Many of us have experienced the joy of seeing our baby’s first teeth; however, before those cute little teeth come in, teething happens. When babies begin teething, it can be a painful ordeal for both parent and baby. Late nights and grumpy kiddos tend to rock parents’ worlds for several months, but fear not! We have compiled a parent’s guide to teething to help you conquer those few challenging months with your little one. We’re here to answer the big questions you may face while loving on your teething baby.
When Do Babies Start Getting Teeth?
Most infants begin showing teeth between 4 and 7 months of age, but it’s not uncommon for a baby’s first tooth to come in around their first birthday. In rare cases, babies are born with one or two front teeth already.
The first teeth to push through are usually the bottom, front incisors, followed shortly by the upper incisors. Next come the teeth just beside those first incisors. Last to appear will be the molars and the eyetooth. All teeth should be in by your child’s 3rd birthday. (If they seem to be taking much longer than 3 years, contact your doctor).
What Are the Symptoms of Teething?
Common symptoms include:
Drooling: Babies tend to drool more than usual during teething. You will want to be sure to keep on top of wiping up their little faces because the saliva could cause an uncomfortable rash on the face and chest. Keeping a clean cloth on hand for mopping up the drool should suffice to keep that cute little face rash free.
Chewing: Another common symptom is chewing. You might find that a number of strange things make their way into your baby’s mouth. Infant gums tend to swell or feel sore so gnawing on hard objects helps to relieve some of the pressure in their mouths. Keep clean, firm teething toys nearby for your baby, to avoid the risk of something dangerous making its way into their mouth.
Crankiness: This one is an obvious symptom. Your baby’s mouth feels tender, making them a smidge grumpy. If your infant seems cranky for weeks at a time, you should contact a doctor because your little one may have an ear infection or something else may be irritating them.
Trouble sleeping: Most babies sleep fine during teething, but it’s nothing to worry about if they seem a little restless.
A few other common symptoms include sore gums and refusing food.
Some people claim that their babies experience diarrhea when teething, but experts don’t believe that teething is the cause of diarrhea. Babies do tend to swallow more saliva while teething, which may loosen their stool some, but they should not experience extreme diarrhea. If your baby has diarrhea for extended periods of time contact your pediatrician because something else is likely causing the problem—not teething. If your baby runs a high fever, contact a doctor as well.
How Can I Ease My Infant’s Discomfort?
Teething toys: Giving your baby something firm to chew on, like a cooled washcloth or a rubber teething ring is a great start. Pressure is building in their gums where the teeth are pushing through so having something to press against those tender areas makes little guys very happy. Ideally, you should put a toy or damp washcloth in the refrigerator to keep it cool, but if you don’t have any cool toys stored up you may pop one in the freezer for 10 minutes to cool it down. Never give an infant anything frozen. Frozen toys and cloths bruise gums and cause more pain. Also be wary of liquid-filled teething toys since infants might chew a hole in them and get the chemicals in their mouths. When using liquid-filled toys, just check it thoroughly before every use to make sure there are no punctures.
Momma’s fingers: Another great option is to gently rub a clean finger over your little one’s gums. Rubbing against the gums relieves pain and helps break down the gum tissue so the teeth will come through a bit quicker. If you begin doing this when your baby is first born, you will save yourself some potential heartache. By starting early, your baby will get used to having something stuck in their mouth and it keeps gums healthy from birth; especially if you give their mouths a quick rub after they eat.
Solid foods: If you feed solid foods to your baby, you may give them applesauce or chilled cucumbers and carrots. Be sure that you keep an eye on the baby when they have larger foods since little pieces could break off and be a choking hazard. Babies also enjoy teething biscuits. Again be aware so that they don’t choke on small pieces.
Child-safe pain relievers: Finally, if none of the above techniques prove successful, you may want to give your child a small dose of children’s Tylenol (acetaminophen). Always ask a doctor about the proper dosage. Never rub aspirin across a baby’s gums; it’s very unsafe to give anyone under 20 years of age aspirin because it can lead to Reye’s syndrome. Although rare, Reye’s syndrome can be life-threatening.
How Do I Keep My Baby’s Teeth Clean?
A simple brush over the gums with a clean finger works well when your baby is still toothless. Once they begin getting teeth, you should brush their teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush soaked in tap water twice a day. Tap water contains small amounts of fluoride (bottled water does not), which will keep your baby’s teeth strong. At the age of three, you may begin using a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. As long as your child is able to spit out the toothpaste, it’s safe to use.
It’s best not to give your baby a bottle when they go to bed because the milk or juice pools in the back of the mouth, causing tooth decay. You should take your child for their first dental appointment when they get their first tooth or by the time they are one year old. See our previous post on Poor Habits for Kids Dental Health for more tips like these.
Getting through teething can be difficult, but knowing how to combat your baby’s discomfort can make a world of difference. Be sure to keep an eye out for those little teeth coming in because the challenge of teething is worth it when you see that cute little toothy grin for the first time! For more advice and tricks, take a look at our Mom’s Guide.
Have you used any remedies for teething? Tell us about them. We’d love to hear what you did.