It’s so exciting seeing your baby reaching milestones as they grow – and that first tooth is a big one. It’s so cute seeing their smile with that first tooth, but teething can also be a tough stage for babies and parents to navigate.
Baby teething can often feel like a real guessing game when they aren’t able to tell us what is bothering them. Knowing the signs to look out for can help you provide comfort to your little one. As time goes on and with each new tooth that pops out you’ll start to learn what your baby’s own specific signs of teething are and the best ways to manage it.
When do babies start showing signs of teething?
Most babies will typically show signs of teething between 4-7 months, whereas some babies may not pop a tooth until after their first birthday. This means there’s a wide range of what is considered ‘normal’ when it comes to babies and teeth.
As with anything to do with our little ones, they are all different and will do things in their own time. The below chart provides a guide to help give you an idea of when you might expect them.
How long does teething last for?
Your baby will be teething on and off until around 2-years-old when their second molars erupt. Although some babies don’t get these final molars until closer to 2.5 years of age.
Common signs of teething in babies
You’ll usually know when your little one is getting a new tooth thanks to some pretty clear signs. Some babies may display all the common signs of teething, whereas some may show only 1 or 2 – or none.
All babies dribble, but when you notice their bib or clothes soaking wet, it’s a pretty good sign a tooth is near.
Some babies can get a rash on their chin and neck from this excessive saliva. If your baby does get a rash, you should apply a nourishing barrier cream to help treat it. Also, be sure to change their bib/top and wipe their chin regularly.
Red and/or swollen gums
Looking inside your baby’s mouth can be an easy way to check if there is a tooth coming. You’ll typically notice red or swollen gums where the tooth is due.
This is a tricky one because babies cry for LOTS of different reasons. And some babies just tend to cry more than others. Crying can vary from anywhere from a bit of a winge to a whimper to an all-out scream when they teethe.
Irritability and crankiness
If your happy-go-lucky little one seems cranky or irritable, a new tooth could be the culprit. Some babies might tend to be more grizzly at night, while some might stay that way for days.
Wanting to be held more
Who doesn’t want cuddles from their favourite person when they’re in pain or discomfort? Your little one is likely wanting to be held more when they’re popping a tooth.
Red rosy cheeks
Some babies’ cheeks will be a sure giveaway that they are about to sprout a new tooth as they go a bright shade of red. It will often appear on the side of the new tooth.
Slight rise in temperature
Teething shouldn’t cause a fever in babies yet you may notice a slight rise in their temperature.
Have you noticed your little one chomping down on anything and everything they can get their hands on? That’s a sure-fire way to tell a tooth is near! Make sure you keep anything out of their reach that could cause them harm or that is a choking hazard.
Biting seems to help reduce some of the discomforts on their tender gums. Offering them baby teethers, a frozen washcloth or even your finger will help.
Pulling or rubbing their ears
Some babies will pull at their ears or rub them. This is because the pain in the gums can travel to the cheek and ear through the shared nerve pathways.
This can also often be a sign of an ear infection, so be sure to keep an eye on your baby, and if you are concerned, see your doctor.
Soft stool or nappy rash
Nappies can be a real giveaway when it comes to teething. If their stool is softer than usual, it could be a sure sign a new tooth is close by. It’s believed this is due to the increased saliva production during this time.
It is very common for babies to get nappy rash during teething. Make sure you apply a nappy rash or barrier cream at every change and give them plenty of nappy-free time.
Fussy eating or refusing to eat
You might notice your little one flat-out refuses food when they teethe. Or some may want only milk and as much as they can get. Some babies find the sucking motion soothing, while others find it painful.
When it comes to solids, babies can often become fussier than usual and will often favour cold foods. Cold purees, yoghurt, cucumbers or frozen fruit in mesh food bags are great options to help soothe their sore gums.
Many experts disagree on whether teething affects baby’s sleep or not. But if your baby is suddenly waking during the night and there doesn’t appear to be any other reason (hungry/hot/cold/sick, etc.), then a new tooth could be the culprit.
Try and stick with your usual night routine when they’re teething as much as possible.
Remember that your baby may show one, none or all of the above symptoms. Teething can be a difficult stage for both babies and parents, but hang in there! If you are ever concerned about your child’s teething, always speak to your doctor or child health nurse.