If there's one milestone most parents wish they could postpone, or skip altogether, it's teething. Of course your child will look adorable when smiling and showing off those two tiny bottom teeth, but the process of getting them is sometimes a struggle for you, and your baby. Fortunately, all the suffering isn't for nothing. Teething, like walking, talking, and crawling, is an important milestone that shows your child is on the right track developmentally.
When do Babies Start Teething?
Some babies might get their first white cap as early as 3 months, while others might have to wait until they're a year old or more. When babies start teething can vary, but here's what you're likely to see as your child transitions from gums to emerging teeth, often, but not always, in this order:
- At around 5 to 7 months, the first teeth to come through are the bottom incisors (front teeth).
- At around 6 to 8 months, the top incisors (front teeth) break through.
- At around 9 to 11 months, the top lateral incisors to the sides of the top front teeth will emerge.
- At around 10 to 12 months, the bottom lateral incisors on the sides of the bottom front teeth will emerge.
- At around 12 to 16 months the back teeth (molars) will come through.
- At about 16 to 20 months, the canines, located in the back of the mouth will emerge.
- At about 20 to 30 months, the second molars, the last teeth will appear.
By age 3, babies should have a full set of baby teeth, and they shouldn't start to fall out until their permanent teeth are ready to start coming in, at around 6 years of age.
Teething Symptoms to Watch Out For
Your child isn't going to understand why they feel the pain, why they keep waking in the night with mouth soreness, or why they have an itchy chin. Following are teething symptoms to help you understand "when do babies start teething":
- Drooling: Teething sometimes stimulates drooling for many babies starting from about 10 weeks to 3 - 4 months of age.
- Teething rash: If your teething baby is drooling significantly, it may cause redness, chafing, chapping, and rashes on their chin, around their mouth, chin or even on their neck.
- Gag and/or cough reflex: Drooling could make babies gag and cough. This is normal and it's no cause for concern if your baby has no other signs of allergies, flu, or cold symptoms.
- Biting: The pressure of teeth pushing through the gums can cause a great deal of discomfort, and your baby may react to the pressure by biting. Babies who are teething will gum on whatever they can, such as toys, teething rings, and fingers, or if you are breastfeeding, your nipples.
- Crying: Due to the inflammation of the baby's gum tissue, the pain will usually be expressed in the form of crying. The first tooth normally hurts the most, as do the molars, although many babies may eventually get used to what teething feels like and aren't quite so irritated later on.
- Irritability: Your baby's mouth is going to hurt as the tooth presses on the gums and breaks through the surface, and this process will cause some irritability. While some babies might be irritable for a few hours, others may stay irritable for days or even weeks.
- Feeding difficulty: The suction action of nursing might make the baby's painful gums feel even worse. Because of this,teething babies may get fussy during feedings.
- Ear pulling and/or cheek rubbing: Babies who are teething may rub their cheek and chin or tug furiously at their ear. This is because the gums, cheeks, and ears share nerve pathways. Therefore, pain in the gums can travel elsewhere.
Special note: Babies with an ear infection may also tug on their ears; consult with your pediatrician if you suspect your baby may have an ear infection.
How Can You Help Your Baby?
Know "when do babies start teething" is not enough, you have to know some practical ways that can help soothe your child through the teething process:
1. Cool Teething Rings
Teething rings give your baby something safe and non-toxic to chew on. Chewing will help your baby to relieve the pressure and pain on the gums. However, don't freeze these teething rings, because they will become hard and can harm your baby's gums, and remember to clean teething rings, after each use.
2. Cool Foods
If you have introduced your baby to solids, you could try feeding them cold foods, such as yogurt, cold applesauce, peaches and refrigerated apple puree. Your baby may also find relief when chewing the rubber coated spoon used to serve the foods.
However, these types of foods should only be given to babies older than 8 months, and remember to give your baby pieces of foods that are small enough for them to swallow.
3. Teething Gels
Many pediatricians warn against numbing topical agents, which may put children under age 2 at increased risk of reduced oxygen levels in the blood. However, if your child is more than 4 months old, try rubbing a special infant-formulated teething gel along their gums. The gel provides a mild numbing effect, and it may also contain an antiseptic to prevent any infections. The FDA recommends against any alcohol based, herbal, or homeopathic natural teething medications, especially since some contain an ingredient that can cause heart problems and drowsiness.
4. Sugar-Free Painkillers
If your baby has a raised temperature or is in pain, you might want to give them a medicinal painkiller that has been specially formulated for young children. These medicines contain a small dose of ibuprofen or sugar-free paracetamol to ease the discomfort. The medicine should be only suitable for babies aged 3 months or more. If you are not sure about the dosage amount, ask a pharmacist or your pediatrician.
5. Comforting a Teething Baby
If everything else fails, a kiss and a cuddle can help to comfort your child, and familiar voices have a calming effect on babies. Try singing to your baby a lullaby or hum quietly while you hold them. Many babies also find comfort in smooth and rhythmic movements, such as being rocked in a rocking chair, or using an infant swing. Playing with or comforting your baby may distract them from the teething pain in their gums.
6. Preventing Teething Rashes
Many babies drool when teething, which may cause a rash on the face, chin, or chest. Most babies have a rash on and off on the chin or around the mouth caused by drooling. Remember to clean your child's face often, especially after they eat or when teething. You may also find it useful for your child to sleep on an absorbent sheet; this will help to prevent them from developing a rash.