Teething: symptoms, when it starts, and how to soothe it
You never forget the moment you feel (or see!) your baby’s first tooth. It’s an exciting discovery that flies up there with all the other “firsts” in your baby’s life–first smile, first solid meal, first crawl, first steps. But what ISN’T exciting is the buildup that leads you to that momentous occasion–teething.
If you’ve been hanging around other parents long enough, chances are you’ve heard your fair share of horror teething stories. In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know to survive your baby’s teething journey and live to tell the tale.
Why is teething painful?
Think about it like this. Your baby’s gums are happily gliding along through life when a tooth underneath decides it wants to push through. As the tooth “stabs” its way out into the world, the gums are often understandably sore and painful. It usually takes around 3-5 days before the tooth finally breaks through
the gums (at which point, the pain usually ends) and you may find that your child is unusually fussy during this time.
When will my child’s first tooth appear?
Parents are often concerned when their baby doesn’t reach his/her milestones when the books they read say they should. But the truth is, every baby develops differently and reaches expected milestones at different times. This is also true of teething. Your baby’s first teeth start to develop while they are still in
the womb but usually won’t appear till your baby is around six months old 1 . However, some babies get their first tooth as early as 4 months, whilst others may not get theirs until they’re over one year old 1 . This is completely normal so don’t worry if your child’s teeth show up earlier or later than expected.
The first teeth to start pushing through the gums will be the bottom front teeth known as incisors, closely followed by the top front teeth. The back teeth usually appear last 2 . Children usually have all their teeth by the time they’re two and a half, but again, every child develops differently.
Image Source: Nurofen for Children UK | Tips on comforting teething babies
What are the signs of teething?
Some babies don’t have any pain or discomfort at all whilst teething. However, just before the first tooth arrives, you may notice that your baby is more irritable than usual. One of their cheeks may be flushed, they may be drooling a lot more, and they may chew on anything they can get their cute little hands on 1 .
If you run your finger along their gumline, you may even
feel a tiny bump–that’s likely to be your baby’s new tooth coming through!
Some parents do complain that their babies have a fever during teething but there is no official research linking the two 2 . Most of these symptoms will go away within a few days. If you’re becoming worried your child is not well, then see your doctor.
How can I help soothe my baby's teething pain?
Extra cuddles and hugs may help a teething baby. You’ll also find they often love to chew, so give them something firm to bite on such as a teething ring (chill it in the fridge beforehand if you want it to be extra soothing).]
Other great ways to help soothe your baby include:
- Massaging your baby’s gums with your finger (clean your finger first, of course!)
- Giving your baby a sugar-free pain-relief medication that is appropriate for their age if they seem to be in pain 2 .
- Rubbing a teething gel on their gums if they’re older than four months 2 . You can get teething gel from your local pharmacy which often contains a mild local anaesthetic (that numbs the discomfort caused by teething) and antiseptic (to help prevent infections as the tooth breaks through the gum).
- Give your baby something to chew on; baby rusks and teething rings are great choices and it’s good to always have these on hand as your baby is teething.
- If your baby is drooling more than usual, make sure you wipe their chin and face frequently to help prevent them from getting a rash.
3 tips for a happier home when your child is teething
Share nighttime soothing duties with your partner
● If night sleep is disrupted, encourage plenty of naps for the whole family
● Make sure you take teething rings with you when you’re out and about
Plaque can quickly build up on your baby’s teeth as soon as they have them. That’s why caring for them from the start helps new teeth stay strong and healthy.
Has your baby’s first tooth come through (or about to)? Find out how to care for your baby’s first littleteeth in our helpful guide.
1. NHS-UK. Baby teething symptoms. nhs.uk Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/teething-and-tooth-care/. (Accessed: 5th
2. NHS Direct-Teething. Available at:
http://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/encyclopaedia/t/article/teething/. (Accessed: 3rd August 2018)
For use on the Nurofen website | Zinc number: UK/NfC/0918/0093