My youngest daughter is teething at the moment, so I can relate to most parents when they say it’s one of the roughest times of infanthood. For parents like me who didn’t know a lot about teething, here’s some information to help you out.
All About Teething
Most babies get their first tooth at around six months old, but those first pearly whites can appear as early as three months or as late as 14 months. When it does happen, make sure to celebrate by taking pictures and marking this milestone in your baby book.
Symptoms to Watch For
The symptoms of teething can vary from baby to baby. Some experience drooling and crankiness before a tooth emerges, while others show no signs at all. Some possible teething symptoms to watch for are:
Big-time drooling. Drooling can cause a rash on your baby’s face, so keep it clean by gently wiping with a damp washcloth.
Gnawing action. Your baby may chew on various objects to help relieve the pressure from an emerging tooth.
Puffy gums. Before a new tooth emerges, it can cause red, swollen gums.
Ear tugging. While also a sign of an ear infection, ear pulling can be a symptom of teething because pain from the jaw gets transferred to the ear canal.
Refusing to eat. Eating with a spoon or sucking on a bottle may irritate inflamed gums.
Sleep problems. New teeth tend to break through at night, so your baby may be more irritable then.
When to Call Your Pediatrician
Though many parents report that their babies have loose stools, runny noses or a fever just before a new tooth arrives, most experts don’t think teething is to blame for these symptoms. It could be a sign of a possible illness and should be checked out by your pediatrician. Call if symptoms worsen (for instance, a low-grade fever reaches 101° F or higher) or linger for more than a couple of days. Same goes if no teeth have come in by 15 months of age. At that point, your pediatrician may want you to take your child to a dentist for an X-ray.
Easing the Pain
Try these teething tips to see what works best for your little one.
A wet, frozen washcloth. Leave one end dry so he can get a good grip.
Massage. Try rubbing the area with your clean finger (bare or wrapped in a washcloth).
Infant acetaminophen and ibuprofen. These are good bets for temporary pain relief, and so are topical oral anesthetics. It’s important not to exceed the recommended dose.
Distraction. You can often soothe your child simply by getting his mind off the pain. Try a new toy or some good ole cuddle time.
Once your baby’s first tooth appears, clean it twice a day by rubbing gently with a washcloth. Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle or nurse him to sleep once his teeth come in. It could result in cavities. Teething can be a tough time for both you and your baby, but with a little know-how, you can help him ease through this important milestone.