You’ve just gotten your little one sleeping (mostly) through the night when bam! A loud wail wakes you up in the middle of the night. You go in to find your little one drooly and pink-cheeked and, most of all, miserable. With a sense of dread, you realize: The teeth are coming.
All babies are different but usually, you’ll see (or more likely feel) a first tooth coming through between 4 and 7 months. My daughter got her first tooth at almost exactly 6 months old, right when we had started introducing her to solid foods. I was cleaning some variety of sweet potato and oatmeal out of her mouth when I spied a thin white line under her bottom gum. A few days later, while we were cleaning her gums before bed, I felt the tiny nub of a tooth starting to break through. My sweet angel who had been a champion sleeper and very happy baby had been super fussy and waking up (quite angrily, I might add) during the night and now I knew why - she was teething.
Teething Signs & Symptoms
While most babies start getting teeth between 4 and 7 months, some babies’ teeth like to take their time and don’t show up until around their 1st birthday. If you notice any of these signs of teething between 4 and 12 months, check their bottom gum to see if some new tenants have popped up.
It’s worth mentioning that the things listed below are just what SOME babies experience with teething - some have one thing, some have all of them, and some have absolutely none. My daughter was grumpy with her first two teeth and her first molars, but other than that was back to her normal happy self.
It’s Drool City
The most common sign or “symptom” of teething is drooling. Already known for their drooling, babies really go into salivatory overdrive when they feel teeth coming in. Keep extra bibs handy because they are known to drool right through them.
Some babies start drooling and it feels like it never stops. Through the first 12-14 months, you can count on a lot of drool all over the shoulder and front of your shirts as you tote that drool monster around.
Drooling can also cause another sign of teeth: rashes. A lot of drool on the skin can lead to rashes on their cheeks, chin and even on their chest. If your little one has sensitive skin, try to be on top of keeping their skin patted dry with a soft cloth and change them out of wet tops and bibs regularly.
A lot of parents report a major increase in their baby’s crankiness factor when their teething, usually for a few days before the tooth pops through. It’s no wonder if they are in discomfort - that makes us all a little extra grumpy. Sometimes the achy gums make them not want to eat, so you could end up with a sore AND hungry baby on your hands. Along the same lines, the discomfort may disrupt their sleep and throw tiredness into the mix.
The good news is that even if your little one’s gums are swollen or sore, that should go away as soon as the tooth has broken through. The bad news is that it can take up to 3 years for all 20 teeth to come in. Don’t worry, though - lots of kids never react to new teeth coming in at all.
Teething and Fevers
You may have heard that teething can also cause your baby to run hot, but there is no actual evidence to support that fevers are directly related with teething. If your little one has an unusually high temperature, they’re more likely coming down with something so watch them for other symptoms.
Soothing Sore Gums
If your baby has sore or swollen gums, they’ll likely try to soothe themselves by chewing on toys or, well let’s face it, anything they can get in their mouths. We always had at least one spare teething toy with us at all times so that if my daughter wanted to gnaw on something, it could be a plastic ring and not, say, your own zipper or necklace.
Some teething rings and other chewables can be chilled to provide extra relief on swollen gums.
You don’t need anything fancy, though - our best remedy was a good old fashioned wet washcloth. Gently massaging their gums with a wet (or wet and chilled) cloth worked like a charm for us. Or just hand the washcloth over and let your baby chew away. This remedy plays double duty by also cleaning their gums and new teeth.
Some other options are feeding them chilled fruit, giving them a chilled metal spoon, and if all else fails, over the counter pain relief like Infant Tylenol.
There are other homeopathic remedies out there like teething gels and tablets, but whether or not they are effective has yet to be seen. As with anything, it’s best to run these products past your doctor before giving them to your child.