At around 5 months of age, the sweetest baby suddenly becomes cranky, fussy, keeps drooling and chews everything that he/she can get hands on. They tend to remain awake all night and want to be held and nursed all the time.
All these symptoms point to the phase of teething. In this article we shall discuss some practical tips which will be helpful in getting you and the baby through this stage.
When Will a Baby Start Teething?
When will a baby start teething? The answer can vary, and the specific date also depends on each one. Yet, it is common for babies to teeth in pairs. Usually, the bottom middle two teeth are the first ones to come. After around a month’s time, the upper middle two teeth arrive. It does differ in all babies and it is possible that a baby has four lower teeth and no upper teeth or vice versa. The timeline given below is the usual schedule:
- Lower central incisors – at 6 months
- Upper central incisors – at 8 months
- Both lower & upper lateral incisors – at 10 months
- First molars – at 14 months
- Canines – at 18 months
- Secondary molars – at 24 months
What Are the Teething Symptoms?
Teething symptoms vary from child to child. The commonly seen symptoms of teething are given below. However, it is important to get the child checked by the doctor and rule out any other cause for the symptoms.
When the first tooth comes, the gums tend to become sore and painful. This makes the child irritable and fussy. This is seen more often during the teething of the first tooth or the molars, which cause more pain due to their larger size. The child can become accustomed to having teeth and later not be as fussy; however, every child reacts differently to the pain and will have different level of fussiness.
Teething is responsible for causing increased drooling. It becomes more evident in the 3rd or 4th month, when the drooling is more than normal. This also differs from child to child.
Drooling is when there is a lot of saliva generated. This excess saliva can cause the baby to cough or gag. Till the baby does not exhibit symptoms of cold and fever and seems fine, it should not be a cause of worry.
With increased drooling, there is a lot of saliva running down the chin. Continuous contact with saliva can cause rash around the mouth and the chin. It is important to wipe the area and keep it dry.
Biting & Gnawing
Biting and gnawing are the two common ones of teething symptoms. Teething babies tend to put anything they get their hands on in their mouth to bite or gnaw on. The pressure built by this action helps with relieving pressure under the gums caused by the growing teeth.
Rubbing the Cheek & Pulling the Ears
When the molars are teething, the pain can travel to the cheeks and the ear. This makes the child rub the cheeks frequently or pull on the ears to relieve the pain. Yet, an ear infection can also make the child pull on the ears and should be checked.
This particular symptom is not agreed upon by doctors and researchers. However, many parents agree that the child has loose stools during teething. A recent study in Australia also confirmed these symptoms. Excess saliva production is said to be the cause of loose stools, however, more than 2 bowel movements each day should be reported to the doctor.
Fever – Low Grade
This is also another teething symptom which doctors do not agree to; however, many parents report a slight rise in temperature during teething. If the fever lasts for more than 2 days, it should be checked by the doctor.
During teething, the child tends to wake up more frequently during night when the pain gets worse. When the first teeth and molars appear, the frequency is more than usual.
Since the child tends to put his hand in the mouth more often during teething, it can cause cold like symptoms. Parents report that the child has runny nose, coughing, etc.
Refusal to Eat
Teething babies need something to soothe the sore gums. Nursing can cause discomfort on the baby's gums and this makes the child cranky; things will get worse when babies cannot reduce the soreness or fill their tummy either. Babies who are on solid food also tend to refuse eating. The doctor should be consulted if it lasts for a few days.
Change in Eating Habits
Some kids might eat more than usual as eating helps relieve the pressure on the gums. Some kids might want to be bottle fed as the spoon might irritate the gums. Nursing babies can pull out as the gums might get sore quickly, and there is pressure on the gums and ear canals while sucking.
How to Sooth Teething Symptoms
Using anything that is cold to soothe the gums is helpful. Some of the most popular things are – frozen teething rings, rubbing ice on the gums, popsicles, cold spoons, frozen bagels or bananas or frozen washcloth.
Medication like Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen can be used as pain killers safely and effectively. They are helpful in ensuring that the baby gets to sleep well during the night when pain can be high.
Teething gels can be used on the part of gum bulging, which causes the gum to go numb. However, it travels through the saliva and can numb the tongue. The baby can swallow it and it tastes terrible. It should be used as the last resort.
When to See a Doctor
Most symptoms seen during teething are similar to other illnesses symptoms. For this reason, if the symptoms persist longer than usual or worsen, it is important to get it checked by the doctor. Also if you are unable to see any tooth eruption in 15 days, an X-ray might be required to be taken by a dentist.
Although teething process lasts for more than 2 years, it is the most painful when the first teeth and molars appears. After this, the child gets used to having teeth and also the pain associated with it. The tooth should be cleaned at least twice a day with a washcloth by gently rubbing it. A baby should never be put to bed with a bottle in the mouth, as now they are prone to developing caries.