Lately, it seems like your sweet baby’s been swapped. Your little one’s cranky, drooling, and stuffing everything in his mouth. But how could he be teething when he’s only 3 months old? Or maybe you’re wondering if your 10-month-old is ever going to cut her first tooth. Here are your teething questions, answered.
Typical Teething Timeline
For most babies, the first pearly white or two appears somewhere around the 6-month mark, give or take. Some babies cut their first teeth at 3 months old, while others keep their gummy grins until they’re a year old, or even a month or two later.
The bottom incisors are usually the first to appear, followed by the top two incisors. The order doesn’t matter, though. The teething process takes a long time (about 2 years, start to finish). Expect your baby to cut a few more teeth every few months after the first appear.
Generally, the age when your baby cuts a first tooth comes down to genetics. It doesn’t suggest anything about your child’s intelligence or likelihood of hitting other milestones like walking early or late. If your baby doesn’t have any teeth by their first birthday, let your pediatrician know. They may want to keep an eye out in case there’s any obstruction preventing normal teething.
Soothing a Teething Baby
Waiting for a tooth to break through the surface of the gums isn’t always pleasant, for either you or your baby. Fortunately, you can make it easier with the following soothers:
- Cold: Numbing baby’s gums can provide relief. Try a washcloth dipped in icy water, a frozen teething toy, or a breast milk or puree “popsicle.” Supervise your baby closely if you use a frozen pop, in case a chunk comes off.
- Pressure: You’ve probably noticed that lately, everything goes right in that little mouth. The pressure of the tooth pushing up against the gum can be sore. Counterpressure helps. Give your baby clean teething toys to bite. Gentle massage can also be a lifesaver, especially if your little one’s too worked up to concentrate on chewing a toy. Wash your hands well, then gently rub your baby’s gums where the tooth is trying to break through. You can wrap your finger in a soft washcloth, as well. Some babies find the extra friction soothing.
- Medicine: Your pediatrician may recommend an infant dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Be careful not to exceed the recommended dosage.
- Nursing: Suckling can comfort your baby. Proper latching practices keep new teeth from hurting you.
Teething Remedies to Avoid
You may hear a variety of teething remedies from people trying to help. On a late night when it seems like no one’s going to get any sleep, any parent can be tempted to take desperate measures. Stay away from these teething “tricks,” which can actually be dangerous for your baby:
- Rubbing whiskey or brandy on your baby’s gums. Babies metabolize alcohol differently from adults. Even a tiny amount can be harmful.
- Giving your baby aspirin. This medication is associated with a rare, but dangerous, condition called Reye’s syndrome. The syndrome causes swelling in the organs, especially in the liver and brain, which can be life-threatening.
- Offering frozen bagels or bananas to babies not yet eating solids. As frozen foods thaw, they can come off in chunks and become a choking hazard.
What to Do Once Teeth Appear
You may be eager to give your baby something to chew with those new chompers. Go for it! Besides the potential nutritional benefits of trying new foods, chewing strengthens facial muscles that your baby will need to start talking. Just continue to avoid small, hard foods and other choking hazards.
It’s a good idea to practice brushing teeth early, too. You can start with something as simple as a wipe with a washcloth or cotton swab dipped in water. If your baby’s used to you cleaning her teeth from a young age, it will be easier to keep up the habit when she’s older.