed themselves, or go for softer foods like avocado slices which don’t require much chewing at all. 

What to avoid: 

  • If your baby has sore inflamed gums, citrus and other acidic foods can sting. 

  • You likely already avoid them, but take extra care not to offer salty or spicy foods as they may also cause irritation. 

Don’t stress

It can be tough to watch your little one in pain, but know that this stage - as with all others! - will indeed pass. Provide comfort, cuddles and encouragement and your baby will come through it with a beautiful toothy smile 😃  

Learn how to introduce solids to your baby

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Beautiful bibs that combat feeding time mess

We went through SO. MANY. BIBS. in our house over wee man's first few years. Between copious amounts of dribble, food stains and spit-ups, we cycled through a ridiculous number of bandanas, but they saved his lovely shirts and onesies! 

I've just discovered Amazon's Handmade store - they are now selling gorgeous artisan-created products - and they have a prolific amount of soft and stylish bandana bibs. Have a look and support creative entrepreneurs: 

They also carry beautiful teething necklaces for babies to have a chew on - great for baby-wearing or breastfeeding mums. Some are made from BPA and food-grade silicon, others from natural wood and crocheted cotton - either are perfect for easing the sore gums and teething discomfort that usually coincides with weaning. And they look nice for mum too!

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Recipe: Baby's Cannelloni Stuffed with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Ricotta

Wee man is teething. Like, really teething – we think we’ve seen 8 of the little toothy bastards pushing down through his little gums. Poor muffin has been having trouble with solids for the last two days, with any kind of harder texture making it a bit agonising for him to chew. Wee man has been so enthusiastic about skipping spoon feeding and forgoing purees, that it does leave us with few options when he has moments like this. So today we made some baby cannelloni – soft and squishy on his gums, full of yummy goodness to get him through a tough week. They are easy to pick up and handle, either in whole form or cut into slices.

This recipe is perfect for using up leftovers, since with stuffed pasta the variations are endless. It’s also freezer-friendly. Just be sure to freeze the cannelloni separated on a tray first, before putting into a freezer bag, so that you don’t have a big wad of pasta stuck together in one lump.

Wee man inspects his lunch…

Wee man inspects his lunch…

I never claimed it wasn’t a messy meal…

I never claimed it wasn’t a messy meal…

Witness the carnage!

Witness the carnage!

Recipe: Baby’s Cannelloni Stuffed with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Ricotta

Makes: 12 cannelloni tubes

Ingredients

  • 12 cannelloni tubes (ready for the oven)
  • 2 cups roasted and mashed/pureed butternut squash (mine was leftover from our dinner so was loaded with unsalted butter)
  • ½ cup ricotta
  • 2/3 cup spinach, cooked and roughly chopped
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (if using canned or tinned, check the salt content, or make your own)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Grated cheese (you can use cheddar, mozza, parm or anything really, just check the salt content for the quantity you use)
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil, chopped

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash with spinach, ricotta and seasoning.
  2. Grab a baking dish that will fit all of your lovely cannellonis, and smear the olive oil on the bottom with a few tablespoons of the tomato sauce.
  3. Fill each cannelloni with the squash, spinach and ricotta mixture. You can pipe it through a corner of a plastic bag, or use a small teaspoon. If you have trouble getting the mixture to move all the way through, give it a poke with your finger or the skinny end of a spoon.
  4. Arrange cannelloni in the baking dish, leaving a bit of space between each. Cover with remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle on grated cheese.
  5. Bake at 200c/180c fan/gas mark 6 for about 30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly, cheese is golden and pasta is cooked.
  6. Garnish with basil and serve after cooling.

Variations

Stuffed pasta has endless options. In fact, the recipe above can be varied in terms of amounts – if you have less ricotta and more squash, no big deal. Just remember to keep the mixture a bit wet, with either tomato sauce or ricotta, or you may find your cannelloni tubes get a bit crunchy in the oven. Here are some different ingredients to try:

  • Cooked minced beef or pork with sautéed garlic, mushrooms and onions
  • Finely diced leftover chicken with sauteed peppers
  • Well steamed kale or other greens
  • Roasted aubergine and courgette

Learn how to introduce solids to your baby

Get the FREE 5-day course and learn how to wean well. Sign up for First Foods Fundamentals to start your baby-led weaning journey, step-by-step, with lessons delivered to your inbox!