So, you’re getting to a point where you feel confident in your role as a new mom. Your baby is happy and healthy and things are looking good. And then your baby starts teething.
Teething is one of those unfortunate rights of passage that your baby has to go through. Those stupid daggers pushing their way through the gums of your sweet, little baby will drive you nuts. Especially since your sweet, little baby won’t be quite so sweet anymore.
Teething is painful and uncomfortable for your little one and it is bound to affect the way your baby sleeps and his general temperament.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about what you really need to know about teething and how to help your baby make it through.
When do Babies Start Teething?
Babies typically start teething between 4 and 7 months old, but some start much later. I’ve even heard of some babies starting as early as three months, but that’s pretty rare.
Each baby is unique and so is the time at which they start to teethe. This chart is a general guideline though so you can be on the lookout.
(This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you buy something through one of my links I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I will never suggest a product or service that I don’t use and love myself because that’s just wrong. If you like reading legal mumbo-jumbo then you can check out my disclosure policy HERE.)
What are the First Signs of Teething?
While not every baby has every teething symptom, most babies will at least have a few.
Excess drool is the number 1 sign of teething.
My kid drooled BUCKETS for months before his first teeth popped through. For a reference, he got his first two teeth in the day after he turned 5 months.
I would suggest having your baby wear a bib more often to keep from having to change his clothes every 20 minutes.
All of that drool can also cause a drool rash on your baby’s face. Keeping your baby’s face as dry as possible will help with the rash.
I also like to put a little Auqaphor on my baby’s cheeks and chin when he gets a drool rash. It seems to really help keep down the irritation.
Please note that a rash located anywhere else and not associated with the drool is not normal and you should consult your pediatrician to make sure there isn’t another problem.
Tooth Visible Beneath the Gums
When the teeth are getting close to the surface, you’ll be able to see it under the surface.
It’ll look like a white spot on your baby’s gums. Hopefully once you see them they will pop through soon.
In addition to seeing the tooth below the surface, the gums may also be swollen. The swelling will go down after the teeth have come through.
If your normally easy-going baby starts to become extra fussy and irritable, teething is typically to blame.
I’d be pissed off too if I had daggers erupting through my face.
Give your little one some extra cuddles and just know that it doesn’t last forever.
Remember the daggers erupting part? Yeah, it sucks.
While nighttime doesn’t medically cause teething to be worse, your baby will probably not sleep as well and be fussier than normal in the evenings. Probably due to the fact that he doesn’t have anything to distract him from the teeth forcing their way into his mouth.
Don’t be surprised if he wakes up more than usual either.
When my kiddo had his first teeth come in, he was up every hour to hour and a half the first night. It was awful. Thankfully though, future teething sessions have been less stressful.
Your baby will get used to it eventually too, just help him along until then.
Trying to Bite, Chew, and Suck on Everything
When my kid is teething, he sticks EVERYTHING in his mouth. If he can grab it, it is going in. It’s ridiculous.
This is your baby’s way of massaging his gums to help with the pain. Though it means everything in your house is covered in baby slobber, it helps him, so just go with it.
Don’t be alarmed though when your baby starts doing this around three months old. It is also a way for babies to learn and explore the world around them, so it isn’t a sure-fire sign of teething. Just in my house it always gets worse so I want you to be prepared just in case.
Teething hurts and some babies may try to eat less in an effort to avoid the added pain that chewing causes.
If your baby is younger than 1, the biggest thing is to make sure that he is getting enough breast milk and/or formula during the day. Any solids can wait, but the milk will have all of the nutrients that he really needs.
If he stops drinking milk though and begins showing signs of dehydration, then you need to contact your pediatrician.
How Long does Teething Last?
In the totality, your baby will be teething from about 6 months to about 3 years. He has a lot of teeth to push through! The actual act of teething though really lasts less than a week.
Your baby’s gums will be sore a couple of days before the teeth actually come through and then for a few days afterwards.
The drooling though will be something that you’ll deal with for a while. Just get used to that.
Ways to Relieve Teething Pain
There are several ways that you can help your baby handle the pain of teething. You might have to experiment though to see what works best for your little one.
1. Rub Baby’s Gums
Massing your baby’s gums can really help with some of the pain that teething causes. Just use your finger (make sure it’s clean!) and gently rub on the spots where the teeth are coming through.
Your baby can also do this themselves with a teething ring. You can even put the teether in the refrigerator to add a cooling affect to his sore gums.
My kiddo (once he got a little older and was sitting up unassisted) actually really enjoyed chewing on the handle of a silicone spatula that I have. He loves that thing!
It actually works really well now since he’s busy pushing through his molars (send wine!) since he can get the handle right on the sore spots.
Is chewing on my kitchen utensils my first choice of teething relief? No. Am I upset that it works? Absolutely not! Work with what you have.
2. Brush Baby’s Gums
Just like with the massaging idea, you can also brush your baby’s gums with a toothbrush. A soft, toddler sized toothbrush works great for this.
I will say that I found that my kiddo didn’t care for the toothbrush when he was pushing through the front teeth, but now that he’s working on the back teeth, he really likes it.
It also gets him used to brushing his teeth so win-win!
3. Cold Wash Cloth or Teething Ring
I already mentioned that you could put a teething ring in the fridge for some added comfort, but you can do the same thing with a washcloth.
Just wet the washcloth and stick it in the fridge, then let your baby go to town.
My kiddo didn’t go for the washcloth trick, but I know some babies that love it. Try it out and see what your baby thinks.
4. Frozen Breast Milk Pops
If you are still breastfeeding, you can pump out a little milk and put it in a clean ice cube tray and freeze it.
When it’s frozen, stick it in one of these awesome mesh feeders and let your baby chew on it for a while.
It’s definitely going to make a mess, so I suggest doing this in the highchair with some clothes you’re willing to have him get dirty. My kiddo loved this though.
You can also use an ice cube instead of breast milk if you want. Definitely easier to clean up.
5. Tylenol or Motrin
Tylenol can be given to babies as young as two months, but motrin should not be given to children younger than six months.
Always talk to your doctor about proper dosage before giving your baby any medication.
Things That I do NOT Recommend for Teething Relief
Teething Gels with Benzocaine
Benzocaine is a popular additive in numbing gels such as Baby Orajel. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that it should not be used on children younger than two unless under doctor supervision.
Benzocaine can cause illnesses such as methemoglobinemia and even death. It just isn’t worth the risk.
Amber Teething Necklaces
You’ll see people from all over swear by the benefits of using amber teething beads for your baby. I’m here to tell you though that it’s a little too “woo” to actually work.
Amber teething beads are dangerous. There is a strangulation risk as well as a risk of choking if the necklace or bracelet where to break. There are just too many risks associated with amber necklaces for me to feel like it’s worth it.
Is Baby Sick or Teething? How to tell
Contrary to popular belief, teething does not actually cause babies to develop a fever or to have diarrhea.
While a low-grade fever is generally not a cause for concern (lower than 101 degrees), that coupled with other symptoms could be.
It is always, ALWAYS better to consult your pediatrician rather than the internet if you feel that your baby might actually be sick. Trust your gut, Mama!
How to Care for Baby’s First Teeth
Hopefully by now, you have already started brushing your baby’s gums or rubbing them with a damp washcloth to help keep bacterial growth at bay. If you haven’t, then definitely start. A small, soft-bristled toothbrush is a great way to care for your little one’s new teeth.
Use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to clean your baby’s teeth. The dollop should be no larger than a grain of rice since your baby won’t learn how to spit until around the age of three. At that point you can go up to a pea-sized amount.
Check with your dental insurance to see when you can start taking your baby to the dentist. Some insurance carriers will not allow you to go until your baby is one, but if you can go earlier then I would definitely suggest it. Especially if your baby begins teething early.
My son had eight teeth and was working on molars by the time he his one year old, so you never know.
At the very minimum, your pediatrician will check your baby’s teeth and gums at your well-baby visits.
Teething sucks, but it is still necessary. Just relax and know that it won’t last forever.
Offer your baby some comforting techniques to help with the pain and give him some extra snuggles. He doesn’t understand why his face hurts, so it’s up to you to let him know that everything is going to be okay.
Are you dealing with a teething baby? What have you tried? Leave me a comment below or join the conversation in our Facebook group.
Until next time!