Just when the days of non stop feeding, colic and ceaseless crying seemed to be behind you; when your baby might be sleeping through the night; when he was starting to settle into a regular routine…here comes the tooth fairy to put another spanner in the works!
When does teething begin? Although your baby’s first tooth can appear anywhere between three and 12 months, sometime in the seventh month is the average time of arrival. Take a look at the chart of the baby’s/toddlers mouth to see when the different teeth can arrive.
Even though teeth very rarely arrived before 3 months, teething symptoms can appear as much as two to three months before that first tiny tooth does. Symptoms and severity vary greatly from one baby to the next, but you may observe one or all of the following:
- Drooling. You might find that your baby’s shirts are suddenly soggy. Fasten on a dribble bib to keep her more comfortable (and cleaner), and gently wipe her chin throughout the day to stave off chapping or a red rash (if that doesn’t work, ask your doctor about a mild moisturizer such as Sudocream or even Lansinoh nipple cream). Pooling saliva may also cause a slight cough or even trigger the gag reflex. If she’s otherwise healthy, you can safely ignore both.
- Gnawing. She’s not trying to be naughty. Little nips at your fingers, breast (ouch!), or her spoon help relieve the pressure she feels from under her gums. Teethers and Teething necklaces may then start to come into their own although at three month they will not be able to hold objects in their mouth.
- Crying. Some babies breeze through teething with nary a whimper, while others suffer from a good deal of pain — which they feel compelled to share with you in the form of whining or crying. I have three boys and they have all been so different. The eldest suffered quite badly, our middle son didn’t have any symptoms and we are currently going through very painful teething with our 12 month old. Talk to your doctor about when to administer pain relievers such as infant Calpol or ibuprofen.
- Refusing to eat. Since sucking movements can worsen teething pressure or pain, your baby may refuse to nurse or eat, or may nurse briefly and then turn away. Keep at it, and call your paediatrician if the strike lasts more than a few days. Only yesterday my youngest son literally threw all of his dinner on the floor and would only eat cold yogurt and last night we had a very upset baby awake until we administered Calpol and I gave him milk to settle him.
- Waking. Especially when she’s working on cutting that very first tooth, your baby may fuss during the night as well as during the day, so be prepared for a little extra cot –side duty for a while – not fun when you’ve are just getting some sleep again!
Doctors disagree on whether diarrhoea and fever may also be signs of teething (though most mums who’ve been through it will tell you they are). Even if you think you can chalk up these conditions to an about-to-arrive tooth, mention them to your doctor if they last more than a couple of days and try to keep your baby hydrated with milk and / or water.
Regardless of the symptoms your baby exhibits, you’ll be desperate to give her some teething relief. Putting pressure on the baby’s gums often feels good, so offer him something hard to chew on — extra points if it’s icy cold, which provides a numbing sensation. Try a frozen washcloth; a teething ring, teething necklace or toy; or a biscuit (always supervise her). Or offer cold drinks or food. You can also try rubbing their gums firmly with your (clean) finger — she might not appreciate this at first, but will after the pressure begins to ease her throbbing, sore gums.
As a Mum of three, I would say that teething appears to be the route of most upsets and night waking through the first year. I’m happy to say that it does pass and your children don’t have any memory of the painful experiences. The parents however never seem to lose those dark circles under their eyes 🙂