It can be difficult to tell when your baby’s teeth are starting to come in.
So many changes happen in an infant’s first year it can be hard to know which milestones are causing which side effects.
You might be having trouble working out what’s going on – especially if this is your first baby.
Are those baby teeth coming in, or is your baby experiencing something else?
Read on to find out some common side effects of baby teething, and when you can expect tooth eruption to begin.
When do babies start teething on average?
It’s always important to remember that all infants are different.
This means one baby will not necessarily begin teething at the same another baby is teething.
Even if you have twins (or triplets) their baby teeth might start to come in at different times.
It’s important for parents to focus on individual children and look at their signs separately.
When do babies normally start teething?
Teething is what we call the process when your baby’s teeth grow or break through the gums. The teething process starts on average at six months of age.
However, we know that children reach their milestones at different times.
And that certainly applies to teething.
Some children get their first tooth a lot earlier than others, and that’s fine.
Having said that, you can usually expect the first tooth to appear within the first 12 months.
Some infants are born with some baby teeth! Although it is rare, it’s also normal and nothing to be worried about.
Some babies don’t begin teething until around their first birthday. This is also normal.
What are the first signs of teething?
If you’re a seasoned parent, you might be used to the signs of teething by now.
Nevertheless, they’re not always easy to spot and, as mentioned before, every baby is different.
This means that even if you’ve had babies before, their teething symptoms might have been different from what you’re seeing now.
Even personality can play a part, as some children are naturally more sensitive or fussy.
Although all babies are different, there tend to be some symptoms that most babies experience during or before teething.
These are some of the most common signs and symptoms:
Excessive drooling can be stimulated by teething. For most babies, it starts between about 10 weeks and 4 months of age and can continue for as long as your baby’s teeth continue to come in.
You can place a bib on your baby to keep his shirt from getting wet. This will also keep him clean and comfortable.
As the baby’s first tooth appears, a rash might show up. The cause of the rash is the skin being wet from drool.
A rash isn’t necessarily something you’d expect as one of the symptoms of teething.
When this happens, many parents worry the rash is a sign of a more serious condition. The good news is it’s just one of the normal teething symptoms.
It’s never a bad idea, though, to get a rash checked out. If your baby develops a rash, ask your pediatrician for a check-up.
Teething rashes are most likely to show up around the mouth, especially on the chin or cheeks. If there’s excessive drooling the rash can also appear on the baby’s neck and even below that.
You can add a moisture barrier to the affected areas to prevent irritation from excessive drooling. Avoid petroleum-based lotions; choose instead pawpaw or coconut oil or any gentle, unscented skin cream.
Find out more in Teething Rash – Everything You Need To Know.
Chewing on things
The pressure under the gums from the tooth that’s poking through causes discomfort or teething pain. It can be relieved by applying counter-pressure, such as biting and chewing.
That’s why babies who are teething tend to chew on whatever they can get their gums on. This might include crib gates and stroller guards, toys and rattles, their own hands, your fingers and your nipples when you’re breastfeeding.
These are other signs your baby is teething:
- Redness or soreness on the cheeks
- Sore or swollen gums
- Cheek rubbing
- Waking up at night
- Sleep regression
- Not wanting to eat
- Ear pulling.
For more information, check out Teething Symptoms – 10 Signs Baby Is Teething.
Signs of teething in breastfed babies
One particular sign of teething, chewing or biting might be especially obvious if you’re breastfeeding.
Teething might cause your baby to bite you.
If this happens, you can gently tell your baby ‘No’ and, if it continues, replace your nipple with something else he can chew on.
He might not be hungry at this time; he is just looking for something to chew.
For more information, read our article Biting When Breastfeeding – 5 Tips To Stop It.
How long does the first stage of teething last?
If you’re deep in the trenches with a teething baby, you might wonder how long it will last.
Usually, teething can continue until all the major baby teeth are through, which means until 2 years of age.
Your little one might have some breaks from teething symptoms during this time.
Can babies start teething at 2 months?
Although around 6 months old is the average time for children to begin to grow teeth, the actual signs of teething can start a lot earlier.
If you start to notice symptoms of teething in your 2 month old, you can probably expect baby teeth to start popping up in the next month or two.
The American Dental Association says between 4 months old and 7 months old is the average age for teething to begin, so expect symptoms a couple of months before that.
Around 2 to 4 months old is the usual time to begin to see symptoms of teething. It can happen earlier and, although rare, some babies are born with a tooth.
How to soothe a teething baby
There isn’t much we can do to speed up the teething process; however, we can find methods of soothing your baby.
Some of the ways you can help with the discomfort of teething pain:
- Offer teething toys to chew on. It’s likely your baby has sore gums during this time and the counter-pressure can help. Teething relief products, such as bumpy rubber toys, teething rings, your clean finger or and a soft, wet toothbrush – without toothpaste – rubbed on the baby’s gums can also help
- Keep chewing toys or a wet washcloth in the fridge. You might find the coolness will help soothe baby’s teething pain
- Put soft, healthy foods in a mesh bag that your little one can chew on. This method provides the benefits of healthy food without the risk of choking
- Hold your child. Sometimes teething babies just need to feel some loving care from mama or daddy when they’re feeling discomfort or pain. Babies are similar to adults; sometimes they just want someone to understand and be there for them
- Offer a teething necklace. Although some experts recommend against amber teething necklaces, these teething necklaces have been used by many parents to soothe their children
- If you’ve already introduced solid foods, you can try placing pieces of vegetable in the freezer and offer them to your baby. Make sure they’re long enough so you can cover them with a piece of cloth for the baby to grab
- Breast milk ice cubes can be used in young babies who are not eating solid foods yet. You can help your baby by gently rubbing the ice cube on the sore gum
- Some families use numbing gels. There are also homeopathic teething gels. Although these are designed to be given to babies, more natural methods are always recommended first. Always ask your child’s pediatrician to provide medical advice before you introduce any product into your baby’s mouth. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you always try non-medical treatments to alleviate teething discomforts, such as rubbing the baby’s gum with a clean finger or providing a teething ring or a rubber toy, before using any medical or pharmaceutical approach.
Do pacifiers help with teething?
What helps one infant cope with teething symptoms might not work for another.
Try different things with your child to see which remedy soothes the discomfort in the gums.
Babies of a younger age might be used to being soothed with a pacifier. An older child might prefer cold food in a mesh holder.
Be aware that pacifiers can cause dental problems if used excessively or for a long period of time once the child’s teeth are out. It’s always worth checking with a pediatric dentist if you’re worried about this.
Babies are more likely to chew on pacifiers if they’re teething. You should inspect the pacifier regularly for signs of wear or damage.
You can also try dipping a face washer in cold water and letting it freeze. Always supervise your babies and young children when they are chewing anything – especially clothes. These items can be a choking or strangulation hazard once they begin to thaw.
Experiment with different methods and see what works for your child and his teeth.
When do babies start brushing teeth?
When a baby’s first tooth starts to come through, you can use a soft, baby toothbrush to clean the baby’s mouth and gums.
Later, you can use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush or a clean, damp washcloth to clean your baby’s gums and teeth.
At this point, there’s no need to use any type of toothpaste. When the first molars start to appear (between 12 and 18 months in most children) you can introduce a non-fluoride toothpaste in very small amounts.
Children should start flossing when their teeth start to fit closely together. This usually happens when the lateral incisors grow and push the central incisors together.
This study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that only 40% of parents wash their baby’s mouth. The ‘Brush, Book, Bed’ (BBB) method is suggested to help you remember to brush baby teeth daily.