Teething 101: Baby Teething Signs, Symptoms & Treatments

 

Smiling, Teething Baby

Teething: it can be an exciting yet stressful time for any parent. 

Especially those experiencing teething for the first time! 

But whether your little one pulls through teething like a champ, or is champing at the bit for some teething relief, preparing yourself for when the first signs of teething begin to show will ensure the teething process is a smooth, stress free experience for all involved.

What Is Teething?

Teething is the process that transforms your little one’s gummy grin into a smile full of pearly whites. A process that starts when your baby’s teeth - also commonly called ‘milk teeth’ or ‘deciduous teeth’ - emerge through the gums.

This journey actually begins well before the first signs of teething. In fact, your baby’s teeth start to develop while they’re still growing in the womb. This is when the teeth buds form, later emerging through the gums some time after birth.

Baby Teething Signs & First Teeth

Often referred to as ‘cutting teeth’, rest assured that your baby’s teeth don’t actually cut through the gums. 

Rather, when the time comes baby’s body releases a mix of chemicals that cause the cells in the gums above the teeth to die and separate. 

This allows the teeth to emerge, which often happens in pairs.

Image courtesy Wikipedia

When Do Babies Start Teething?

Much like their sleeping habits, appetite and personality, the exact day that teething begins is unique to your little one. Even compared to babies born on the same day! The reason for this? It’s thought to be largely hereditary: If your teeth arrived early, chances are so will your baby’s!

On average, most grow their first teeth by the age of 6-7 months. While others can see them arrive as young as 2-3 months old. And in some cases? As late as a year. But whether they arrive early, late, or right on time, rest assured that this has no bearing on their health.

Did you know?

Some babies can be born with teeth! As crazy as it may sound, ‘Natal Teeth’ can be present at birth. And this occurs more than you might expect. In fact, it happens in around one in every 2,000 to 3,000 births.

The Stages Of Teething

The ‘When’ of your baby’s teeth may be unpredictable, but when they do finally show, the process continues in stages. As an example, one lower incisor will appear first. Followed closely by the second. And from there, the next set will begin to emerge.

All up? Your little one will be sporting their full set of teeth by 2 ½ to 3 years of age.

A Guide To The Stages Of Teething

Six Months
Lower front teeth (Lower Central Incisors).

Eight Months
Top middle teeth (Upper Central Incisors).

Ten Months
The two teeth to either side (Upper Lateral Incisors).
The bottom two teeth to either side (Lower Lateral Incisors).

Fourteen Months
First molars.

Eighteen Months
Canines

Two to Three Years
Second molars.

The Signs Of Teething In Babies & Infants

So we now know that baby’s teeth will likely begin to emerge at six months of age. Yet the signs that they’re on the way can show as many as 2 to 3 months earlier!

By familiarising yourself with the signs of teething, you’ll ensure you’re ready to react to whatever the troublesome teething stage throws at you. So while bub might not know why they’re upset, sore, or out of sorts, you will!

Baby Teething Tip: The truth is, no two babies will experience teething in the same way. So while some may show a handful of symptoms, others might exhibit each and every one.

Drooling

Baby Teething Signs - Drooling Baby

What we like to call ‘The Niagara Falls Of Baby Drool’, your little bub can begin to drool excessively from around 10 weeks of age. 

This will continue through to at least 3 to 4 months.

Baby Drooling Tip: 

Once the waterworks start, carry a cloth or tissue to mop up excess drool. This will help prevent chapping, which can lead to a red, sore rash.

Image courtesy Getty Images

Coughing & Gagging

This excessive amount of drool often results in an increase in coughing and gagging. Which is completely normal given how much saliva they’re producing. It has to go somewhere!

This shouldn’t be cause for concern; it’s a regular part of the teething process. And unless other signs of a cold accompany it, then little one is a-ok.

Teething Rash

With baby producing drool like it’s going out of fashion, this moisture can lead to teething rash as well as chafing, chapping and redness around the gums, mouth and lips. 

Teething Rash Tip: Products like Vaseline or Lanolin Ointment can be used to form a liquid barrier when applied to the chin and lips. This can help to keep baby’s skin moisturised, while also keeping the area dry and free from rash.

Biting & Chewing

Baby Teething Signs - Biting & Chewing

There’s nothing your little one enjoys more than chewing on anything within reach! 

Even so, an increased obsession with biting can be a sure sign that teeth will soon follow. 

This isn't a sign of aggression!

Rather, this is baby’s efforts to relieve the pressure from the teeth pushing up through the gums. So don’t be surprised to find your fingers becoming baby’s #1 chew toy of choice.

Irritability

Teething can cause bub to feel tired and irritable. Well, more than usual! Lasting for anywhere from a few hours through to a few days.

Crying

Some babies will progress through teething without so much as a peep. While others may suffer pain caused by the pressure of their teeth and the resulting inflammation of the gums. This can leave baby prone to the odd teary moment. 

Thankfully, the first teeth tend to be the most painful:  it’s a new feeling for your little one. Though as time goes on, they do become more familiar with the sensation, and the crying should subside as a result.

A Lack Of Appetite

The suction that comes with feeding can leave baby’s already sore mouth and gums that much sorer. So don’t be surprised if they’re less cooperative when mealtime comes around. The key here is patience and perseverance. Though if this persists longer than a day or two, it’s recommended that you check in with your Pediatrician.

Night Waking

Teething can increase the amount of time you and bub spend staring at the clock while the rest of the world is sound asleep. It’s best to let this run its course, if you can. But if bub can’t settle themselves, soothe them to sleep with some gentle rocking and patting.

Ear Pulling & Cheek Rubbing

Baby Teething Signs - Pulling At Ear

Here’s something you might now know: your baby’s ears and cheeks share the same nerve pathways as their gums. So teething pains can cause aches elsewhere.

If you find your little one pulling at their ears or rubbing at their cheeks, this may be why: it’s their way of easing the discomfort.

Ear Pulling Tip: Pulling of the ears is also an early sign of ear infection. Which makes it easy to confuse the two. If you think this might be the case, seek the opinion of your local GP or Pediatrician.

Image courtesy Parents

Symptoms That Shouldn’t Be Mistaken For Teething

The signs of teething makes for quite the list! But not every cough, splutter or niggle can - or should - be attributed to teething.

Contrary to what you may think, the following symptoms aren’t considered a normal part of the teething process. So if you find these persist for more than 24 hours, you should seek the opinion of your GP or Pediatrician.

Vomiting & Diarrhea

Diarrhea can occur during teething, though this isn’t considered normal. You see, babies aren’t picky with what they pick up and put in their mouths. More so when they’re trying to ease the discomfort of teething. It’s thought that this contact with germs can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, fever and vomiting.

A Fever

A slight rise in baby’s temperature is entirely normal. But a rise over 37c is considered a fever, and should be treated by a medical professional.

Baby Teething Remedies & Treatments

As a parent, there’s nothing worse than the inability to make the pain your child is feeling simply disappear. But while there’s no magic cure-all for the pains of a teething baby, what follows is a handful of time-honoured remedies that will soothe your little one and make the teething process a smooth one for parent and bub alike.

Chewing

As chewing or biting applies counter pressure to the teeth currently pushing through the gums - something baby will find incredibly soothing - you can easily turn this teething symptom into a teething remedy. Simply by encouraging them to chomp down on the following:

A Wet, Cold Washcloth

The only thing better than something to chew on, is something cold to chew on: the cold can help to gently numb the gums and provide much needed relief.

A cold, wet washcloth will do the trick. Just be sure to keep this in the fridge, rather than the freezer: extreme cold can actually cause more pain.

Silicone Teething Toys

Baby Teething Remedy - Little Bam Bam Silicone Teething Toys

Your bub’s obsession with reaching for everyday objects to chew on can be a continual source of stress. So Silicone Teething Toys are a safe, soothing, cost effective alternative.

Specially developed to provide baby with the relief they need, not only are they soothing for baby to chew on. But they’re also far safer than other alternatives such as rubber, plastic or wood. How so? Because Silicone Teething Toys use a silicone that:

Is 100% food grade rated.
Is BPA free.
Contains no traces of lead, phthalates, heavy metals or cadmium.

Amber

Baltic Amber Jewellery

Historically, Baltic Amber was renowned for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties, having been used for centuries to ease the pain and discomfort of teething. Nowadays, many parents swear by it as the perfect way to comfort their teething baby. 

Kids amber jewellery is currently available as necklaces, pendants and bracelets, and makes the perfect, safe gift for your little one.  

Massage

Gently massaging the gums with your fingers or a soft, wet toothbrush can apply enough counterpressure to soothe their irritation.

Cold Drinks & Food

Baby Teething Remedies - Cold Drinks

For little ones over six months old, a bottle of ice cold water can provide soothing relief from the turmoil of teething. 

And if you baby is old enough for food? 

Cold yogurt or fruit puree is another great option. Not only does it taste great, but it will help to numb those sore gums, too. And provide bub with much needed relief. 

Image courtesy Getty Images

Pain Relief

If all else fails, regular forms of pain relief including Infant Paracetamol and Ibuprofen may be your only option. As always, you should seek medical advice before administering any form of medicine.

Distractions

Whether it’s a favourite toy, a game of peek-a-boo or just plain ‘ol silly faces: distractions can prove to be a simple yet effective method of taking your baby’s mind off of those otherwise annoying teeth.

Baby Teething Remedies & Treatments To Avoid

Numbing Agents & Gels

Off-the-shelf numbing agents and teething gels can be an attractive option for a tired parent. But many sources - including the US Food & Drug Administration - recommend against the use of such products. Stating that ‘parents have safer alternatives’. Such as those we’ve explored above.

Alcohol

Rubbing brandy or other rubbing alcohols on bub’s gums should be avoided at all costs, as even the smallest amount of alcohol can be poisonous.

Useful Links For Parents

Baby & Mum With Teething Necklace

With these teething signs, symptoms and remedies now added to your parenting toolbelt, what was once a frightening unknown is now another exciting stage in your little one’s development. One you’re more than ready to face head on!

From here on out, parenting is bound to throw exciting new challenges your way. And whether you’re taking this journey for the first time, or walking a familiar track, our following list of helpful resources and further reading should make it that much easier for you and your little one.

  • Today’s Parent
    Helpful information, tips and guides on all aspects of parenting. Covering everything from gift ideas through to fun kids recipes and baby names.
  • Aha! Parenting
    Aha! Parenting is devoted to that parenting lightbulb moment: providing you with go-to guides and informative articles on every stage of your child’s life. From adorable newborn to troublesome teenager.
  • Huggies Australia
    Who else to turn to when things get a little messy than the #1 source for all things nappies: Huggies. Home to a wealth of information on every aspect of parenting.

Header image courtesy Flickr / PicturesByMom

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