The age when your baby start teething varies. They may show signs of teething from about 13 weeks (3 months) but the first teeth may not appear until your baby is 6 months old. The bottom incisors usually appear first, followed by the top two teeth.
By the time your baby is 2.5 years old, they should have most of their 20 baby teeth. The 2 years in which your baby’s teeth erupt can be really difficult, for both the baby as well as the parents. Your baby can be cranky, irritable and sore.
The typical signs of teething
- Dribbling profusely
- Red, flushed cheeks (or one red cheek on the side the tooth is coming through)
- Restless sleep
- General irritability
- Red & swollen gums
- A desire to chew things or stick fingers in its mouth
- Nappy rash
If it is any consolation, the first four teeth are usually the worse and the process, most of the time, gets easier from there.
What can you do to help a teething baby?
Fortunately, there is a few things you can do to help soothe your baby’s sore gums and restore sanity in your house. Try one of these below, if you are feeling frantic:
Your baby may drool quite a bit during the teething period. It is therefore very important to wipe your baby’s chin quite frequently to prevent a skin rash from developing. You also should keep your baby well hydrated.
To help with irritated gums, try giving your baby a teething ring or a toy to chew on. Some of them can be chilled in the fridge, which may be quite soothing on sore, inflamed gums.
If you don’t have a teething ring, or a toy, try a clean cold flannel, a peeled, washed and chilled carrot or cucumber can also do the trick. Just remember to watch your baby at all times as they can be ingenious with sticking things in their nose, eyes or ears of chocking on things when they are least expected.
Don’t give your baby amber necklaces or beads to chew on. It poses a serious health hazard. Last year a toddler in California died tragically after he strangled himself accidentally with an amber necklace while sleeping.
Baby teething gels may be helpful as they contain a mild anaesthetic, but they should only be used in extreme cases and only as a short-term solution. They generally only work for half an hour at the most, so unless you are desperate, don’t bother.
Caring for baby teeth
- First visit to a dentist should ideally be before your child turns 2. It is very important to check your baby’s teeth and find out what you should and shouldn’t be doing to prevent any potential issues from developing.
- As soon as your baby’s the first teeth emerge, start with a dental cleaning routine. Brush the teeth gently twice per day using just water and a small toothbrush.
- Once baby reaches two years, you can start using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- The night time brush is the most important to establish as food left on teeth at night can cause tooth decay rapidly.
- If baby uses a bottle, do not use it as a comforter and do not let baby sleep or nap with a bottle in the mouth
- Milk and water are the most tooth-friendly drinks. Give cooled boiled water until baby is one year old.Never put sweet drinks including fruit juice into the bottle
- Do not add sugar to baby’s food and if your baby uses a dummy, never dip it in anything sweet. Babies are not born with a ‘sweet’ tooth so avoid giving them one. Read food labels carefully for sugar content which may also be called sucrose, glucose, fructose or maltose. ‘Low sugar’ or ‘No added sugar’ on the label does not mean that the product is sugar-free.
- Start using a cup from 6 months old and wean you baby off bottle feeding by 12 months.
- Remember that tooth decay is totally preventable. Good habits started early last a lifetime.