The elation every parent feels when their bundle of joy begins hitting their first milestones is almost indescribable. The first time they smile, the first time they recognize your voice, sitting unassisted – then finally after months and months of anticipation, that very first little tooth pokes through those juicy baby gums.
Some babies start early, with their first tooth poking through as soon as three months old; while others join the game later, around fourteen months old. The ages and symptoms of teething will vary from baby to baby, and you must always remember that your baby will move through this at his or her own pace.
Some teething babies will have obvious signs of their first teeth starting to break through, but others will settle into this new phase in their lives more subtly. Keep in mind that this phase doesn’t last forever and having a baby with a glowing smile is a precious gift to behold.
What to Expect When it’s Time for Teeth to Come in
Many babies have their first teeth breakthrough in pairs: the first two in the middle of their little mouths on the bottom, and then a few months later two more appear in the middle on the top.
While there is no hard and fast rule for how your baby’s teeth will start to make their appearance, there is a general guideline that works for most parents and can help prepare you for what to expect.
Six months: lower central incisors
These little cuties are the teeth that poke through right in the middle of their bottom lower gums.
Eight months: upper central incisors
These upper cuties are still in the middle, and even out the bottom tooth only look.
Ten months: lower and upper lateral incisors
These teeth accompany the ones already there, cozying right up to their buddies and round out their cute baby smiles.
Fourteen months: first molars
These little guys can be very uncomfortable. Expect your baby to be a tad fussier around the time that these guys show up. Don’t take it personally though – it’s not you, it’s them.
Eighteen months: canines
Yep those are the sharp ones! Keep your hands and fingers in the ride at all times…these chompers are sharp!
Twenty-four months: second molars
Just as painful as the first ones, these help your little guy or gal break down more difficult to eat foods, meaning you’re almost ready to quit with the baby food. And who isn’t ready for that!?
What are the signs of teething?
Of course, one of the most obvious signs that your wee one is starting to get their first teeth will be spotting that little white dot on their gums. Many parents don’t realize that their babies have been teething until they’re at this point, and that is okay! We want to make sure you know exactly what to look for when you think your baby is creeping up on this exciting milestone. Here are a few signs and symptoms that your baby may be teething:
Drooling, A lot of Drooling
Is your baby’s onesie continually soaking wet, and you feel like you don’t own enough bibs to stop the torrential downpour from escaping your wee one’s mouth? Drooling is one of the most universally recognized symptoms of a teething baby. If you find yourself changing your little one’s shirt more times a day than you can count, your baby’s firs teeth maybe right around the corner.
Chewing on All the Things
Well, we can’t call it chewing because you need teeth to chew, but for this article, just go with it. When your baby’s gums are bothering him or her they’re going to need to deal with it somehow.
One of the ways they get relief during this time is by gnawing on everything in sight – pacifier, bottle, you, the dog; whatever they can get their meaty little hands on is going to get gnawed on.
If you start noticing that everything in your home that can fit in your baby’s mouth ends up in there, then get ready, because those sweet little teeth are going to be breaking through soon.
While we know the picture below is a pre-teen boy, we figured it was best, to be honest, and tell you they really never stop chewing on all the things- no matter the age.
Babies Got Big Gums, and you Cannot Lie
If you peer into your sweet little one’s mouth and see that their gums are swollen and possibly even a little bit redder than what you’re used, do not be alarmed. It is normal for babies to experience some swelling and a bit of bruising right before a tooth erupts. Just hold tight because in a few short days you’re going to see the sweetest little tooth emerge.
Why are You Pulling on Your Ear?
Ear pulling is one of those things that should always be checked by your family doctor. If your baby is experiencing pain and discomfort and is pulling on their ears, it could be a sign of an ear infection. Only a doctor can tell you otherwise.
After your baby has been given the all clear by your pediatrician, if they are still pulling on their ears it could be a telltale sign that teeth are on their way!
When your little one’s jaw is in pain, that pain is felt in their ears and can cause them pull at them. Remember the song, “The head bones connected to the neck bone?” This is when knowing that tune comes in handy
The Endless Food Struggle
And you thought the problematic eating habits wouldn’t start until your little one was a toddler! Sorry folks, but welcome to the world of teething. Some little ones develop an aversion to eating solid foods at this point because the pain associated with anything touching their gums is too much for them to handle.
Others relish the pressure and can’t wait to get their gummy little mouths around that next bite. Wherever your bundle of joy lands on this spectrum know this – it’s only a phase. One day they’ll be an angry toddler, launching their lunch at you, and you’ll wish you could blame it on teething.
Are we Ever Going to Sleep Again?
The short answer is “no,” but it won’t be because your baby is teething. If you’re asking this question and your baby is showing other signs of teething and not sleeping well at night, then yes, this could very well just be a phase, and soon your wee one will go back to giving you a more peaceful night’s sleep. Fingers crossed, right?
Fussiness at night is common for babies who are starting to get their first teeth and while it’s frustrating and exhausting, I promise it won’t last forever.
Keeping Baby Comfortable
Well, we’ve now told you to want to look for, but we’d also like to share with you a few tricks of the trade so that you can keep your little one as comfortable as possible during this uncomfortable time.
1. Pain relievers
For good measure, you should consult your pediatrician before treating your baby’s symptoms; mainly because so many signs of teething can be signs of other more severe ailments. And remember never to exceed the recommended dosage of any medication you give to your baby.
2. Cold, wet Washcloth
I’ve used this method with my little ones time and time again. Not only does it feel good, but it’s fun to play with!
Yes, some good old-fashioned tomfoolery. You can try bright, noisy toys, rolling around with Mommy or Daddy, a trip to the park, or a favorite “Baby Einstein” episode.
4. Whatever it takes!
**While it may be necessary for your own sanity while keeping your little guy or gal happy and comfortable, please never rub alcoholic beverages on your baby’s gums. Even the smallest amount can be harmful to them. And please avoid giving your baby foods that are choking hazards if they do not already have teeth. Frozen fruits and veggies and hard pieces of bread or crackers are dangerous for babies who cannot adequately chew their food. **
When to call your pediatrician
As with everything else anytime your little one has a fever of 101 or higher that lasts for a few days, it’s time to give your doctor a call. If your baby is 15 months or older and has no signs of teeth eruption soon, it may be time for an x-ray. Bring this up at your next visit and see what your pediatrician recommends from there.
Remember, teeth are a significant milestone in your baby’s life. It seems hard now, because you and the little one are running on little sleep, less food and reruns of Dora. But keep heart – it won’t last forever.