Something babies can sink their teeth into

Hi Lisa,

I’m a pediatric occupational therapist and sensory specialist and would like to comment regarding tried and true remedies for teething.

Babies are seeking deep pressure touch stimulation when teething. The tactile (touch) sensory system calms with deep pressure touch. It’s why we swaddle our infants for a good nights sleep, give our toddlers a hug when their upset, and feel much more relaxed after a massage.

When teeth are erupting, the surrounding gum tissue is hypersensitive and sore. When infants bite teething toys, this places the pressure on the tip on the erupting tooth, which can often cause more discomfort. The interior of the mouth, tongue and gums have thousands of tactile receptors that are firing away when a baby is teething. Deep pressure touch is a very effective method to reduce this “fire”.

If erupting area is red and swollen, prior to deep pressure touch, a frozen wet washcloth should be placed on the sore area to decrease the swelling through vasoconstriction of the surrounding blood vessels.

Deep Pressure Touch Technique for Teething:

The parent should gently (but firmly) create pressure on the infant’s gum area surrounding the eruption site using the pad of their index finger. If the infant pulls away from this stimulus, discontinue immediately as they are too sore and return to using frozen teething toys or washcloth. If the infant appears to like this deep pressure touch stimulation, continue for ~ 1 minute duration on both sides of the eruption area. Be careful not to get bit by going into the infant’s mouth by pulling away the cheek area.

The parent should avoid rubbing the gum, as this could further aggravate the already sensitive gum tissue.

Have a GREAT day!


Cris Rowan, BScOT, BScBi, SIPT, Approved Provider AOTA
CEO Zone’in Programs Inc.
6840 Seaview Rd.
Sechelt, BC V0N3A4
604-885-0986 office, 604-885-0389 fax, 604-740-2264 cell
email crowan@zonein.ca
website www.zonein.ca