Nothing is more adorable than when your baby’s first tooth starts coming in as their first dental milestone! Unfortunately, erupting teeth are often painful, and when a baby isn’t feeling well, they can’t tell you what is going on. Still, there are signs that can let you know whether your baby is teething.
At first, you might not know what’s happening if your baby’s fussy and you can’t see a tooth trying to come in. Especially if they are presenting symptoms two to three months before a tooth even shows itself, but their discomfort is real.
Teething Symptoms To Watch For
- Is your baby biting more than is typical? Your baby may be gnawing on everything in sight to find some relief.
- Is your little one drooling more than usual? During the teething stage, babies often produce extra saliva to soothe tender, swollen gums.
- Is your baby extra cranky, especially during nighttime? Teething pain can make your infant wake up extra needy during the night seeking comfort.
- Is your baby’s sleep pattern different? If they are in constant pain, you may notice they won’t nap per their usual pattern and even awaken early.
- Is your baby experiencing fever, a facial rash, coughing or diarrhea? You might notice these symptoms, and a low-grade fever isn’t uncommon when teeth are about to erupt.
- Does your baby tug on their ear or touch their chin and cheeks? This instinctive reaction helps them feel better by applying pressure that offers relief for their pain.
- How old is your baby? There’s no set time for teeth to come in, but babies tend to start teething around six months. Keep an eye out for their bottom two front teeth coming in and their top two front teeth after that.
- Has your baby’s appetite diminished? If their mouth has sore spots and hurts, they’ll likely push away offered food. But make sure they keep their caloric intake up!
- Unsweetened cold foods like applesauce, yogurt, and baby foods
- Strained foods like bits of unsalted mashed potatoes
- Cooked vegetables such as carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes
- Bits of chicken, pork, or hard-boiled eggs
Help Your Teething Baby Feel Better
Using a clean finger or moist gauze, gently massage your baby’s gums. You can even give them a refrigerated spoon or teething ring to soothe gums (avoid teething necklaces or bracelets as they can present choking hazards).
Another option is to give them a doctor-approved over-the-counter infant remedy. An infants’ or children’s OTC pain medication (acetaminophen like Tylenol or ibuprofen like Advil or Motrin) can relieve discomfort.
Caution: Avoid teething medications with benzocaine or lidocaine as they can harm your baby.
Clean Mouth, Healthier Baby
Once your baby’s teeth start coming through the gums, you’ll want to care for them so they stay healthy. Before teeth come in, you can take a soft, clean washcloth and wipe your baby’s gums twice a day. A good time is after their breakfast and then again before they go down for the night. This habit can then transition to tooth brushing in the morning and evening as they grow older.
The goal is to make sure oral residue from food and bacteria don’t build up in their mouth. Once the teeth start coming in, you can use a soft-bristled baby toothbrush to clean their little chompers with a rice-sized bit of fluoride toothpaste on the brush. When they are old enough to spit out the toothpaste (ages 2-3), you can increase the toothpaste to a pea-sized amount.
Be sure to keep your baby’s developing smile healthy by taking them to their first dental appointment around their first birthday celebration. Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend this scheduled milestone. Your baby deserves to have healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime of smiles!