Most babies start teething at around six months. Every baby is different, some are born with teeth or start teething at four months. Some babies experience teething as late as 12 months, when their first tooth pops up. The bottom two teeth usually appear first.
Every baby copes with teething differently. They may show signs that they’ll be welcoming a new tooth at any stage within their first year, but symptoms are common around the six-month mark.
Teething symptoms can last anywhere from a few hours to several months, depending on how many teeth are coming through.
A few babies are lucky enough to feel no discomfort at all but there are tell-tale signs that a new tooth is on its way:
You may notice that your baby is dribbling more than usual. A dribble bib can help to protect clothes and petroleum jelly can reduce chafing.
Your baby will start to gnaw on anything and everything they can get their hands on. Teething toys are a great way of distracting them from chewing on their hands, or rub a clean finger over the gumline.
Your baby’s cheeks may go red, either both together or on one side. The tooth coming through can also cause irritation and your baby may feel hot.
If your baby is fretful and irritable it can be down to teething discomfort. Lack of sleep is also common and they may cry more so cuddles and comfort are important.
Easing your baby’s teething pain
Painful gums are an unfortunate side-effect of teething but there are measures you can take to ease your baby’s discomfort.
Many mums give their teething tot something cold to bite on. This helps to relieve pressure on the gums and ease pain. A cooled teething ring is ideal. Choose a solid, silicone-based option that can be sterilised and popped in the fridge.
A dummy is another good option. Many babies like to chew on the teat to help soothe and comfort.
If your baby is over six months old, cold food can help. Cooled banana, cucumber or soft carrot are good examples but be wary of food that they could choke on.
Teething babies often lose their appetite and will struggle with warm food that can cause more discomfort. Offering cold fruit purees or yoghurt are a good way of topping up the calories and helping with teething pain.
Your GP or community nurse can offer further advice on teething.