You’ve endured countless sleepless nights during your child’s newborn stage. You’ve worked on a nap schedule and a bedtime routine, your baby is starting solids, and just when you think you’ve gotten parenting figured out, teething hits you right between the eyes! Read on for everything you need to know about teething: when it begins, ends, and what to do about your baby’s symptoms.
Teething can begin as early as 4-6 months of age. The first teeth to erupt are your baby’s lower central incisors. These are the two front teeth on the bottom, and they should appear between 6 and 10 months. Between 8 and 12 months, the upper central incisors should appear. The upper lateral incisors may show up at around the same time, between 9 and 13 months. These are the teeth on either side of the central incisors. The lower later incisors follow, between 10 and 16 months. Next up are the first molars. The first molars are just in front of the second molars, which are located in the very back of the mouth. These upper first molars should appear between 13 and 19 months, and can be very painful for your child, as they are emerging through a much larger surface area of gum tissue. The lower first molars appear between 14 and 18 months. Once the first molars are behind you, the canine teeth come in. These are the pointy teeth between the lateral incisors and the first molars. For some children, these can be the most painful, taking a long time to emerge and cutting through a larger area of gum tissue as they continue to come up. The upper canines come in between 16 and 22 months, and the lowers come in between 17 and 23 months. Finally, the second molars, at the very back of the mouth, erupt between 23 and 31 months on the bottom and 25 and 33 month on top. Many toddlers find the second molars to be painful, but because they can finally communicate to you about their pain and are able to ask for what they need, these molars are often less dramatic of an arrival than previous teeth!
Symptoms of teething vary between children. Some children aren’t too affected by the arrival of new teeth, while others experience a range of symptoms. Some babies are fussy, especially during the period in the few days before a tooth breaks through, due to dull pain and swelling. Many babies begin biting and gnawing on toys or fingers to relieve their pain, and some refuse to eat solid foods, prefering purees, yogurt, milk, and cold drinks of water while they are teething. Drooling can also increase during teething, which can cause a rash on the chin and cheeks, especially when the weather is cold and skin more susceptible to chapping. Occasionally, a baby may run a slight fever due to the inflammation in her gums.
How can you help your child to find relief? First, treat pain at the source by giving your child something cold to chew on. A wet washcloth that has been refrigerated can work wonders, as can a cold teething toy. You may want to try a few options to see what works best for your baby, and then send that particular toy or object to daycare with your baby. A parent we know pureed watermelon and froze it into popsicles, which alleviated her baby’s pain without introducing a choking hazard. Some parents may give their children frozen pieces or bagels to chew on, but this should be supervised carefully, to avoid choking on large frozen pieces that are not chewable. If your baby still feels pain, ask your pediatrician about the right dosage of Tylenol or Advil. An over the counter pain reliever can work wonders, especially when administered before bedtime for a restful night’s sleep. While teething gel is available over the counter, ask your pediatrician before using this type of medication. It can cause numbness in your baby’s throat, and the FDA has warned against using gels on teething babies.
Veteran parents, we need your tips! What has soothed your baby like no other remedy during teething time? Let us know in the comments!