Teething time gets a bad rap.
Often, a variety of baby behaviors are blamed on teething when it just isn’t the case, and on the flip side, sometimes parents mistake teething as signs that their baby is sick.
The truth of the matter is that there are very obvious signs of teething that most parents miss! This guide will demystify baby teething for you. We hope.
At What Age Do Babies Start Teething?
Generally, babies start teething around 6 months of age, but it’s not unheard of for babies to begin to teeth anywhere from 3-12 months of age. This is something that often confuses parents; it’s possible that your little baby who’s only a few months old is showing signs of teething!
It also means that you shouldn’t be overly concerned if your baby seems to be lagging behind when it comes to getting their baby teeth. It’s likely they’re quite normal, so there’s no need to worry, mommy.
Most children will have all of their teeth in by 3 years of age on average, and they’ll probably get them all by 2 years.
What Are The Signs of Teething?
So, how do you tell when your baby is starting to get her teeth? Here are the signs of teething that you should be looking for:
1. Actually Seeing a Tooth
This should be pretty obvious, but there should be other noticeable signs before the tooth actually emerges. You should be able to identify a tooth, it will look like you’d expect, a tiny white dot that slowly emerges and gets bigger.
The above teething chart shows you exactly when to expect each of the teeth, so you can gently put a finger in the mouth and feel for signs of a tooth.
2. Drooling: Welcome to Drool City!
If you notice your baby is starting to drool… a lot… it’s a good sign that they may be teething. Teething stimulates drooling and usually starts a few weeks before the tooth emerges.
If you find that your baby is excessively drooling; their bibs and clothes are constantly wet, strap on a good drooling bib. It will keep you from having to change soggy clothing every 2 hours!
If your baby is drooling a lot, you might also notice a facial rash or redness around their lips and mouth. This is often due to the amount of drool, and and you can help alleviate this problem by wiping the drool away swiftly.
3. Chewing. And Chewing and Chewing.
Yes-sir-ee, when babies start to teeth, they love to chew on anything they can get their hands (and mouth) on. Anything wooden, or even their own fingers is fodder for the teething baby’s mouth. For a baby, the pressure of teeth emerging from their gums is relieved by the counter-pressure of biting down on something.
Invest in a few good teething toys; you can read our guide to the best teething toys here: they’re made of safe materials that give baby relief and safe their cribs, fingers and everything else from the baby chew machine.
4. Crankiness: Now THAT’S a Cranky Baby
Teething babies tend to be irritable. There’s just no way around it! Being cranky doesn’t necessarily mean they’re teething, but if it goes along with other symptoms then it’s probably what you’re facing.
Just do whatever you can to make them more comfortable; they’re going to get through it even if it’s hard right now.
5. Sore, Red Gums
If your baby’s gums seem red and irritated, this is usually a pretty good indicator that they’re teething. If you notice this, you can pretty much guarantee that teeth are soon to follow.
Unfortunately, it does mean that your baby is probably in some pain. A good teething gel is the answer here.
6. The Phantom Ear Infection
Many parents mistakenly think their baby has an ear infection when they’re teething. They’ll be pulling at their ears and causing quite a fuss, and it can definitely look like they have something wrong.
This causes many a worried mommy to rush their baby to the doctor thinking they have an ear infection, only to find out that they’re just teething.
The truth is that the gums, cheeks and ears share the same nerve pathways, and therefore the pain and pressure radiates from the gums to the ear, causing discomfort in the ear as well. Babies pull on the ear because sometimes it helps relieve the pain in their mouth.
So, before you panic and rush junior to the emergency room thinking they have an ear infection, first make sure that it’s not just signs that they’re starting to get their teeth. There’s a good chance that’s what it is!
7. Lack of Sleep: Junior is Now an Insomniac
If your formerly easy-sleeping baby is now unwilling to sleep and up all the time, they might be teething. If you find that your baby is waking up during the night for no apparent reason, now you know why this might be.
First let them try to fall back asleep on their own. If that’s not working, you can sing them lullabies and try to sooth them back to sleep.
Even a 3am bottle or nursing is worth it if it means getting them back to sleep!
8. Constant Coughing or Gagging (But Make Sure It’s Because of Teething)
There are several reasons why a baby might cough, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s because of teething. However, if your baby is coughing along with other signs, then this might be why.
The reason why babies cough while they’re teething is because of the copious amounts of drool flowing out of them. It becomes overwhelming for them and makes them cough or gag.
If your baby is coughing but their nose is dry and are showing no signs of being ill, it’s probably because of the teething and drooling.
When Coughing is More Serious
It’s possible your child is coughing because they have allergies or because they’re sick. If their sinuses are irritated and they have snot along with the gagging, it’s probably not teething.
If the mucus is clear, it could be a sign of allergies and you should talk to your doctor about it; if it’s yellowish, they probably have a cold, in which case you’ll also probably want to talk to a doctor.