Teething tips: How to cope when 2-year molars come in

Offering child food—like fruits and vegetables—can bring instant relief.

Teething tips: How to cope when 2-year molars come in

Teething is fun for neither parent nor child. And just when you think it's over, there's still one more set of teeth to come in.

Called the “two-year molars," the second primary molars usually make an appearance just after your child's second birthday, signaling the start of the entire teething process all over again.

If your child is two and you haven't seen these molars yet, don't worry, they usually come in by 33 months.

Teething is not enjoyable for any child. The tooth has to break through the gums, which can result in tenderness and swelling of the area. This eruption takes anywhere from one to seven days per tooth to occur, which means this isn't a “Give them children's Tylenol once at bedtime and they'll be all better" kind of problem. But the good news is that once the tooth is fully in the mouth, the associated pain goes away.

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Knowing your child won't be in pain in a week doesn't change the fact that your child is uncomfortable right now.

I've seen many unhappy parents, unable to placate their babies, who seem to be in just as much pain as their teething children. Some of this stems from unfounded concerns that teething will bring a host of problems to their kids, like fevers, respiratory problems, or diarrhea.

These others “symptoms" are usually coincidental, as teething is a natural part of child development and results in localized signs and symptoms, not systemic ones (i.e. seen throughout the body). And, assuming a fever or some other symptom is related to teething may cause a parent to overlook what the real problem actually is.

Another reason many parents feel helpless during teething is that the only recourse infants have for expressing pain is crying.

Good news, then, for parents dealing with two-year molars—your children are older now, and they likely will be able to let you know a little more specifically what is going on, allowing you to better address their pain.

Once you know your child is having pain from teething, there are a few things you can do to help and support them:

Use teething rings or your sanitized fingers to rub your child's gums.

The pressure from this action can help to soothe the area. If you're using a teething ring, make sure it is not filled with a liquid. These kinds of teething rings can actually burst open, making possible accidental ingestion a problem.

Have your child bite or suck on chilled food, like fruits or vegetables.

The coldness will decrease inflammation in the area, and the pressure from chewing also might help. Make sure that the foods aren't too cold, though. The Mayo Clinic warns that contact with frozen items in some cases actually can be harmful to the baby's mouth.

Over the counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) may help.

Just make sure you administer the appropriate children's dose. If you aren't sure what that is, contact your pediatrician.

Avoid using any topical anesthetic gel in your child's mouth.

The FDA warns that ingestion of these products can cause seizures, heart issues, and death in some cases. Additionally, amber teething necklaces or bracelets can pose both choking and strangulation risks, warns the American Academy of Pediatrics. The Academy also cites a lack of any science supporting their therapeutic benefits.

Finally, and most importantly, give your child attention.

Sometimes just distracting your child from the pain is a remedy in itself. In fact, one study showed that over 70 percent of mothers found this to be an effective remedy for teething.

To sum up: there will be tears, there will be pain, and you will at times feel helpless — but if you follow these simple steps, you can find relief for all involved.


This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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