Teething Symptoms and How to Help Your Baby Get Relief
When babies start teething, the pain and discomfort can be hard on them. In this short guide, we'll explain what teething is, when you can expect it to occur and its most common symptoms.
Plus, you'll discover several safe and effective strategies recommended by pediatricians to help your baby find relief from teething pain.
What is teething?
When your baby's teeth start breaking through the gums, teething has begun, according to KidsHealth.org. It's an ongoing process that typically starts with the appearance of their two bottom front teeth.
“Discomfort from teething should be pretty mild,” pediatrician Dr. Lisa Diard told the Cleveland Clinic. “And any symptoms your baby does show should only last a few days until the tooth erupts.”
While teething is a normal part of your baby's development, it can bring some challenges for babies and parents alike.
When does teething happen in babies?
Teething starts as early as 3 months of age, according to KidsHealth. The first teeth usually appear in babies' mouths between the ages of 4 to 7 months. These central incisors are followed by the four top teeth (the central and lateral incisors) about a month or two later.
Approximately a month after that, the top two lateral incisors make their appearance. Next, the molars come in and finally, the top two pointed-looking teeth known as the "eyeteeth" appear.
Your baby will typically have 20 primary teeth by age 3. But not all babies follow the same development schedule, and certain factors can affect when their teeth come in.
For example, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal linked early-life stressors to the faster appearance of baby molars.
What are the most common teething symptoms?
Just as all babies have their own teething schedule, they may have slightly different teething symptoms.
According to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, these are some of the common baby teething symptoms that parents should look out for:
- Excessive drooling
- Swollen, inflamed gums
- Continually putting their hands or fingers in their mouth
- Crying, fussing and being crankier than usual.
In addition, if your baby had begun sleeping through the night, that could change during periods of teething.
Some folks claim that fevers, diaper rash and sleeplessness are also signs of teething. However, Diard said those myths have not been confirmed by research. It's better to investigate why these symptoms are appearing, rather than pin the blame on teething alone.
How to help your baby get relief from teething symptoms
KidsHealth suggests several pain relief tips to help improve your baby's teething symptoms, including:
- Providing refrigerator-cooled rubber (not liquid) teething rings for your baby to chew on
- Giving pediatrician-approved acetaminophen after 6 months of age
- Wiping their drool regularly to avoid skin irritation or rash
- Giving them cold foods such as applesauce once they're old enough for solid food.
In addition, Diard said a refrigerated wet washcloth will help a baby's tender gums. “Chewing on a cool, wet cloth can help decrease inflammation along the gums,” she said.
Diard warns against putting teething toys or cloths in the freezer. “Frozen teething toys can make them too hard. They can also be so cold they hurt your baby's gums,” she explained.
If you suspect your baby may have something more serious than teething pain
Always consult with your pediatrician or health care provider if you suspect something beyond teething, or if fever, running nose or diarrhea is present.
If you'd like to learn more about teething relief strategies for your baby, you can check out the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's guide Safely Soothing Teething Pain and Sensory Needs in Babies and Older Children.