While a photo of your baby’s first tooth poking through might be cute, the reality ain’t so pretty. Teething babies are often fussy, teary and the regular providers of sleepless nights. Wisdom tooth pain makes grown-ups grumpy enough, we can only imagine what it’s like having lots of teeth come through at once, especially when you’re a baby that doesn’t really know what’s going on. But here’s Everything You Need to Know About…Teething to hopefully make the process just that little bit easier.
Some babies are born with teeth (no, really), but the first tooth tends to make its first, grand and grouchy entrance around six months. You’ll probably notice some slightly cantankerous behaviour from your little cherub before this though.
What are some of the symptoms of teething?
Sometimes baby teeth emerge with no sign of pain at all. Other times, you can tell the little blighters cause your baby no end of pain and trouble. Other times, according to the NHS, you might notice:
- Redness or soreness on the gum where the tooth is coming through
- A mild temperature
- One flushed cheek
- A rash on their face
- They’re rubbing their ear
- More dribble than usual
- A lot of gnawing or chewing on things (their fingers, your fingers, anything within arms reach)
- They’re more fretful
- They’re sleeping less than usual
Do baby teeth arrive in a particular order?
They do! Like most things in the natural world there is rhyme and reason to the way baby teeth make themselves known. You can generally expect that the front incisors (the big teeth that will help your baby into food) will come in first. In most cases, the bottom front teeth will make an appearance first, but sometimes it’s the top two. Next, the canines (sharp pointies, Dracula eat your heart out) will arrive. Then you can expect your baby’s eight molars to make their grand entrance between their first and third birthdays. Most children will have all of their milk teeth by the time they are 2 and a half years old. Teething is a long old process. Strap in!
How can I help?
Seeing your bambino distressed is no fun. But there are things we can do to help, and comforting or playing with your baby might distract them from any pain or discomfort. Even if only for a little while.
Teething rings: are a good way to help your baby chew on something safely. Lots of teething rings can be put in the fridge for the extra soothe factor. Never put a teething ring in the freezer though as it’s too hard and can damage your baby’s gums.
Things to chew on: If they’re 6 months or older and are chewing on things you don’t want them too, give them healthy snacks to chew on instead. Pieces of apple or carrot are ideal or give your baby a crust of bread or a breadstick to chomp down on.
Teething toys: There’s a lot of these out there but for good reason. Lots of people reccommend the Sophie teething toys, but whatever you go for, check what teething toys are made of and how easy they are to wash. If it’s going to be going in baby’s mouth, you want it to be made of safe materials and easy to clean so it doesn’t go mouldy.
Pain medications: If your baby is in pain, you might want to give them a painkiller like paracetamol or ibuprofen. Chat to your GP or a pharmacist for more advice.
What about teething gels?
Teething gels contain a mild anaesthetic but there’s a lack of evidence into how effective teething gels actually are. The NHS recommends trying non-medical options like a teething ring first, before going down this route. Teething gels are only available from a pharmacist, but if you do decide to use one, make sure you get one specifically for children because general oral pain relief will be too strong for your little one.
How can I soothe a teething baby at night?
If your formerly angelic sleeper (what is your secret?!) is having a dose of sleep regression, a little gnasher or two poking through could well be the culprit. It might be that they’re able to self soothe after a moment or two, but if they’re really restless, your usual go-to comforts will work, especially if they’re combined with some of the tactics mentioned above. It’s really about trusting your own parenting instincts and utilising all the tricks you’ve gathered since you had your baby. The great thing about sleep regression is that it doesn’t usually last forever.
We know teething is tough. If you think teething pain is becoming a real problem for your little one, it’s worth talking to a pharmacist for some extra advice and support. Even though it takes a long time for all their milk teeth to come through, know that this comes in waves, and this wave will pass soon, and your babe will be back to their usual self in no time.