Teething? What You Need To Know.

Baby isn’t happy unless feeding or sleeping and suddenly drools more than a St. Bernard. Is this normal? This might have been the exact subject of an early Google search as a parent, and the response? Oh yes. they’re teething!

This part of development doesn’t just cause pain but a host of other symptoms and is absolutely no fun for parents or babies, but it is absolutely normal. If you suspect your little one has started teething, or you’re waiting for those first and second molars to come in for your toddler, take heart. Teething is unpleasant but thankfully temporary, and there are a lot of ways you can ease the discomfort along the way.

When will teething begin?

From as early as three months until at least age two, teething will be your constant companion, or shall we say nemesis? Some babies are born with teeth and I call their parents lucky – they’ve dodged the teething bullet for at least a few teeth! If your baby doesn’t get teeth until much later, that’s perfectly normal too. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with getting teeth early (from birth to three months) or late (from seven to eleven months). Some teeth may erupt with little pain and others, especially the canine teeth and molars can be vicious. Thankfully the central teeth on the top and bottom some in first, so you’ll ease into the teething season.

Signs and symptoms of teething

Every child is different with how their body responds to teething, but nearly every child will be irritable, cranky, and have excessive saliva as a new tooth is pushing through the surface. Some children will spike a fever or experience diarrhea when sprouting a tooth. As a result of other symptoms from teething, it’s possible that your child will have trouble sleeping or eating, so fatigue and dehydration can occur. These symptoms can range from unpleasant or dangerous, so take care to monitor your child and do everything possible to alleviate their discomfort.

Treating and Soothing Teething Symptoms

It’s a lot of drama for one little tooth isn’t it? The good news is that these symptoms are temporary and you can help your baby endure it. For excess drooling, have a bib on your baby at all times. This will save many wardrobe changes throughout the day and lessen your laundry load. One of my babies was such a drooler when teething that she soaked through a sweater! The bibs are a big help and look really cute, too!  To help with inflammation and pain, start with a cold cloth or a small sack of frozen peas for baby so suck on. Teething rings are helpful, but if, like me, you’re always looking to clear out your home of baby and kid clutter, a frozen wash cloth will do the trick.

As teething symptoms increase in severity, so must our attentions. An irritable baby will not eat well, especially with mouth pain, but dehydration is grave. Keep an eye on baby’s fontanel (the soft spot on the top of his head). If it appears sunken, this is a sign of dangerous dehydration and you should contact your paediatrician or call your province’s nurse hotline for further direction. To avoid dehydration, offer the breast or bottle regularly and offer a water soaked wash cloth for baby to suck on. For babies over one who may use a sippy cup, keep it full of water day and night and avoid sugary liquids.  

It’s also normal for your baby to be off her normal routine when she’s teething! I loved having my babies on a schedule for the predictability it affords, but teething does throw these things off for a couple of days and you need to embrace that and not fight against it. If your baby hasn’t eaten or slept well, feed and allow napping on demand.

Finally and as a last resort, there are infant-safe pain relief medicines for babies as young as four months old. When a teething fever spikes or no amount of rocking, rubbing, or icing will dull baby’s pain, this is a safe option. Be sure to check with your pharmacist or doctor about the exact dosage as it depends on weight, not age. If you have the most up to date weight handy, the pharmacist will be happy to calculate the exact dosage necessary for your baby.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Teething is no picnic, but like all challenging parts of parenting, it will pass. It’s nice to know these difficult days will play no role in your child’s future memories and if anything, the extra attention required during these times can be great bonding between parent and child. And once you’re through the rigours of teething, the fun of feeding solids begins. Teeth are one sign that your child is ready for more substantial food, and that’s a fun adventure to discuss another time.