Think your baby might be teething and are curious about teething symptoms?
Before we get into the actual symptoms, there are some things you need to know about teething.
Your baby's teeth buds form while he is still in the womb. Some babies are actually born with teeth, but most babies will cut their first teeth between four and seven months of age.
Some babies won't get their first teeth until after their first birthday, but by the age of two and a half, most children have their full set of twenty baby teeth.
The teething process is a mysterious thing – some babies will breeze through it without batting an eyelid.
Some parents are amazed to find their baby going to bed with two teeth and waking up with four. Other babies really seem to have a hard time and need lots of help and soothing from mum and dad.
It can be very exhausting and difficult when sleep deprivation and what feels like endless consoling and cuddles takes a toll, so make sure you have a break to breathe and have some you time.
If you're breastfeeding, teething is not a sign that it's time to stop breastfeeding – since babies can be born with teeth, it's a myth that your baby's first teeth mean a baby is ready for solid foods only.
Find out more in our article, Two Things Your Baby's First Teeth Are Not Telling You.
Below are some common teething symptoms as well as some teething remedies for unhappy babies.
For most babies, the symptoms begin around three to five days before the tooth appears, and then disappear when the tooth cuts through. Some babies may not have any symptoms or be at all bothered by teething.
For others, the sore gums can cause a myriad of problems including:
- General fussiness
- Sleep problems
- Red cheek or cheeks
- Swollen gums
- Chewing on anything and everything in site
- Refusing solid food
- Ulcer on gums
- Ear pulling
Other possible teething symptoms: Some parents report loose stools, runny noses and high temperatures as other symptoms.
Although, paediatricians are not in agreement over whether these are actually symptoms of teething, or whether teething makes babies more prone to infection.
You know your baby best, if you think these symptoms are connected with an illness, talk to your doctor.
The title of this section could be “How do I stop the crying?” or “Please, send help”, because after a few nights of no sleep at the mercy of your miserable, clingy baby, you'll probably do just about anything to relieve the pain. Here are a few ideas for ways to help your baby deal with any discomfort and teething symptoms:
- Teethers – there are loads of different types of teethers on the market. From fun wild animal shaped teethers, to simple freezable rings, different mums swear by different types of teethers. The ones you can freeze are good because the cold gently numbs your baby's gums.
- Vegetables – fresh or frozen vegetables are a great, cheap alternative to store bought teethers. Refrigerated cucumber is great for babies to suck on because it's soft and cold. Pineapple is another great chilled food to use – its enzyme, bromelain, is a great anti-inflammatory, assisting with swelling and inflammation in the body. Pineapple is packed with vitamin C and aids digestion too.
- If you haven't started weaning your little one yet, you might prefer to use a frozen washcloth as a teether. Simply wet a clean wash cloth, fold it and stick it in the freezer. When your baby is showing signs of discomfort, give him the washcloth to chew on. The chewing helps to relieve the pain, and the cold will numb the sore gums.
- Offering your finger as something to gnaw on could give your baby some relief, although only try this before any teeth come through otherwise you could end up with a nasty nip!
- Breastmilk is full of natural painkillers, so, if you breastfeed, this could be your secret tool in the battle against teething pains. You may find your baby hums while feeding during bouts of teething, apparently the vibrations help to soothe the gums.
- Some mothers use amber teething necklaces and swear by them, others find they weren’t helpful – but you can read about them more in our article and make up your own mind.
- There are plenty of painkilling and numbing products on the market, speak to your pharmacist to find out which ones are suitable for your baby. Bonjela make a special teething gel for babies, but their normal product for adults is not safe for use on children, so make sure you buy the right one. Numbing products, such as Bonjela, can also numb the baby's tongue and make breastfeeding difficult, then may also numb your nipple by transferral!
If your baby is in lots of pain with teething, keep trying different things to see which works best. Your baby may be clingy while teething, so make sure to give lots of cuddles and reassurance. Even just being held can make babies feel less stressed. It can be hard to look after a very unhappy baby, but remember, teething won't last forever.
In the meantime:
- Use absorbent sheets in your baby's cot to deal with excess nighttime drooling
- Dress your baby in dribble bibs, and always carry spares (hundreds of them!)
- If the drool gives your baby a rash, try applying some coconut oil to the affected area. This should act as a natural barrier cream and allow the rash to heal.
See the BellyBelly Marketplace for baby products and accessories, including teething items.