Baby Teething

Teething is often viewed as a milestone in infant development. By the time the first little teeth emerge, the early, exhausting days of newborn care have settled into a fairly predictable rhythm.   Many parents are apprehensive about potential changes in their baby’s behaviour when they start to teethe. “Can I expect my baby to wake more through the night”? “How do I prepare for hours of holding and soothing”? These and other concerns can plague the most confident of parents.

For most babies, teething does not deserve the bad wrap it gets. Many just grow through the stages of tooth eruption without too much drama or changes in their daily routine. It’s fair to say though, that some babies do become a little more miserable when they’re teething, and need extra soothing and tenderness. Knowing what to do at these times can help.

What Are the Signs of Teething?

Every parent has heard of teething. Some wait anxiously for the first sign of their baby’s drooling and others? Well they just wait to see what happens. Generally, the best approach is to take a relaxed attitude to baby teething. Remind yourself that every baby is an individual. Teething, like all other aspects of your baby’s growth, may well have its challenges. However, don’t assume you’re in for a rollercoaster of a ride as your baby’s little choppers come through. Like most other milestones, teething is best viewed as a normal part of infant development. It will come and it will go. You’ll survive it and so will your little one.

How Long Have You Had That?

Some parents just happen to look in their baby’s mouth one day at around six months, and see one perfect little tooth sticking through their baby’s gum. Others herald the coming of the first tooth long before it’s even erupted from the jaw line.

Its Important To Remember

Teething is a normal stage of development. By the time your child is around 3 years old and has their full complement of 20 baby teeth, you’ll have spent many hours getting used to the teething business. Treat teething symptoms if you need to. But don’t assume your baby’s behaviour is due to teething discomfort.

What Are Some teething Symptoms?

Fussiness

Irritability

Changes in sleep and settling

Extra dribbling/drooling

Changes in appetite

Around four months of age, saliva production increases. Parents commonly interpret this extra moisture as a sign that teeth are coming through. Normally at this early stage, dribbling and drooling is, instead, a sign that the salivary glands are working efficiently. Saliva contains an enzyme which helps with digestion, especially starch. When solids are introduced into the diet at around 6 months of age, an enzyme in the saliva called ptyalin helps in the pre-digestion of starch. This is further broken down in the baby’s stomach.

Five Unusual Signs of Baby Teething

1. A more distinct ‘ammonia’ type smell to the baby’s urine

2. More frequent, loose poos which may contain visible mucous

3. Nappy rash – this is often red and the skin sensitive

4. Red, shiny cheeks

5. Swatting or pulling at the ears

What Aren't Teething Symptoms?

An elevated temperature, diarrhoea or rashes are not signs of teething. If your baby has any of these symptoms, it’s important that your baby is checked by a qualified nurse or healthcare professional.

Teething Myth

It is a myth that teething causes temperatures. Though generations of grandparents may argue with you over this little issue, elevated temperatures are unlikely to be due to teething.

Ouch, You Bit Me!

Breastfed babies who are teething can bite down on their mother’s nipple during feeds. Understandably, this can cause intense pain. Calmly take your baby off the breast and temporarily finish the feed. Eventually, most babies get the message not to bite. It can take a few times of consistently stopping the feed before they understand.

It All Started When They Were Teething

It’s easy to fall into negative habits over the course of teething. Many parents find themselves resorting to strategies which provide quick relief from teething symptoms, such as cuddling or feeding to sleep, co-sleeping and snack feeding. Knowing what’s fair to expect and provide in terms of care can really help to avoid problems continuing long after the teeth have erupted.

What’s All the Fuss?

Teething symptoms can mask other problems such as illness or overtiredness. “It’s teething” is the default response at those times when it’s hard to know why a baby is fussing.  It’s impossible to know with 100% accuracy why babies behave as they do. Parenting is not an exact science, and even the most sensitive and attuned parents can struggle to find reasons why their baby is fussing.

Ruling out illness is an important strategy when assuming teething is to blame.  What to look for, and what symptoms warrant a doctor’s check, can be both reassuring and important. Tired, exhausted parents are often not in the best position to make objective assessments of their baby’s needs. This is why it’s useful to have a checklist of symptoms which are not generally teething related.

When Will My Baby Get Their First Tooth?

Some babies are actually born with a tooth. This interesting phenomenon occurs in around 1 in every 2000 births. By far the majority of babies get their first tooth at around six months of age, with some as early as four months. Every baby will have their own individual teething rates and stages – some take their time with every new little tooth to emerge and others, have multiple teeth erupting like little mushrooms all at one time.  There can be long breaks between teeth erupting through the gums, followed by a period of time making up for the pauses.

Knowing what to expect and what to look for with your baby’s teething can help to boost your own confidence and enjoy this interesting stage of your baby’s development.

Because teething, like most other ages and stages of your baby’s maturity, will happen no matter what you do. It makes sense to just sit back and enjoy this time.

Know This To Be True

If you can see a tooth, it needs cleaning. Baby teeth are particularly prone to decay and it’s important to remove any food or plaque on their teeth. Wiping each tooth over with a soft cloth at bath time is enough in the early stages of teething, when a little mouth can be sensitive. Alternately, a very soft children’s toothbrush is ideal. You don’t need to use children’s toothpaste until around 18 months of age; however, speak with your own dentist about this. Some children are more prone to tooth decay than others, and not all areas have fluoride added to town water. Early decay is a risk factor for poor oral health and it pays to invest in baby teeth.

Remember,

Always speak and check with a qualified nurse or healthcare professional about your baby to understand what your baby’s individual needs are.