Signs of Teething
Every parent has heard of teething. Some wait anxiously for the first sign of their baby’s drooling and others? Well they just wait to see what happens. Generally, the best approach is to take a relaxed attitude to baby teething.
Remind yourself that every baby is an individual. Teething, like all other aspects of your baby’s growth, may well have its challenges. However, don’t assume you’re in for a rollercoaster of a ride as your baby’s little choppers come through.
Like most other milestones, teething is best viewed as a normal part of infant development. It will come and it will go. You’ll survive it and so will your little one.
How Long Have You Had That?
Some parents just happen to look in their baby’s mouth one day at around six months, and see one perfect little tooth sticking through their baby’s gum. Others herald the coming of the first tooth long before it’s even erupted from the jaw line.
It’s Important to Remember...
Teething is a normal stage of development. By the time your child is around 3 years old and has their full complement of 20 baby teeth, you’ll have spent many hours getting used to the teething business.
Treat teething symptoms if you need to. But don’t assume your baby’s behaviour is due to teething discomfort.
- Changes in sleep and settling
- Extra dribbling/drooling
- Changes in appetite
Around four months of age, saliva production increases. Parents commonly interpret this extra moisture as a sign that teeth are coming through. Normally at this early stage, dribbling and drooling is, instead, a sign that the salivary glands are working efficiently.
Saliva contains an enzyme which helps with digestion, especially starch. When solids are introduced into the diet at around 6 months of age, an enzyme in the saliva called ptyalin helps in the pre-digestion of starch. This is further broken down in the baby’s stomach.
Five Unusual Signs of Baby Teething
- A more distinct ‘ammonia’ type smell to the baby’s urine
- More frequent, loose poos which may contain visible mucous
- Nappy rash – this is often red and the skin sensitive
- Red, shiny cheeks
- Swatting or pulling at the ears
What Aren’t Teething Symptoms
An elevated temperature, diarrhoea or rashes are not signs of teething. If your baby has any of these symptoms, it’s important that your baby is checked by a qualified nurse or healthcare professional.
When Will I be Able to See My Baby’s First Tooth?
Between six to ten months of age, most babies have at least one or more teeth. By around six months old, the majority have a minimum of one perfect little tooth.
Teeth follow a fairly standard stage of eruption with the lower central incisors coming first. These are followed by the upper central incisors and then the ones to the side – the lateral incisors.
How Can I Help My Teething Baby?
Treat your baby’s teething symptoms as you need to. Extra cuddles, reassurance and soothing are often needed when the baby is miserable.
You may need to offer comfort feeds more frequently, especially if your baby is breastfed.
Teething rusks and soft toys can be very soothing to a teething baby. Cool, smooth foods and those with a bit of texture, which need extra gnawing, can, also provide some relief. Remember to cook hard vegetables and fruit before offering them to your baby and always supervise your baby during meal times. At this age and stage, babies can quite literally bite off more than they can chew.
It’s important not to attribute all your baby’s behavioural changes to teething. Always speak and check with a qualified nurse or healthcare professional about your baby to understand what your baby’s individual needs are, and advice on baby teething.
Another myth is that teething causes temperatures. Though generations of grandparents may argue with you over this little issue, elevated temperatures are unlikely to be due to teething.
It’s important not to assume your baby’s temperature is due to teething, but instead, to consider if they are unwell. Always speak and check with a qualified nurse or healthcare professional about your baby to understand what your baby’s individual needs are, especially if you are ever concerned about your baby's well being.
Ouch, You Bit Me!
Breastfed babies who are teething can bite down on their mother’s nipple during feeds. Understandably, this can cause intense pain. Calmly take your baby off the breast and temporarily finish the feed. Eventually, most babies get the message not to bite. It can take a few times of consistently stopping the feed before they understand.
Know This To Be True
If you can see a tooth, it needs cleaning. Baby teeth are particularly prone to decay and it’s important to remove any food or plaque on their teeth.
Wiping each tooth over with a soft cloth at bath time is enough in the early stages of teething, when a little mouth can be sensitive. Alternately, a very soft children’s toothbrush is ideal. You don’t need to use children’s toothpaste until around 18 months of age; however, speak with your own dentist about this.
Some children are more prone to tooth decay than others, and not all areas have fluoride added to town water. Early decay is a risk factor for poor oral health and it pays to invest in baby teeth.
Check with check with a qualified nurse or healthcare professional for advice and guidance on your baby’s individual teething needs.