Is My Baby Teething?
Having a baby brings many milestones to experience with your baby, one of which is teething. No two children teeth the same way and at the same time.
Babies can start teething as early as 3 months and continue teething through their 18 month mark. A baby is usually complete with their first set of teeth, including their 1 year molars around 1 year of age.
In What Order Do They Teeth?
The most common first teeth are the bottom and center teeth, followed by the top two and center teeth. The pattern of what teeth come next goes outward from there on both the top and bottom.
What Are the Symptoms of Teething?
- Drooling: Babies begin to drool around 3 months as their digestive system is developing. Drooling is also a classic sign your baby’s teeth are gradually pushing forward toward the gum’s surface, a process that can take time and take months before your baby’s tooth pops through.
- Irritability: When your child is irritable, check for swollen gums. Is your child rubbing his gums, biting his hands, pulling at his ears? It’s good to check the list of symptoms here to see if your child is exhibiting any of the signs. Babies are not irritable for no reason. They are trying to tell you (its one way children can communicate) something isn’t quite right.
- Ear Pulling/Cheek Rubbing: Pain from teething can radiate up the jaw, into the ear canal and across the jaw bones as well. They say if we were to teeth as adults we’d have to be hospitalized because the pain is so intense. Gums, ears and cheeks share nerve pathways, causing aches in the gums to travel. Ear pulling can be a telltale sign of an ear infection as well, it’s best to check whether your child has exhibited cold symptoms when trying to rule-out teething. If you can’t distract your baby from daytime irritability and/or your child has a fever with the ear-pulling, it’s best to rule out an ear infection.
- Fever: Mild fevers (below 100.4◦F) may accompany teething. Running a fever is higher than 100.4◦ is NOT a classic sign of teething. Any fevers over 100.4◦F suggests something else such as a virus or a bacterial infection are present and a consultation with your pediatrician is recommended.
- Coughing: Drooling because of teething may cause a baby to gag or cough. They are learning how to control the saliva in their mouths. It’s no cause for concern if the baby has no other sign of a cold, the flu and/or allergies.
- Biting: Pressure from teeth coming to the surface and/or poking through can cause a baby great discomfort. The discomfort can be relieved by counter pressure (in this instance, biting). Your baby doesn’t have the words to use to say, “Hey, my teeth hurt”, but they do have the instinct to bite to relieve the pressure from their teeth. Offer the baby a teething ring, a frozen wash cloth, Tylenol, etc. instead of your shoulder, a friend’s finger, etc.
- Crying: Babies cry for a reason. Crying is a way for babies to communicate. Remember your babies teeth are moving up through bones/tissue and with especially their first teeth, paving the way for these teeth is hard and painful work.
- Refusal to Eat: When a baby feels hungry, they get hunger pangs and will fuss and/or show you by crying or fussing. The same may happen if a baby feels pain radiating in their jaw and/or ears, they will fuss and/or cry. The movement of their jaws and/or the suction of drinking from a breast/bottle and/or eating from a spoon may cause discomfort and your baby might refuse to eat. All of this can cause a snowball effect of pain, discomfort and irritability. If your baby refuses to eat for several days, it’s best to call your pediatrician for further advice.
- Night Waking: Teeth do not choose to emerge during waking hours, nor does the pain from teething only happen during the day. Your baby may be sleeping through the night but all of a sudden is waking at night. It’s best to check for swollen gums to see if this might be the root cause of them waking. Try to avoid nighttime feedings if you baby has waned from them, as starting them back up to try and sooth your baby will cause you to overcome them down the road. It’s best to consult your pediatrician and/or offer pain relief if you think your baby is teething.
As you get to know your baby’s personality with time, you will be able to see their early, telltale signs of teething and know what and/or how you can help them.