4 months old
Teething – Know the Symptoms
While some babies have been known to sprout teeth by four months (or earlier), most won’t cut that first tooth until the six- or seven-month mark – sometimes much later. While some seem to have no discomfort whatsoever, many will show teething symptoms for months before you see a white protrusion, such as:
- Drooling. Can you shut off the valve on that faucet? Here is where all of those cute (and formerly useless) bibs you’ve been stockpiling come in handy. Related symptoms are a chin rash and little cough from the extra saliva. Gently rub your baby’s face dry as often as you can, but if a rash develops, protect his or her skin with a dab of petroleum jelly.
- Biting. If you notice your little one biting his or her hand or various objects (like anything in reaching distance, perhaps), it could be from gum irritation.
- Gum inflammation. Before a tooth cuts through, you might notice swelling of the gums that can cause irritability, fussiness and refusal to eat. The good thing is that subsequent teeth (minus the molars) won’t cause as much pain.
- Trouble sleeping. Just as your baby starts sleeping long stretches, here come those teeth to disrupt your much-anticipated rest. If you’ve started sleep training, all rules need to go out the window when teething time rolls around. Your baby needs comfort now – which means you might have to start at square one when he or she is feeling better.
- Gum hematoma. Sometimes the incoming tooth will cause what looks like a dark blister, which is really bleeding under the gums. Although it might look alarming, a hematoma will generally clear on its own (maybe causing some bleeding when the tooth pops through), but call the doctor if it lasts for over a week. In the meantime, cold compresses can help reduce pain and speed along the process.
Could-be Teething Symptoms
- Diarrhea. While many parents swear that every new tooth is accompanied by a bout of diarrhea, experts deny any medical connection between the two. Some agree that the extra saliva might cause looser stools, but true diarrhea warrants a call to the doctor.
- Cold-like symptoms. Most experts agree that teething doesn’t directly cause colds, but babies might be more susceptible to viruses when they put their hands (along with everything else) in their mouths so often. Not to mention that gum inflammation might compromise their immune systems.
- Fever. Along the same lines, many moms swear that their babies will run a low-grade fever (under 101 degrees) right before a new tooth erupts. While some pediatricians acknowledge a connection between gum inflammation and a slight fever, treat it as you would under any other circumstance. Keep an eye on the fever and give the doctor a call if it persists for more than three days.
5 months old
By month 5, your baby may be showing symptoms of teething without you even knowing it. Here’s what to look out for:
- Does your baby’s drool soak through multiple bibs a day? That’s sign number one.
- Is everything going into your baby’s mouth, especially his or her hands? If your baby’s gums are irritated, he or she might start biting everything in sight.
- Unexplained fussiness, irritability, refusal to eat and/or interrupted sleep. Teething is painful stuff!
- Some babies develop what looks to be a dark blister on his or her gum, which is really bleeding under the surface. Normally this will go away on its own, but call your doctor if it lasts for over a week.
- Are your baby’s stools loose? While some parents swear that teething causes diarrhea, experts claim that there really can’t be any medical connection. If your baby does have true diarrhea, that needs to be addressed as its own to prevent dehydration and possibly treat a virus. Keep in mind that your baby could more easily pick up a bug while teething because gum inflammation might compromise his or her immune system, combined with the fact that your little one is mouthing random objects. If your baby just has loose stools (which is different from diarrhea), this could be attributed to your baby swallowing a larger amount of saliva.
- Parents also claim that they know their little one is about to pop a tooth because he or she will run a low-grade fever. While this could possibly be due to gum inflammation, it’s always best to keep an eye on any fever.
- And though this is controversial, many parents see a correlation between teething and cold-like symptoms. Again, babies are more likely to pick up a cold virus if they’re putting things in their mouths.
- If you think your baby is teething, find ways to relieve his or her discomfort.
Brushing Baby’s Gums and First Teeth
- Just because your baby hasn’t sprouted any teeth doesn’t mean you can’t start practicing healthy oral care practices.
- You don’t need to whip out a toothbrush and toothpaste just yet, but it’s a good idea to rub your baby’s gums with a clean washcloth. Not only does this keep your baby’s gums clean, but it’s always a good idea to establish an oral care routine early. Otherwise you might have a harder time having your baby accept a foreign object rubbing his or her teeth.
- Once that first little tooth erupts, now it’s time to really get in the habit of daily brushing. Find a baby toothbrush that has a small head and gently brush the insides and outsides of your baby’s teeth (or tooth) twice a day.
- Skip the toothpaste for now, which probably won’t be introduced until after your baby’s first birthday.
- You might be hearing a lot about fluoride, but don’t worry about it just yet. The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend fluoride supplements for babies under 6 months old.
7 months old
Teething and Oral Care
While you may have noticed the early signs of teething months ago (i.e. excessive drooling, chewing on everything in sight, unexplained fussiness), the average baby will cut his or her first tooth around month 7. Of course some babies get their first tooth at 4 months, and others won’t until after 12 months – which is completely normal as well. But no matter when your baby starts sprouting teeth, the topic of teething is most likely on your mind:
How to soothe a tooth cutting through
- The best way to soothe a tooth cutting through is to simply give your baby something safe to chew on. A teething baby is going to put anything and everything in his or her mouth, so you’ll want to have something set aside specifically for your baby’s teeth.
- A firm rubber teething ring or toy usually does the trick. We like Sophie the Giraffe and Chan Pie Gnon Teether from Vulli, both made from phthalate- and BPA-free natural rubber.
- We also like the natural wooden teethers from Etsy.com, such as from the shops Little Sapling Toys and Little Alouette.
- You can also try hard teething crackers if your baby is having an especially difficult time.
- But if you don’t want to spend money, a cold washcloth and/or a clean knuckle is usually all you need to soothe inflamed gums.
- Your baby might also like his or her food cold, like chilled fruit and cold cereal.
- Some doctors might recommend a small amount of infants’ acetaminophen for the pain, but check with your doctor first.
- You might also want to ask your doctor about topical pain relievers, as they can be a bit controversial. Too much of the topical gel can numb your baby’s throat and gag reflex – making it easier for him or her to choke. And the popular homeopathic alternative Hyland’s Teething Tablets were recently voluntarily recalled in 2010 because the small amounts of belladonna (which can be toxic in large amounts) weren’t consistent. However, a new reformulated version of Hyland’s Teething Tablets is expected to be available in 2011.
How to clean your baby’s first teeth
- While you don’t need to worry about toothpaste just yet, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of brushing with water twice a day.
- Find a baby toothbrush that has a small head (we like this one a lot) that your baby finds comfortable, and gently brush the insides and outsides of your baby’s teeth and gums.
- Your doctor will tell you when to start using fluoride-free toothpaste – usually around the one-year mark. (Fluoride won’t be added to your baby’s toothpaste until he or she can adequately spit in the sink. Beginner toothpaste is safe to swallow.)
- Speaking of fluoride, your doctor might want to discuss fluoride supplements soon. While the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend supplements for babies under 6 months old, developing teeth can benefit from the enamel-strengthening, decay-fighting properties of fluoride.
- First check with your local water supplier to see if your water is fortified with fluoride.
- If you have a well, you can buy a test kit from your local health department or pharmacy. If your water has less than .25 parts per million of fluoride, ask your doctor about fluoride-supplemented drops.
When to go to the dentist
- There’s a bit of controversy over this: Some doctors recommend a visit to the dentist somewhere between 2 and 3 years, and earlier if there’s some sort of dental risk. Yet the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend that your baby see a dentist when the first tooth erupts between 6 and 12 months.
- Most infants won’t sit still enough to have a real teeth cleaning, but you might want to bring your little one along on your own routine appointment, just so that he or she gets familiar with the process.
- It’s true that seeing a dentist early on can prevent more serious problems from developing, but ask your pediatrician on just how early that should be.
Simple steps to healthy oral care
- Brush your baby’s teeth at least two times a day with a baby toothbrush and water.
- Limit the amount of juice and sugar your little one eats on a daily basis.
- When your baby starts toting around a sippy cup, fill it with water so that he or she isn’t noshing on juice all day long.
- Don’t let your baby fall asleep with a bottle, as the milk can pool in his or her mouth and cause tooth decay.
- See a dentist anywhere between 1 and 3 years old, depending on your doctor’s recommendation.
10 months old
Although some babies will have yet to cut a tooth, others have quite a few pearly whites to shine. And apart from the standard oral care issues like teeth brushing, you might have some more specific concerns:
- While teeth grinding is a fairly common childhood occurrence, it can be quite unsettling to hear – especially since many experts attribute grinding to pent up tension. And why would your little angel be tense?
- Unfortunately, it is true that your baby might be releasing tension by grinding at night – the same way some babies bang their heads or suck their thumbs. The only thing you can do is to try and provide a calm, loving environment before naps and bedtime.
- In many cases, there’s not much else you can do. The grinding will most likely stop once your baby develops more mature coping methods.
- In fact, tension might not be the root of the problem at all. If your baby is grinding during the day rather than at night, it could be a new trick that your baby discovered.
- However, if you find that your baby’s grinding is getting worse, talk to your doctor.
- No one wants their kid to be the dreaded “biter” in class, so it can be startling to see your precious baby chomp down on another person.
- For many 10-month-old babies, biting can be a direct result of teething – either to soothe inflamed gums or as a habit from biting down on teething toys. If this is the case, redirect your baby’s bites to an appropriate toy.
- You might also notice that your baby bites down when he or she is overly excited, which is normal for this age. However, there are certain things you should do to discourage biting:
- First of all, no one should laugh or encourage your baby to bite in any way.
- Even an exaggerated “Ouch!” or “No!” can have the exact opposite effect of what you want. Your baby might think it’s fun to make mommy react, or your baby might be testing his or her boundaries.
- Don’t bite your baby back – for obvious reasons.
- Along the same lines, don’t playfully bite your baby, either. This could send mixed messages.
- All of your baby’s caregivers should respond in the same way: Calmly and firmly say, “No biting,” and then move on from the situation. Don’t overreact and don’t make a big deal about it, but make sure your baby knows that it’s unacceptable.
- If your baby knocks out one of his or her baby teeth, call your dentist (or doctor if you don’t have a dentist). If no one is available to see you immediately, you might have to head to the Emergency Room. While a knocked-out tooth isn’t a life-threatening problem, there’s a chance that a fragment of your baby’s tooth could be left, which could be inhaled or choked on. You’ll have to bring in your baby’s tooth for them to look at.
- The dentist will also want to make sure that no other teeth were damaged and that there won’t be any complications when your baby’s permanent teeth come in.
- If your baby chips a tooth, make sure that the piece isn’t in your baby’s mouth. Your dentist will most likely want to see your baby, just to make sure that there isn’t any underlying damage.