Teething in babies and young children
There are many important milestones which we look towards to help us track the development of our children. Much like crawling, talking and walking, teething is also one of these milestones and it can sometimes be one of the more challenging for both the little ones and their parents.
When does teething usually start?
The first teeth usually begin to erupt when your baby is 4-6 months of age. But it is not abnormal for this to vary. The teething age often depends on family history, so if one or both parents were particularly early or late cutting their first tooth then, chances are the child may follow.
Most commonly the two bottom teeth at the front are the first to emerge, then the upper front teeth. However natural variations to this frequently occur and should not be a cause for concern.
The primary, or baby teeth (also known as deciduous teeth), should usually all be present by the age of three.
What symptoms can we expect?
While some babies breeze through the teething stage with very few symptoms, others can find teething time an unpleasant and painful experience.
Teething symptoms often include:
- Sore or swollen gums
- Redness or rashes on the chin (associated with dribbling)
- Irritable behaviour
- Trouble sleeping
- Biting and sucking or rubbing their ears and cheeks
- Difficulty feeding
How to ease the pain
There are quite a few useful tips and tricks for easing the discomfort of teething.
Rings that can be safely chilled in the refrigerator not only cool and soothe your baby’s gums, they also provide a welcome distraction from the discomfort. Always follow safety instructions carefully, and never freeze.
Lightly chill (never freeze) a few damp washcloths in a clean freezer bag. These are useful to have to hand for gently dabbing the chin and cheeks or to give to your baby to gnash on, with your supervision.
Cold drinks or soft food, like pureed fruit, can be a tasty and soothing distraction. If your baby is on solids you can also give them chilled apple slices, banana, or carrot sticks to gnaw on.
Always talk to your pharmacist before using a teething gel. Some are designed to numb the pain while also preventing infection in the broken skin where teeth are beginning to erupt.
Prevent teething rashes
Sometimes the constant dribble can cause red painful and irritated skin in addition to the discomfort of all these emerging teeth. Regular and gentle wiping with a soft cloth or tissue should keep the area clean and as dry as possible.
If the pain is very bad or you suspect that your baby may have a mildly raised temperature, consult your GP or pharmacist for a suitable brand of painkiller.
Once we have guided our little ones through this difficult stage we must remember to prevent them from any future discomfort or pain by looking after their new teeth from the start. Babies under 18 months will not require toothpaste yet, but make sure you register your child with a dentist to get the best advice as soon as their teeth appear! Good dental hygiene from the beginning will encourage healthy habits for life.
At the Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning & Childcare Centres in NSW, we follow the very latest edition of the government guidelines. Healthy habits are part of a good education and as with everything, practice makes perfect. Our centres encourage children to swill their mouths with fresh water after eating, and they only ever provide the children in their care with an approved and nutritionally balanced diet.