Much sooner than expected, it appears that Ben has started teething. The first sign was non-stop crying on New Year's Day - not the best start! In the evening my husband researched his symptoms and Ben had them all:
crying that seems due to pain;
dribbling (more than usual!) and chewing on fingers;
a swollen gum at the bottom, where the first teeth usually appear;
restless sleep. In fact he woke every hour the first night;
a slight rash around the mouth.
We gave him Calpol, which contains paracetamol, and it helped a bit, although it's quite hard to tell. Since then he's been better but there's clearly something going on. Once he looked me straight in the eyes with an outraged expression and practically pointed to his gums. Shame I can't explain to him that it's perfectly normal and that I sympathise!
Unfortunately teething can continue until children are three years old.
As well as Calpol, parents can use teething gel which contains a local anaesthetic, and give the baby teething rings and other toys to chew on. Some are filled with a gel which cools in the fridge. They can also be given a cold clean flannel to chew, or cold/frozen pieces of fruit such as melon or banana if the baby has been weaned. This is sadly not an option for Ben yet, as we're aiming to stick to the World Health Organisation's advice of six months, contrary to the grandparents' advice of any time now (16 weeks).
Once his teeth do start to "break through", we'll have to be scrupulous about brushing his teeth as part of his bedtime routine. Talking of routines, I'm working hard on setting designated times for naps and bedtime, and longer gaps between feeds. I'll update you on my progress next time.