The appearance of your baby’s first tooth can be a momentous occasion.
It can also be a relief, especially if the weeks leading up to it have been filled with teething symptoms such as fussiness, looser poos, and fever.
Most babies cut their first tooth between 4 and 7 months of age.
Some babies might be only a few months old when the first tooth appears, while for others it might not happen until after their first birthday. In rare cases, a baby is born with a tooth!
So, when your baby’s teeth come in, what does it signal?
Well, as momentous as it might be, it doesn’t really signal much at all. It will be many more months (even a few years) before a full set of 20 baby teeth is there.
What Your Baby’s First Teeth Doesn’t Signal
Here are 2 things that your baby’s teeth coming in does not signal:
#1: You Have To Wean
The appearance of teeth in your baby’s mouth does not signal that weaning has to occur.
Even so, some mothers are concerned about what the appearance of their babies’ first teeth might mean for breastfeeding. They might worry about their nipple or breast being bitten, but when a baby is breastfeeding correctly, she cannot bite because her tongue is over her bottom gum (and teeth).
If a baby bites her mother’s nipple or breast, it’s likely to happen when she’s not actively feeding (e.g. at the start of the feed or when she is coming off). And if biting does occur, it’s usually a temporary (albeit painful) phase.
Find out more about biting and breastfeeding.
#2: Your Baby Is Ready For Solids
When a baby is ready for solids, there are several developmental signs. Usually, the baby:
- Is able to sit upright, with good head and trunk control
- Can reach for food and bring it to her mouth
- No longer has a tongue-extrusion reflex (the reflex that makes a baby stick out her tongue when something is put into her mouth)
It’s unlikely that babies who are closer to 4 months are developmentally ready for solids; most are ready at about 6 months.
There are also several unreliable signs that a baby is ready for solids, such as when the baby:
- Wakes more often at night
- Wants to feed more often
- Reaches a certain weight
- Starts to grab at your food, or
- When you think that your baby needs ‘real food’
For more information about solids, read the 7 most important things about introducing solids, unreliable signs your baby is ready for solids and how often should I give my baby solids?
The appearance of teeth alone does not indicate your baby is ready for solids. As mentioned earlier, a baby’s first tooth appears at various times in different babies. A few babies are born with a tooth, and some babies don’t cut their first tooth until they are over one year of age! Clearly the first situation is waaaaay too early to start solids, and the other is waaaaay too late!
So, when your baby’s first tooth appears, celebrate the momentous occasion, but don’t read too much into it. It certainly doesn’t mean you have to wean or start solids.