When you think about how painful teething must be, you’ll want to do anything to help your baby. As adults, dental pain is usually the worst. Once it starts, it’s impossible to ignore and it causes stress and headaches. Any pain related to your teeth is constant and excruciating. When a baby is teething, that pain is all over his or her mouth. Every tooth is poking its way up through the gums slowly, which is why your baby will be cranky and irritated through the teething process. Unfortunately, there is no way to speed the process up, but there are ways you can work on alleviating the pain. However, one age-old remedy is definitely not recommended by doctors.

You’ve probably seen TV shows or movies where a mother puts a drop of whiskey on her baby’s gums to soothe the pains of teething. In fact, your mother might have even done it to you when you were a toddler. It’s an old wives’ remedy that was accepted for a long time as a reasonable form of pain relief. Not surprisingly, modern doctors strictly advise against it. Though it seems like such a small amount of alcohol, it is a lot when you consider the size of the baby. When an adult takes a shot of whiskey, you are consuming about an ounce of fluid, which is usually enough to start a buzz. When you give a baby a few drops of alcohol, you are giving him 0.01 of that amount, and when you think of his size in relation to an adult, it’s enough to cause some harm.

Alcohol is bad for babies because it slows down their systems. Babies are constantly growing rapidly, so any slowing could cause serious developmental problems and defects. When adults drink alcohol, it has temporary negative effects, but since they are full grown, it can’t cause any permanent harm in that moment. Babies cannot make up for the lost time of development when they consume alcohol though.

If you needed any more convincing, it is not okay to give a baby a few drops of whiskey on his gums to soothe his teething pain. Instead, try applying a cold washcloth to the gums or even massaging them and applying pressure with your fingers. Anything cold will help numb the sore areas, and teething toys work even better after spending time in the fridge.

Source: Lynn Smitherman et al: The Use of Folk Remedies Among Children in an Urban Black Community: Remedies for Fever, Colic and Teething. Pediatrics Volume 115 Issue 3 p. 287-304 March 2005

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