Why Does Life Suck When My Baby is Teething?

Have a teething baby at home?  If so, I’m sure life hasn’t exactly been carefree lately, but, trust me, you will get through it.  

It might help to have a better understanding of what your child is experiencing when teething.  Knowing when teeth begin cutting through the gums, and why your baby is showing different symptoms, can give you a better idea of what to expect.

Every child develops at a slightly different pace, which is why you will see that there is a range of ages for the timeline provided below.  It is important that every child is provided with items that are safe to mouth.  These items should be things that your child can safely bite down on in order to help his/her teeth cut through the gums and to promote oral-motor development.

Children have a total of 20 teeth in their mouths.  This includes the central incisors, lateral incisors, cuspids, first molars, and second molars.

Follow the timeline below to get an estimation of when your child should be getting new teeth.  In each stage the bottom teeth typically come in before the top teeth begin to show.  You should notice that the bottom teeth begin to come in earlier within the age range shown and that the top teeth follow suit closer to the end of the time frame.

  • 5 to 10 months

First to appear will most likely be your baby’s front teeth, or central incisors. The lateral incisors, located next to the front teeth, should begin to cut through the gums next.  

  • 9 to 16 months

Your baby’s first molars should cut through the gums.  

  • 16 to 20 months

The canine teeth, or cuspids, will begin to erupt.

  • 20-30 months

The second molars come in towards the back of your baby’s mouth.

Now, let’s talk about what symptoms you may observe as your child is teething.  Below is a list of indicators that may appear during teething:

  • Irritability

It can be common for babies to be fussy when their teeth are coming in as they often experience some discomfort when the teeth are cutting through the gums. 

  • Drooling

You will notice that your child drools more frequently when cutting new teeth.  This is because the body naturally produces an increased amount of saliva when teeth are erupting within the mouth.  

  • Rash around the mouth and face

The increase in saliva and drooling may temporarily irritate your baby’s skin around his/her mouth.

  • Biting/chewing on objects

Babies chew on objects in order to relieve the pressure that they are feeling on their gums; this chewing also helps teeth to cut through.

  • Low-grade fever

Babies may exhibit a slight increase in their body temperature when teething.  This may also cause your baby’s face to appear a bit flushed.

  • Difficulty sleeping

Due to discomfort from teething, your child may have difficulty sleeping.

  • Tugging on ears

Babies feel the soreness and swelling from their gums and may pull at their ears in an attempt to relieve the pain.

  • Decreased appetite

Some babies eat a reduced amount when teething due to experiencing tenderness of their gums.

So, what can you do to help relieve your baby’s discomfort and to save your sanity during teething?  Although it may be tempting, I would definitely discourage rubbing brandy or whiskey on your baby’s gums.  They’ll probably be trying to sneak that stuff at some point in their teen years and that will be early enough!  Here’s a list of strategies that are perfectly safe to use when your child is teething:

  • Give them something to chew.

Look for teethers that are both age appropriate and are thin in shape to extend along the gums, so that your child is able to work the teether where needed.   I prefer teethers from Ark Therapeutics or Debra Beckman, MS, CCC, SLP.

  • Provide something that is cold.

This will help to soothe your child’s gums.  Use chilled food items that you can safely give to your child, a chilled cloth, or a teether specifically designed to be chilled in the refrigerator.

  • Massage your baby’s gums.

When massaging your baby’s gums, it is best to use a small circular motion to help relieve soreness.  Be sure to thoroughly clean your hands with a fragrance-free soap prior to putting your fingers into your baby’s mouth.

  • Comfort your baby.

You can help your baby to feel relief from pain by talking to your baby in a soothing voice and providing movement that your baby prefers.  This could include bouncing your baby, rocking them, or pushing them in a stroller.

  • Consider Medications.

If considering medication it is best to talk with your doctor before giving medications to your baby.  

Hopefully this has provided some insight about your baby’s teething process.  For additional information contact me at [email protected]

Written By:

Renee Siddell, MS, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist / Feeding Specialist

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