If your baby is between four and seven months old, you might as well start looking for teething symptoms.
Indeed, this is when most babies sprout their first tooth, a remarkable baby milestone often accompanied by many side effects. But how can you tell if those are signs of teething or an indication of something else?
Having talked previously about baby teething, we at CaptainMums now want to focus on the symptoms of teething. Keep reading to know how to recognise them and how to give your munchkin some relief, in case he's in pain.
Different babies, different bodies
When do babies start teething? Though there's an estimated time -as said already, from the 4th to the 7th month- for that to happen, teeth can certainly bloom at anytime between birth -neonatal teeth- to the baby's 12th month of life. Remember that every human being has his own pace of development, and teething is a part of it. Don't be anxious, because sooner or later you will see the first teething symptoms and your little one will break his first incisors.
Which are the teething symptoms?
Keeping this 'tempo' in mind, it's good to know what to expect and which teething symptoms to look for. There are many of them, but that doesn't necessarily mean that your child will show any. Yet again, each individual experiences teething in a different way.
However, among symptoms of teething, these are the most common ones:
- Drooling: there are different theories about it being related to teething or not. Some experts defend the idea of excessive drooling being a parallel process in the baby's development caused, mainly, by the weak swallowing reflex, common in his early days. Others link it to cutting the first teeth, since the baby explores the bulges in his mouth by using his tongue and his fingers. Suckling them may stimulate the production of more saliva.
- Teething rash: precisely, it is drooling that leads to teething rash, one of the classical teething symptoms. That much fluid coming out of the baby's mouth ends up chafing and chapping the skin around it, sometimes including his neck.
- Fussiness: some babies have to deal with pain while their little teeth poke up to break their gums. And that generally hurts! Then, it's pretty understandable that they are cranky during the days, often weeks, that it takes for their teeth to show up.
- Coughing: back to that 'never-ending' drool, this is responsible for another teething side effect. Having so much spit in his mouth can easily make him cough and even gag, but that's normal. Just make sure that his cough isn't caused by illnesses, such as a baby cold or the flu.
- Gumming: In order to relieve their pain, babies make some attempts to counter-pressure their growing teeth by gumming and biting everything at hand. If you are breastfeeding him, your nipples may become an easy 'target' that he won't pass up, so be careful!
- Crying: the best resource a baby has to let you know that something is wrong is, surprise, crying and whining. The gum swelling, especially that which is caused by the first tooth coming out, can be pretty painful for your little one. He will complain about it until you find a way to soothe him or he gets used to it, which will happen later on.
- Refusing food: no, your baby doesn't like going on hunger strikes! But the inflammation of tender gum tissues, one of the other teething symptoms, is often such that he will refuse eating, either milk or solids or both. In fact, the lack of appetite will make him feel more frustrated at the same time.
- Waking up at night: so much discomfort can definitely interrupt your baby's sleep... and yours! Avoid feeding him to settle him back to sleep, because you'll create a bad habit that you won't easily be able to change.
- Pulling ears: when he starts growing his first molars, don't be surprised if you catch your baby pulling his ears or rubbing his cheeks. The nerves in the area are very well connected, which results in travelling pain that may irritate him.
Fever is often listed as one of the teething symptoms, but it is important to put this into context. Doctors haven't come to an agreement about that statement. Researchers suggest that babies who are growing their first teeth may have a low-grade fever, around 36.98º, the day before and after breaking them. Despite this, it could simply be related to the inflammation of their gums. A recent study has found that teething doesn't cause a fever.
How to soothe a baby with teething symptoms
If you detect that your baby is having teething symptoms, you have different ways to soothe him. Of course, that will depend on the kind of problem that he's going through, so you need to act accordingly.
These are some of the tricks you can use to relieve signs of teething:
- Give him something cold to chew on, like a washcloth
- Wipe out the drool around his face and moisturize with some skin cream to avoid teething rash
- Rub a clean finger over your baby's gums, but do it softly!
- Feed him cold foods, if he already eats solids, and cold drinks
Here you can find some more information on how to relieve teething pain.
If you have trouble dealing with your little one's teething symptoms, don't hesitate to take him to the paediatrician. He'll decide on the best treatment, which can include pain relievers in severe cases. Anyway, don't forget that getting nervous and losing your temper will help neither you nor your baby. Showing him your love, with lots of snuggles and kisses, has to be a daily 'medicine' for him in such painful process. Before you know it, he'll be showing off his new and shiny teeth, which no longer will cause him trouble.