EXPERT Q&A

How do I know when my baby is teething?

Most babies start teething when they’re between 6 and 12 months old. Learn more about what to look for when your baby is teething from CareNectar expert Shenley Seabrook!

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Question

How do I know when my baby is teething? What signs should I look out for and what can I do to help the pain?

Answer

Teething is when a baby’s teeth start to make their way through the gums. Some children will have one tooth come through at a time, while others may have teeth come in as sets or pairs. Most babies will have their first tooth appear when they are between 6 and 12 months old, but teething symptoms might appear as much as two to three months before their first tooth comes through. This means that some babies may start showing teething symptoms as early as 3 months of age. There is some variability in the time frame for first teeth, however. Some babies still don’t have any teeth by age 1, and others are born with their first teeth. Here are some signs to look for to know if your baby is teething:

  1. An increase in biting and chewing behavior: You may notice that typical chewing and biting behavior seems to be happening much more often.
  2. Increased or excessive drooling: All babies drool, but drool from teething will likely soak their clothing or even create a rash around their mouth.
  3. Overall discomfort or irritability: An irritable baby who is otherwise healthy may be experiencing teething pain.
  4. Reduced interest in solid foods: Eating can irritate sore gums, so if you notice a loss of appetite, teething may be the culprit.
  5. Increased gum rubbing: Babies love to put things in their mouths, but you may notice this becoming excessive when teething is occurring.
  6. Trouble sleeping or disrupted sleep: You may notice that a previous good sleeper is having trouble sleeping long periods or is refusing naps during the day.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), fever, diarrhea, and rash are actually not common signs of teething. However, if your baby is experiencing these symptoms, you should contact a pediatrician to rule out other medical issues.

The ADA also recommends parents do not use metal teething beads, numbing gels, or teething tablets, even if they claim to be homeopathic or all-natural. These can actually be harmful to babies. Instead, the ADA suggests parents “look for teethers made of solid rubber and avoid liquid-filled teething rings or plastic objects that could break.”

It’s helpful to know that right before a tooth starts to break through the gums, you will likely be able to feel it. A gentle gum massage with a clean finger can be helpful for your baby and will be a beneficial way to ease a bit of their discomfort. Some other ways to help are by allowing the baby to chew on a frozen washcloth

Teething symptoms can last around 8 days. This can include around 4 days before and 3 days after the tooth comes through. However, if multiple teeth are coming through at the same time, the symptoms may last longer. This can be frustrating for both caregivers and babies. Also, teething pain can become worse at night. This might be because there are fewer distractions, and the pain is more noticeable. It can be helpful to maintain a normal bedtime routine and provide extra cuddles and comfort. It’s also important to make sure you engage in your own self-care during this time. An increase in pain typically causes an increase in crying or screaming which can be stressful.

For more information, you can learn more about teething from the ADA here.

The CareNectar team wishes you well on your teething journey!

Meet The Expert


Shenley Seabrook

Shenley Seabrook is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who works primarily with children and adolescents in a private practice setting. She is also a foster parent and lives with her husband and daughter in Indiana. Shenley recently wrote her first children’s book, We Have the Same Heart, which celebrates diversity, inclusion, and community service.