Teething can be a difficult time for parents and babies, as it can cause discomfort for your little one. Although some babies experience less discomfort than others, it is still important to make sure you understand the signs and symptoms, and what you can do to help. Discover what you need to know about baby teething below:
What is baby teething all about?
The little white milk teeth appear at some point after birth, usually during baby’s first year. However, unlike the excitable six year old who will be keen to pull out their wobbly teeth in anticipation of the tooth fairy, your baby is experiencing a new first. It can sometimes be a breeze, but it can also hurt, cause discomfort, and certainly throw your nicely established routine out of the window.
The first thing to remember with teething is that, as with all milestones, different babies get their first teeth at different ages, and experience different levels of symptoms. It’s all ‘normal’.
It’s usually the case that babies start teething around 6 months of age. Most will fall between the window of 4 and 12 months. However, with babies we always get the outliers. There will be some who get their first teeth before 4 months, and some will be later.
Of course, this begs the question: how do you know when your baby is teething?
Signs and symptoms of a teething baby?
Unfortunately, the reality is that you may not know! This may be good news if a tooth suddenly pops up one day and your little one is seemingly unaware. However, it also means, that until that first tooth has sprouted, that you may be left flailing around wondering what on earth happened to your usually calm and contented baby.
With a little experience you’ll soon get to understand the signs and symptoms of teething in your own little one. However, there are some common tell-tale signs:
• Gum giveaways: When looking at your baby’s gums you may notice either a slight red bulge, or you may even be able to see the nub of a tooth just beneath the surface. However, just because you cannot see evidence of a tooth, this doesn’t mean your baby isn’t experiencing teething symptoms. Unfortunately, even the teeth shifting around well beneath the gums, well in advance of appearing, can be enough to leave some little ones in pain.
• Red cheeks: If you’ve noticed that your baby has a one-sided rosy cheek, or even both sides, it could be teething. Flushing can be a sign that teeth are about to put in an appearance.
• Biting: Relief can be found for babies by biting, gnawing and chewing on anything that they can get their hands on. If you’ve noticed that your baby is grabbing and biting anything and everything, including (unfortunately) you, then teeth are likely the culprit. We’ll come on to what you can do about this shortly.
• Crying: Teething can be one of the first real experiences of pain for your little one. If they are unusually fretful, difficult to settle, or waking in the night, sometimes inconsolably crying, you may have a baby who is getting the raw end of the teething deal.
Most babies cut teeth in roughly the same pattern. This can help you anticipate what may be coming up on the horizon. Typically a teething baby will get their bottom incisors first (the bottom two front teeth), sometimes appearing within a day or two of each other. These are usually followed by their top incisors (top two front teeth). Next will likely come the teeth next to these top pair, followed by the two next to the bottom two. Your baby will usually get their first molars some time later, usually after they are one year old. Canines and second molars are the last to appear, usually by the time the child is two and a half years old.
What can you do to help a teething baby?
If your baby is having a tough time of teething then naturally you’ll want to help. Here are our tried and tested solutions:
• Teethers, teething rings and chew toys: Chewing can really help to alleviate the sore gums and even help a tooth break the surface and release the pressure. Teethers come in all sorts of shapes. They enable your little one to chew safely without resorting to the cot edge or your furniture. Choose something which is easy for your baby to grab. Some teething rings are designed to be used from the fridge. It may take some trial and error to see if your little one is amenable to this. Don’t use the freezer as this can make your baby’s gums sorer.
If your baby is well on the way of being weaned, you can also try offering them food which is great for chewing and soothing. Toast soldiers or sticks of pear or baby biscuits can help.
• Gels: Gum gels, specifically formulated for teething babies, can be brought in most chemists and supermarkets. Their aim is to help numb the pain. Follow the instructions and watch out for your fingers!
• Painkillers: Despite every endeavour to manage your baby’s teething symptoms without medicine, sometimes it may be called for. If the teething is affecting baby’s (and your) sleep, this can help to regain some calm. Infant paracetamol and ibuprofen can both be used in babies over 3 months who are teething. Follow the instructions on the bottle. In addition, you may find that with all the dribbling and rosy cheeks that your baby is getting sore skin on their face and lips. Take care to keep their skin clean and use a non-perfumed moisturiser, emollient or Vaseline to protect the skin.
Of course, sometimes the best teething remedy is a big hug and some distraction with their favourite toys.
No matter how painful teething is for your baby (and you!), you’ll want to make sure you get a few snaps of those gummy grins proudly bearing their new teeth. And as with all things to do with babies, this too will pass.