Teething babies: causes, symptoms and tips on treating and comforting
It’s a wonderful moment when you see your baby’s first tiny white tooth but it isn’t always a smooth journey as new teeth can also cause a lot of pain and discomfort, as they push their way through sore, red gums. This is called teething. Teething can sometimes be quite a stressful process as there are no set rules on when the right time to start teething is and all babies experience it in different ways. This is why it’s important to learn how to spot the signs of teething and know what you can do to ease their pain.
When will my child’s teeth appear?
Your baby’s first teeth start to develop while they are still in the womb, however, they usually appear after around 6 months. For some babies this may happen a lot sooner while for others it may happen a lot later, this isn’t a cause for concern.
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.
Children usually have all their teeth by the time they’re two and a half, though there are exceptions to the rule.
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.
What are the signs of teething pain in babies?
Before the first tooth appears, your baby might show these early signs of teething:
- Flushed cheeks
- Sensitive red gums
- Excessive dribbling
- A desire to chew on whatever they can find
- Rubbing their ear
- Waking up at night distressed
Sometimes you might be able to see your baby’s tooth coming through, or you may feel a bump on their gum line.
How can I help soothe my baby's teething pain?
Extra cuddles and hugs always 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. A helpful tip is to chill the teething ring in the fridge so your baby will find it extra soothing.
If your baby is distressed and can’t be soothed then you may want to consider giving them some pain relief medicine. Nurofen suspensions are sugar and colour free and offers pain relief for up to 8 hours for babies from 3 months and weighing over 5kg.
Other great ways to help soothe your baby include:
- Massaging your baby’s gums with your finger (clean your finger first, of course!)
- 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 night-time 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 little teeth in our helpful guide.