Even though teething symptoms and their intensity differ between children, for a majority of parents and their babies, teething can be a very stressful process. Once the teeth start moving towards the surface and breaking through the gums, the pressure they create results in pain and other unpleasant symptoms, like the urge for chewing, or reduced appetite and crankiness.
Teething usually starts around the age of 6 months, although it can begin as early as 3 months and as late as 12 months of age. Teething symptoms occur four days before the tooth appears and can last for three more days. In this period most children experience at least one, but more often several unpleasant symptoms.
Typical teething symptoms:
- Swollen and tender gums that your child keeps rubbing with their finger – due to the pressure the erupting tooth is creating, gums get swollen and sensitive. A gentle massage using your finger or a damp soft cloth can alleviate some of the discomfort. Also, chilled teething toys coated in teething gel can help.
- If you look into your child’s mouth, you may notice a very red part of the gums, with a tooth more or less visible inside of them. Sometimes there can be light bleeding or a small haematoma – an accumulated blood blister inside the gum. If in doubt, visit your physician.
- Excessive drooling – wipe your baby’s face often by patting it with a soft cloth and apply protective cream on the chin area to prevent irritation.
- Gnawing or sucking on anything they can reach – this can mean toys, fingers, household items, your hair, etc. Offer them a suitable replacement, such as a teether or a damp chilled cloth.
- Your baby may be red in the face, sometimes even with warm cheeks. However, if your child gets fever higher than 102°F or 38.9°C, do seek medical help, since this is not a normal sign of teething.
- Rubbing the ear and the cheek on the side where the tooth is coming up. Your child has reduced appetite, especially for solid foods. For some babies, chewing during teething can be very uncomfortable, so they may start resisting to eat. Try offering them with some chilled soft foods, such as yoghurt, applesauce, mashed fruit, smoothie, etc.
- Restless sleep during the night. It may seem that the symptoms worsen during the night – the most probable explanation is that your child gets even more nervous when they’re tired, so every symptom they may be feeling exacerbates due to tiredness.
- Coughing or gag reflex – your child may swallow some of the excessive drool being created during the teething process, which can cause them to gag or cough. The first step is to rule out any other causes, such as a cold or allergies. Otherwise, your child shouldn’t have problems with breathing. Swallowing the drool can also cause a mild, loose stool, but if the diarrhea becomes severe, visit your physician immediately.
- Your child may become a lot more nervous and irritable during the teething process. They may cry more than usual or have trouble relaxing. Some of the suggestions we’ve described above can help alleviate some discomfort, but there is no better cure for crankiness than lots of cuddles.
- During the teething phase, your baby will likely try to put anything and everything within reach into their mouth. These objects can be covered in germs, exposing your baby to potential stomach issues and diarrhea. Even though diarrhea and consequentially, diaper rash are not considered to be normal symptoms of teething, it is believed that they appear often in this period due to your baby mouthing on anything they can find. Try to keep items in your baby’s proximity clean and disinfected, and if diarrhea persists, do not hesitate to visit your physician.