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When do babies start teething?

Growing teeth is one of the milestones to keep an eye out for when you have a baby. Teething can be one of the harder stages of development for your child and you, so it is important to be informed on when you can expect this milestone so that you can handle it accordingly.

Read on to find out more about when babies start teething, symptoms to look out for, and the most effective teething remedies.

When do babies start teething?

Just when that first tooth erupts from the gum varies widely from one baby to another. There are a handful of cases where babies are born with teeth, although those are rare. For some infants, the first tooth erupts as early as three months old, while others don’t get teeth until well after their first birthday.

For most babies, teething begins around the age of six months. The age a baby cuts his first tooth entirely depends on the family history of teething, so if you got your teeth early, there is a high probability that your child will too.

What are teething symptoms should I look out for?

It is important to familiarize yourself with common teething symptoms, so you’ll be able to pick up on the milestone once it starts. Symptoms of teething include:

1. Irritability

You might notice that your little one is a little fussier or more fretful than usual. This is because many babies have to endure a great deal of pain as a result of the inflammation of gum tissue. The first teeth usually cause a lot of irritability, which may last anywhere from a few hours to several days.

2. More drooling than usual

Your baby may start drooling or dribbling a lot when teething. The eruption of teeth results in an increased production of saliva, so you can expect to deal with constantly soggy clothes during this period. To make your little one more comfortable, try fastening on a bib, and regularly wipe his chin to prevent chapping.

3. Disturbed sleep

The pain or discomfort of teething may disrupt your little one’s nighttime slumber. If your baby is unable to self-soothe and go back to sleep on his own, try patting him gently or singing his favorite lullabies to encourage him.

4. Teething rash

The constant dribbling might cause chafing and rashes around your baby’s mouth, chin, and neck. To prevent this, pat away the saliva and moisturize the area with a gentle, unscented skin cream.

5. Rubbing or pulling at an ear

You may notice your baby tugging at his ears furiously during the teething stage. This might happen because gums and ears share nerve pathways, hence the reaction. Keep in mind that ear pulling could also be an indication of something more serious, so check with your pediatrician to be sure.

6. Chewing or sucking on objects

To ease the pressure of teeth erupting through under the gums, your baby might chew, gnaw, or suck on things.

7. Sore, red gums

The area where the tooth is poking through may be sore and inflamed.

8. A red cheek

One of your baby’s cheeks may appear flushed.

How can I alleviate my baby’s teething discomfort?

Here are some teething remedies that have been proven to be effective at relieving teething discomfort:

1. Apply pressure on gums

To counter the pressure of teeth poking out of your baby’s gums, try rubbing his gums gently but firmly. You can apply light pressure by rubbing a clean finger or knuckle on the inflamed or sore area.

2. Use teething toys

Give your child bumpy rubber teething rings, rattles, and other soft toys that they can chew on to relieve the aching in their gums and alleviate discomfort.

3. Soothe achy gums

Chewing on cold items can numb the inflamed area and subsequently reduce pain. Keep a supply of damp washcloths or teething toys in the fridge. It might be tempting to speed up the cooling by placing these items in the freezer, but very cold things will hurt your baby's sensitive gums and make the pain even worse. If your baby has started to eat solids, let him chew on chilled veggies or fruits.

4. Sucking

Sucking may provide comfort to a teething baby, as well as help to alleviate pain. Give your child a bottle or a pacifier to suck on to calm them down.

5. Consider giving pain medication

If teething pain persists, consider giving your little one over-the-counter (OTC) medications. The most commonly used pain relievers for babies are infant acetaminophen and infant ibuprofen. Make sure you consult your pediatrician before you administer any OTC medications.

Sometimes your doctor may recommend that you give medication to your child especially if the pain is severe. It is important that you give the correct dose, and only use painkiller when necessary.

6. Give extra snuggles

Give extra snuggles, kisses, and reassuring words during this difficult time to reassure your teething baby.

Remedies to avoid

  • Homeopathic teething tablets and gels – the FDA has recently issued a warning against the use of these remedies as they are associated with serious illnesses and even deaths.
  • OTC gels and liquid benzocaine products – products such as Orajel and Anbesol are unsafe for relieving teething pain. In 2011, the FDA issued a warning against the use of these products due to the increased risk of methemoglobinemia in children under 2 years old.
  • Amber teething necklaces – these pose a potential risk for choking and strangulation, and should therefore be avoided.

Which teeth come first?

The order that baby teeth come in vary, but the most common first teeth are the bottom incisors (the front teeth. Those are then followed by the top incisors (top front teeth), top lateral incisors (the teeth found on either side of the bottom incisors), the bottom lateral incisors, the first molars (first back teeth), canines, and finally, the second molars.

Final thoughts

Teething can be quite a difficult time for your baby, especially if his teeth erupt one after the other in quick succession. Expect teething to begin at around 6 months, and keep an eye out for those pesky symptoms during this period. If your baby is in pain, try one or more of the suggested remedies to alleviate the discomfort.

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