8 Signs Your Baby is Teething and How to Soothe the Pain
If your infant has been a bit grouchier than usual and is drooling like crazy, there’s a good chance a few teeth may be making their appearance soon. It’s difficult to know precisely when a baby’s teeth will erupt (a rare few are even born with a tooth or two!), but you’ll probably notice a few tell-tale indications. Let’s take a closer look at baby teething signs and symptoms, when to expect them, and how to comfort your teething infant.
When Babies Begin Teething
Every child is different, but you can safely expect that first tooth to make its grand and painful appearance right around 6 months of age with symptoms beginning months earlier (meaning, it’s entirely possible to observe 2-month-old baby teething signs). Some babies are early teethers, while other infants are late teethers. Both are completely normal.
Which Teeth Show Up First
The bottom two front teeth typically make their appearance first. Next, you’ll probably see the four front upper teeth. Subsequent teeth may follow two at a time, one on each side of the mouth. This pattern isn’t carved in stone, though, and a number of factors can affect the timeline of when and how a baby’s teeth show up (e.g., a baby born prematurely may follow a different timeline).
On average, babies have:
- 4 teeth by 11 months
- 8 teeth by 15 months
- 12 teeth by 19 months
- 16 teeth at 23 months
During this time, those worrisome (but completely normal) teething symptoms may appear and disappear periodically or they may be more consistent.
Sophie La Girafe is the most beloved teether for over 60 years! Sophie is very flexible and has lots of parts for your baby to taste (ears, horns, legs). She’s perfect for soothing baby’s sore gums when teething and is completely safe. Made of 100% natural rubber and food paint.
Common Teething Signs and Symptoms
Some infants have almost no teething symptoms, while others suffer from irritability and discomfort for months. Understanding what teething symptoms to expect can help you soothe your little one through this milestone.
That little tooth trying to break the surface of your infant’s mouth will cause achiness and make your baby understandably cranky. For some babies, the fussiness lasts only a few hours while others may be grumpy for days.
Massive amounts of spit and drool leaking from your baby’s face are a pretty good indicator that new teeth are on the way. Some little ones even develop a teething rash around their mouth and chin (and sometimes neck and chest). Fasten a bib around your little one to help keep their shirt dry and wipe their face throughout the day to prevent chapping. You can also use petroleum jelly or a nursing cream or balm to protect your baby’s skin.
Bandana bibs offer stylish protection for drooling and teething babies. Made with 100% cotton muslin and an absorbent terry cloth back layer. Snap adjustable for a comfortable fit. With the Lulujo Bandana Bibs, 2-Pack combo you can mix and match with your baby’s outfits. Ideal to wear throughout the day to protect skin and clothing against drool wetness.
Counter-pressure from biting and chewing helps relieve the internal pressure babies feel from teeth creeping toward the gum line. Infants will gnaw on just about anything so make sure to offer them something safe. Popular choices for gumming include rattles, their own hands, a caregiver’s clean finger, a cold washcloth, stroller guards, and the edges of their crib.
5. Gagging or coughing
All that extra drool can make infants gag and cough. As long as your baby isn’t showing other signs of illness, it should not cause any additional concern. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that teething does not cause fever, diarrhea, diaper rash, runny nose, or excessive crying. Blaming teething for fevers can lead to a delay in seeking care for potential infections, such as ear and urinary tract infections or meningitis.
6. Frustration with feeding
Irritable babies long to be comforted by having something in their sore mouth, but sucking on a bottle or breast may make the pain worse. This can further aggravate a sad baby who’s now both hungry and aching. Even older babies who’ve already started solids may turn down food while they’re teething.
7. Rubbing their cheeks and pulling their ears
A teething infant may pull aggressively at their ears or rub their chin or cheeks. That’s because all of these areas share the same nerve pathways. Molar pain is especially notorious for triggering this behavior. These also happen to be signs of an ear infection so observe your baby closely to determine what may be causing the problem.
8. Night waking
Teething pain often causes changes in your baby’s sleep schedule, even if they were previously sleeping through the night.
Teething Signs in a Breastfed Baby
Breastfed baby teething signs aren’t really any different than signs a bottle-fed baby is teething. While nursing can continue far beyond the time when an infant’s first teeth come in, the experience may change a bit. For starters, your little one may be crankier. They may want to nurse more for comfort or to relieve pressure on their gums. Other babies may be less interested in nursing because their mouths are too sore. You may also notice changes in the way your baby latches on to the breast. In addition, the excess drool produced by teething may irritate your nipples if you’ve got sensitive skin.
How to Soothe a Teething Baby
You can try relieving your baby's teething discomfort with these tried and true remedies:
Pressure can ease teething discomfort. Massaging the sore part of their gums with a clean finger can provide relief. A cold, solid-rubber teether or even a frozen washcloth to chew on can be soothing.
Doctors advise starting with just one dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen to soothe a fussy teething baby. Also, check the Food and Drug Administration’s website for information about the safety of children’s medications. If it gets to the point where one dose isn’t enough, consult your pediatrician before doing serial dosing.
Breastfeeding can be a wonderful way of soothing your fussy teething baby. Your little one may ask to feed more often, possibly for very short intervals each time. If you're happy to feed them as often as they want, it can really help both of you to get through this tricky time.
Offer cold foods
If your little one is already eating solids, try offering something cold, like a chilled slice of cucumber. You could also buy a self-feeding teether and put frozen fruit in it. Use caution, however, as this could be a choking hazard.
The OXO Tot Silicone Self-Feeder is a safe and soothing way for little ones to learn to snack on their own. It’s the perfect way to introduce your tot to strawberries, oranges, or other yummy fruits or veggies - simply place the food in the large-capacity pouch and let your little one do the rest. The silicone is easy to clean, and the childproof lock is easy for grown-ups to take apart. Also, adding frozen fruit to the feeder will help soothe teething tots!
What Treatments to Avoid for Teething Discomfort
It’s also important to note there are a number of treatments ( even “natural” ones) that may actually harm your baby and should be avoided.
- Don’t give a baby aspirin or massage it into the gums.
- Don’t rub alcohol on the child’s gums.
- Don’t put completely frozen objects directly on the gums.
- Avoid allowing your baby to chew on hard plastic toys. This can negatively impact their oral health as well as become a choking hazard.
- Avoid amber necklaces and teething beads. Most homeopathic practitioners (along with several major health organizations) now recommend against the use of the jewelry, saying that the risk of choking on one of the beads is too great to ignore and outweighs any potential benefits.
- Avoid giving your child topical medications containing lidocaine or benzocaine. No studies have proven the long-term benefit of these products, and the effects last are don't last long. Meanwhile, your baby is ingesting it and getting high levels of the drug into their bloodstream.
- Doctors suggest using similar caution (or altogether avoidance) when it comes to herbal remedies. In certain teething tablets, a toxic substance “far exceeding the amount claimed on the label” was discovered during lab testing. Remember, herbal medications are still medications that must be metabolized by the liver and kidneys. The long-term side effects of these herbal remedies are still unknown, so there is a risk.
When to Consult a Doctor
Though many parents will swear that teething causes diarrhea or a mild fever in their babies, most physicians are reluctant to link these symptoms to teething. While it’s possible that gum inflammation may cause a slight elevation in body temperature and swallowing all that extra drool could upset a little stomach, the more likely cause is an infection. If your infant has a continuous low-grade fever for three days or longer or is presenting other distressing symptoms, call your doctor for guidance. You’ll also want to call if your baby has more than two loose bowel movements or won’t eat for a couple of days.
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