Teething is something every baby (and every family) goes through. For some little ones, it’s no big deal–maybe a little extra drool and that’s it. For others, it can mean weeks of fussiness and lack of sleep for everyone. Here are some teething tips from the experts, a few things to look out for and a few important teething no-nos.
How Do I Know When My Baby Is Teething?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most babies get their first teeth between 4 and 7 months. But the timing of those first teeth has a lot to do with genetics, so don’t worry if your baby’s teeth come in a little later. Most babies get their four front teeth first, followed by first molars and then the pointy canines in between. Some signs baby may be starting teething include fussiness, crying, extra drooling and a desire to chew on something hard. Teething can also cause a slight rise in body temperature, but it doesn’t bring on a full-blown fever.
Is It Just Teething or Is My Baby Sick?
Some of the symptoms of teething and illness can be similar. Irritability and clinginess are common in both cases. And many parents don’t realize that their baby’s temperature may actually rise just a little as those teeth come in. But according to the AAP, a fever of 100.5 or more is not associated with teething and is more likely a sign of illness. If your baby has a real fever during the teething months, or if irritability goes beyond occasional mild fussiness, it’s a good idea to visit your pediatrician.
What Can I Do When Teething Makes My Baby Fussy?
- Holding and comforting your teething baby is always helpful during the teething months. Sometimes a parent’s presence can be all it takes to soothe a teething infant.
- Massaging baby’s teeth with your finger can bring much-needed relief and also give you and baby some bonding time.
- If teething seems to be causing pain, the AAP recommends a weight-appropriate dose of infant ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- A teething ring made of firm rubber can also be helpful (don’t use the rings that freeze since they tend to get too hard and cold to chew).
Teething No-Nos: From Ineffective To Dangerous
- Teething biscuits: In most cases, teething biscuits won’t hurt, but they’re not usually the best option. Most old-school teething biscuits have unnecessary sugar. They can also be a choking hazard so be sure to watch your baby with the biscuit if you go this route.
- Over the counter teething products: Experts have reconsidered the kinds of products our parents may have used to numb our sore gums back in the day. It turns out they just aren’t safe–or very effective. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning against homeopathic teething tablets which contain inconsistent levels of the potentially toxic plant belladonna. The FDA has also warned against the use of over the counter gels and drops containing benzocaine, which can also be dangerous for infants. These products are also less effective than once thought because they don’t stay on baby’s gums long enough to work, according to the AAP.
- Amber teething necklaces: Popular amber teething necklaces are another teething no-no. While they might be pretty, they are a choking hazard and haven’t been shown to be effective. If baby needs something hard to chew on, choose a rubber ring as described above.
When Should My Child See A Dentist?
The current wisdom is for babies to have their initial visit to the dentist’s office as soon as those first teeth come in. Your dentist will take a look at early dental development and give tips for avoiding early tooth decay, which is a growing problem in the age of the sippy cup. Early dental visits also help establish a relationship of trust between children and their dental providers. If you have questions about choosing a pediatric or family dentist, your pediatrician’s office can help.
Teething Resources at Loudoun Pediatric Associates
At Loudoun Pediatric Associates, we’ve been helping babies and families get through the teething process for decades. For some, it can be a challenging period in parenthood, but we’re here to help. We’ll talk teething at your regular check-ups and are also available for any concerns you have. And remember, if you aren’t sure whether baby’s symptoms are teething or illness, we’re always here to help.