Your baby is developing new skills each day, from reaching and rolling to rocking on those chubby knees as they get ready to crawl, meeting all of those new milestones is exciting for both you and them!
One particular milestone that can be a little less fun, however… is teething. Some kids begin teething as early as four months old, but more commonly around month six. Suddenly, the baby who was content to watch the ceiling fan, has drool stains down to their belly button and won’t sleep anywhere but your arms.
Teething pains can begin long before those first pearly whites pop through, so unless you know the signs for teething, your baby’s sudden behavior change can be baffling. We are going to go through the common signs that teething is around the corner and what you can do to prepare for it!
For whatever reason, some children have no problem with teething at all, and even within the same child, some teeth seem to hurt more than others. Many parents have been surprised by a tooth that has broken without any warning, and many more parents have felt as though it took years for that molar to finally surface.
There’s no telling what your baby’s experience will be until you’re going through it, but here are some common signs (and helpful gear) to look for:
All babies drool to an extent, but if your baby’s mouth is suddenly a waterfall of saliva, there may be a tooth popping through pretty soon. Fastening an absorbent baby bib on your baby during teething is a great way to keep the sensitive skin on their neck and chest from developing uncomfortable wet rashes.
Biting and Chewing Everything in Sight
Chewing and biting everything they can fit in their mouth (and some things they can’t) are tell-tale signs that teething is coming soon. Chewing puts downward force on the upward pressure that comes from teeth pushing through. The best thing you can do to help your baby is provide a lot of fun, safe chewing toys for them to bite on. If your baby is getting their front teeth in, circular toys can be a great option, but if they’re getting their back teeth in, toys with protruding nubs might work better.
Look for toys with different textures and materials so that your baby has options for relief. This chew toy has both food-grade silicone and wood and can be chilled for additional relief, whereas this one has soft cloth that can be dipped in water and cooled.
Being Extra Fussy
Unfortunately, fussiness is often part of the equation, and there isn’t one right answer for helping alleviate your baby’s distress. Instead, try to stay calm and patient and be available for your baby during what can be a difficult time. Offer cuddles, favorite stuffies, and chew toys or favorite foods to help make your baby feel better. The fussiness isn’t fun, but it will pass with time.
Those tiny teeth have to go through a lot of tissue before they make their debut, and that can cause baby’s gums to look swollen and angry. To help those poor gums out, it’s a good idea to keep several things on hand. Reusable popsicle molds work great for freezing formula, breastmilk or baby food puree, so baby can enjoy sucking on something cold. Additionally, most teething toys are suitable for the fridge, and chewing on a chilled toy can also alleviate pain associated with swollen gums. There are also great finger toothbrushes that you can use to massage your baby’s aching gums while promoting good oral hygiene.
It might seem strange that teething can cause diarrhea and diaper rashes, but there are a couple of reasons why this is the case. It’s possible that the gastrointestinal disruption comes from starting solid foods around the same time that teething starts. It could also be all of the extra saliva that your baby is swallowing that is causing the havoc. Whatever the cause, you should be prepared with extra diaper cream and sensitive wipes to keep that bum as dry and clean as possible.
Signs of Sickness
Other signs of sickness that often show up around teething include flushed cheeks, coughing, fever, ear infections, runny nose, irritability, and resistance to sleep. Always talk to your pediatrician about other potential reasons for these symptoms, but they are often just a normal part of the teething process. Your pediatrician may recommend other suggestions to try. When those teeth come in, they can be a real pain, but when you’re prepared to deal with them, you can take the edge off for both you and your baby!