Teething is a significant milestone in a baby’s development, but it can also be a challenging time for both infants and parents.
The appearance of those first tiny teeth is a cause for celebration, but it often comes with discomfort and fussiness.
In this article, we’ll explore what teething is, common signs and symptoms, and offer tips to help ease your baby’s teething woes.
Teething is the process of a baby’s first teeth, or primary teeth, emerging through their gums. This typically begins around 6 months of age, though it can start earlier or later. By the age of 3, most children will have their full set of 20 primary teeth.
Common Signs and Symptoms
Teething can vary from one baby to another, but some common signs and symptoms include:
- Drooling: Excessive drooling is a classic teething sign. Keep a bib handy to help keep your baby dry.
- Gum Sensitivity: Your baby may experience sore and tender gums, leading to increased gnawing and chewing on objects.
- Irritability: Teething discomfort can make your baby fussier than usual. They may be more prone to crying and irritability.
- Sleep Disturbances: Discomfort from teething can disrupt your baby’s sleep patterns, leading to more nighttime waking.
- Low-Grade Fever: Some babies may develop a slightly elevated body temperature while teething. However, teething doesn’t cause high fevers, so consult a doctor if your baby’s fever is above 100.4°F (38°C).
- Changes in Eating Habits: Teething can temporarily affect your baby’s appetite. They may eat less or prefer softer foods.
Tips for Relieving Teething Discomfort
- Teething Toys: Provide your baby with safe, age-appropriate teething toys to chew on. These can help soothe sore gums.
- Cold Compress: Chilled teething toys or a clean, damp washcloth placed in the freezer for a short time can provide relief when gently applied to the gums.
- Gentle Gum Massage: Wash your hands thoroughly and use a clean finger to massage your baby’s gums. The gentle pressure can help alleviate discomfort.
- Pain Relief Gel: Some over-the-counter teething gels or creams can provide temporary relief. Always follow the recommended dosage and consult your pediatrician before using.
- Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen: If teething discomfort is severe, you can consult your pediatrician about using pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin). Ensure you use the correct dosage for your baby’s age and weight.
- Comfort and Cuddles: Sometimes, all your baby needs is some extra comfort and cuddles during this challenging time.
Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene
Even before your baby’s teeth emerge, it’s essential to start good oral hygiene habits. Wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp cloth after feedings to remove any milk or food residue.
Teething is a natural and necessary part of your baby’s development. While it can be challenging, knowing how to identify teething symptoms and employing strategies to provide relief can make the journey smoother for both you and your little one.
Remember that every baby is unique, and it’s essential to consult with your pediatrician for guidance on managing your baby’s specific teething experience.
With patience and care, you can help your baby through this teething phase and celebrate the arrival of those first adorable teeth.