Baby’s first tooth is an exciting milestone, but teething can also bring with it sleepless nights and irritability. Typically, babies get their first tooth around six to nine months of age, but this can vary wildly, with some having teeth at birth(!) and others celebrating their first birthday before the see an emerging tooth. Teeth can also move around inside the gums for months before they actually come through, causing discomfort and frustration for your little one. Generally, most babies have all 20 of their milk teeth by the time they’re two and a half, so the process does take quite a while.
How to Spot the Signs of Teething
There are some distinct signs you’ll probably notice in your baby when she begins teething, these can include some or all of the below:
- increased amount of dribbling and drooling (sometimes leading to a rash)
- gumming or gnawing at hands or other items
- red cheeks
- increased bowel movements
- increased night waking
- changes in feeding habits (some babies find feeding painful during particularly bad spells of teething)
- nappy rash
- swollen gums with possible little white bumps below the surface
How to Deal with Teething
As a parent, it’s tough to see your little one suffering (and to endure the wailing!), but fortunately there are a few things you can do to help with the discomfort, such as:
- chill teething keys and toys in the fridge (but not the freezer) to make them extra soothing for Baby
- if baby is eating solids, offer peeled cucumber or carrot sticks from the fridge (but be careful offering these after the first tooth has come in because Baby can then bite off a chunk leading to a choking hazard)
- give your baby lots of cuddles and allow her to feed as often as she likes
- run a clean finger along Baby's gums
- if Baby is eating solid food, offer cool apple puree or yoghurt
- try sugar free teething numbing gel, but check the age and dose recommendations first and talk to your pediatrician (and don't use gel before feeding as it numbs Baby's tongue
How to Care for Baby's Teeth
Even before your baby has teeth, you can gently brush her gums with a toothbrush to get her used to it. If she wants to chew the brush, allow her to, as it will help her grow accustomed to it. To begin, you can also use a small amount of baby toothpaste on a muslin and rub the teeth gently if you find this easier.
As soon as your baby’s teeth have come through, you should start to brush them, using a baby toothbrush.
As soon as Baby's first tooth appears, take her to the dentist for an initial checkup.
Take care to limit the amount of sugar in your child’s food and drinks. Your health visitor will be able to give you advice and information about a healthy weaning diet, so don’t be afraid to ask.