Q&A: helping a toddler with molars coming in (now with Update)

UPDATE: He seems to have solved his own problem by grabbing and biting into a travel-size bar of Lever 2000 soap. He really didn't like it at all at the time, but didn't seem to have any teething pain for the rest of the day. It must be the soap. Soap cures teething pain. You read it here on the Internet, so it must be true!

I'm having a problem of my own (which caused this post to be late), so I thought I'd walk myself through it as if I'd written myself a question*, and then get your suggestions, too.

"My son is 15 months old and is getting his bottom molars. The ones on the left have just poked through, but the right ones are still under the surface. For the past two days all he's wanted to do is complain and nurse. And nurse and nurse. It's just like the 6-week growth spurt, when he nursed around the clock for 72 hours, only this time he yells "Mamaaaaa! Nuhhhhrrrr!" and throws himself on the floor and pounds his fists and wails when I unlatch him. My secret super-mix of Humphrey's #3 and baby ibuprofen, which usually helps him a lot, seems to have no effect. I'm going a little bit nuts."

We all know that it will eventually pass once the molars come in. The trick is surviving until that happens. Keep giving the Humphrey's #3 and baby ibuprofen when he seems really antsy--even if it only gives him a little relief it's worth it.

To get a little relief from the constant nursing, see if you can distract him with fun toys or activities, or get your older child to play with him (this only works, of course, if you have an older child).

Make sure he's getting enough other fluids. Some kids find cold seltzer water (aka "bubble water") to be soothing or at least distracting. I don't think seltzer mixes well with sippy cups (the pressure of the bubbles and the valve can cause fizzy wet explosions), but it's fine out of a straw cup or out of a regular cup that you hold for a toddler that young.

Other suggestions are frozen mini-bagels, popsicles that you make or buy (if you buy them, watch out for articicial colors and flavors, which can make your child hyper and stoned in addition to cranky and in pain), and cold fruits and vegetables like baby carrots, cucumber, and melon pieces.

If all else fails, see if you can either mesmerize him with some TV ("It's a Big Big World" is my favorite new show on PBS Kids), or give in and mesmerize yourself with some TV while you nurse him (the "America's Got Talent" finale is on on Wednesday night with the Hoff).

Anyone else? What got you through the first molar phase?

* Whenever I complain about something one of the kids has done, my husband snickers, "Why don't you write and Ask Moxie what to do?" Dork.