There are certain milestones that new parents look for: first steps, first words, and yes, first teeth. Any moms who are breastfeeding will tell you that they could do without that milestone for a while longer, but in the end, the teeth will come.
What is teething?
Teething is the process of baby teeth beginning to erupt through the gum line in baby’s mouth. Most babies will have all twenty of their baby teeth by the time they reach the age of 3.
When does teething start?
The process is different with every baby, so there is no hard and fast time frame, but as a general rule, parents can look for teething to begin anywhere from 3 months to 9 months of age.
There is a typical order and age / stage for teeth to come through:
- The first teeth to come in are usually the two bottom front teeth (central incisors) at 6-8 months;
- These are followed by the four upper teeth (central and lateral incisors), at 8-12 months;
- After baby’s first birthday, the first molars will start to come through in the back of the mouth, around 13-16 months;
- Then the canines, which are the pointy teeth between the molars and incisors, at 16-20 months;
- Around age 2, the second molars come in, behind the first set.
It’s important to keep an eye on your baby’s mouth and be continually aware of which teeth are coming in. Why? Baby teeth are the ‘space savers’ for the future adult teeth. If a baby tooth was damaged or knocked out in an accident or fall, it could affect how the adult tooth comes in, eventually.
10 common signs that teething is underway
As we mentioned above, like all developmental milestones, each baby will be different. Both in terms of when they experience a milestone and how they experience it. Some babies begin teething and its days before parents even notice because the baby is so chill about it all! Some babies are, shall we say, less enthused about the process of a sharp tooth erupting through their gums!
Here are 10 common signs and symptoms that your baby is teething:
- A tooth is visible, just at the edge of the gumline.
- Drooling — usually characterized as HEAVY drooling, not just your average baby drool.
- Unwillingness to eat — they’re gums are sensitive and therefore they are more uncomfortable with things that are too hot or cold.
- Rubbing their face.
- Fussiness or crankiness.
- Sleep disruption.
- Biting or chewing on things a lot.
- Red, swollen gums.
- Red cheeks.
- Blistering where tooth is going to erupt — this can result in a little bleeding when the tooth does come through but it should self-resolve within a few days. If not, see your dentist.
One symptom of teething that is debated in the medical community is a baby having a low grade fever (100.5 or less) and some mild diarrhea. Whether you believe these symptoms are related to teething or not, just remember that they can also be a sign of an infection, so treat baby at home but if the symptoms are not under control within 24-48 hours, see your doctor.
Soothing a teething baby
A couple of options include:
- A frozen teething ring;
- A wet washcloth to chew on;
- An infant dose of pain reliever for night time will ease their discomfort enough to get some rest.
If you have a postpartum doula that you’ve been working with, ask them about their experiences with teething and soothing a baby who is getting their first teeth. They’ll have the experience to give you plenty of reassurance.