Teething is an important milestone in a baby’s life. It is a sign of proper development and shows that your little one is healthily on track. Even though teething is an important and positive step, it can often be a challenging and stressful event for both baby and parent. Therefore, it can be very important to be prepared in advance for this stage and know what to look for. When do babies start teething? What are some signs to look out for? Here is the information you need to answer these important questions and to get ready for this important time in your tiny one’s life.
Most babies will start the teething process between four and six months of age, but some children begin sooner or later. In fact, some babies will not have their first tooth eruption until 18 months of age, which is perfectly normal. If your child still does not have at least one tooth by this time, it is time to talk to the dentist and possibly a pediatrician to rule out any medical concerns. In any case, your child should have all of his or her primary baby teeth before his or her third birthday. This timeline will vary for premature babies and low birthweight babies, who should still have at least one tooth by the 18th month.
Typical Tooth Development
It is common for the central incisors, which are the two front bottom teeth, to erupt in a child’s mouth before any others. The central and lateral incisors – which are simply the four upper front teeth – usually come in next. If your baby’s teeth erupt in a different order, there is no need to worry. As long as the timeline is normal, the order of eruption does not matter.
Signs of Teething
How can you know if your baby is teething? This is an important question to answer so you can help soothe your little one through this potentially uncomfortable time. Here are some common symptoms of teething to watch for:
- Sleep problems
- Irritability with seemingly no other cause
- Swollen gums
- Sensitive gums
- Drooling with facial rash
- Low-grade fever less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit
If your baby shows any of these signs, it is likely that teething has begun. However, if your child shows warning signs of a serious problem, such as a high fever, blue or red gums, diarrhea, vomiting or gum lesions, contact his or her pediatrician as soon as possible.
Since teething can be an uncomfortable process for you and baby, it is a good idea to find ways to soothe and comfort your child during this time. Here are some possible options for discomfort relief:
- Pain relief medication (for infants six months or older).
- Teething rings made of safe, washable materials that can be chilled.
- Teething toys made of non-toxic materials that can be washed.
- A refrigerated washcloth in a plastic bag (can be used like a teething ring).
Keep in mind that there are some remedies that need to be avoided for your child’s safety. They include the following:
- Homeopathic remedies – Many homeopathic teething tablets and gels contain belladonna, a powerful substance that has actually led to seizures in both infants and toddlers. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are safer, more regulated choices for relief in infants six months of age and older.
- Necklaces made of amber – Amber teething necklaces are a choking and strangulation hazard, especially if they break. Furthermore, there have been no studies to prove that amber has any soothing effect on teething children – it is best to steer completely clear of this remedy.
- Benzocaine gels – There are many gels on the market with this pain relief agent, but it is not safe for use in children under the age of two unless by doctor’s orders. Benzocaine can cause children to develop methemoglobinemia, a very serious medical condition that can lead to death. Again, you are better off using pain relievers as long as your child is over six months of age.
Now that you know when babies start teething and what to look out for, you are better prepared for this important but often stress-inducing stage in your child’s life. Remember when you and baby feel emotional about teething that it is a very important process for proper physical development that means your baby is growing up healthily.