“Oh, perhaps she's teething” is a sentence you will probably hear over a 100 times, as your cranky baby wails and carries on as you try to get the shopping done in peace!
Teething is a funny one. It can go practically unnoticed in some babies and others can seem to find it pretty uncomfortable – to put it mildly! One constant is the utter surprise parents get when that first tooth pokes through, a real sign that your baby is growing up.
Like with all developmental milestones, teeth appear at different stages in all babies. The average baby gets their first tooth around the age of six months. The first ones to appear are usually the two bottom middle teeth, follows by the two top middle teeth. The last teeth to make an appearance are usually the second, or back, molars in the upper and lower back of the mouth. Most children should have all of their milk teeth by about three years. With twenty in total (ten at the top, ten at the bottom), here's to hoping your little one doesn't suffer with teething too much.
Common teething symptoms
- Your baby's gum looks sore and red where a tooth is coming in
- One cheek is flushed
- Your baby might chew, dribble and want to gnaw on things a lot
- Your baby's poo might get looser and look different
- Your bundle of joy is a little less joyous – they might be cranky or teary, particularly at night when the pain can sometimes make it difficult for them to sleep
- They might fuss over breast or bottle feeding as the sucking action can hurt their sore gums.
What can you do to help?
- Teething babies love to chew so give your little one something to chew to help soothe those tender gums. Try an unsweetened Heinz teething rusk, the hard texture encourages chewing and biting, which is important for gum and jaw development. For older babies try giving them chilled sticks of cucumber or chilled pieces of soft fruit like watermelon to gnaw on, just wrap them in muslin to prevent pieces breaking off. Always watch your baby at all times in case of choking.
- Cold foods like apple puree or yoghurt can help numb sore, inflamed gums.
- Similarly, cold drinks can soothe the whole mouth. Try chilling cooled boiled water, breast milk or formula in the fridge.
- Teething- rings are available, and for extra relief why not chill it in the fridge first too?
- Lightly massage your baby's gums with a clean finger to help ease the pain. You can also use sugar-free teething gels, just chat with your pharmacist or healthcare professional to understand the best ones to use.
And when should you start cleaning your baby's teeth? As soon as they have sprouted!