Has your baby been more irritable than usual lately? Are they chewing or drooling a lot? If this sounds familiar, your baby may be teething.
This simply means that their first set of teeth are about to start peeking through their gums. On average, this happens between the ages of 4 months and 1 year.
Here are some things you should know about how the teething process affects you and your baby.
When does your baby start teething?
Your baby will most likely get their first tooth between 4 months old and their first birthday.1
If you have a 6-month-old baby who hasn’t shown any signs of teething, there’s no reason to panic. Every baby is different, and they develop at different rates. Some babies don’t start teething until they are nine months old. Other babies start teething as early as three months.
However, if you have any real concerns about your baby’s development, don’t hesitate to go to your pediatrician.
In very rare cases, some babies are born with teeth. They are often referred to as birth teeth or fetal teeth. If the tooth or teeth are loose, they are usually removed immediately after birth. But if they are well supported, they do not need to be removed.2
The two central incisors located in the lower row of the mouth are usually the first teeth to emerge. But even if this is not the case for your baby, there is no reason to worry.
The order in which babies grow may vary from baby to baby. Babies born prematurely or with very low birth weight may also experience some delay in the timing of teething.
Initial and developmental
If your baby is teething, this is a sign that they are growing healthily. When your baby is full of teeth, you can expand their diet to include nutrient-rich foods that require more chewing.
Delays in your baby’s teething will not affect other developmental milestones. Studies show that there is no significant correlation between developmental milestones and when your baby starts teething.3
Signs of teething
Before your baby’s first teeth come in, you will notice some signs that they are starting to teethe. Your baby may be:
Drool more than usual
Have a slight rash due to drooling
Have a slight fever
Gums are swollen and sensitive
Be extra fussy or irritable
Start chewing hard things
Refusal to eat
In some cases, teething may make your baby a little uncomfortable. If they have a high fever, diarrhea or a cough, you should talk to your doctor.
What to do next
Your baby’s teething can be an uncomfortable time for both you and your baby. Here are some ways to simplify this process:
Buy your baby a teething toy and refrigerate it before each use. It numbs the gums and eases the pain when it’s cold. Be careful not to let it get too cold, as this can hurt the gums.
Frozen foods such as bananas and yogurt can help relieve your baby’s sore gums.
Massage your baby’s gums with a clean finger to relieve the pain.
Have your child take a bite on a clean washcloth to help relieve the pain.
Taking care of your baby’s new teeth
By the time your baby is three years old, you can expect most of their first set of teeth to have come in. Until then, here are a few things you should do to take care of your baby’s new teeth:
When they are 6 months old, add fluoride to their diet. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay.
Brush your child’s teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Once the first tooth comes in, see a dentist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that all children have their first dental exam before the age of one
Avoid giving your child sugary drinks because they are harmful to their new teeth. However, if you do give them a sugary drink, brush their teeth immediately afterward.
A quote from Verywell
Your baby’s first tooth is one of the happiest milestones of parenthood for new parents.
It can also be painful and uncomfortable for your baby, which means they will be more irritable than usual. Try to be patient with them and use things like teething toys to ease their discomfort.