Teething can start in babies as young as three months and some babies already have a couple of teeth in situ when they are born.
Most babies, however, start teething around six months.
Middle bottom teeth are normally the first to appear, followed by middle top teeth, then the top and bottom incisors at either side. They don’t always appear one by one – you may find two or three appearing at once. By the time your child is 2 and a half, he or she should have the full set of 20.
Spot the signs of teething
Life can be understandably uncomfortable for your baby when teeth are forcing their way through gums. Common teething symptoms include swollen gums, general fussiness, hot flushed cheeks, nappy rash, excessive dribbling, disturbed sleep, reduced appetitie and an urge to chew on everything.
Soothing sore gums
Chilled teething rings are perfect for easing the pain of sore gums. Don’t freeze them though – they could be too hard and bruise your baby’s tender gums.
Low-sugar biscuits, chilled raw carrots or sliced pitta bread are great for a good old gnaw once your baby is past the age of six months. Make sure baby is supervised as there’s a risk of choking if he breaks off a bit chunk of food.
If your baby is a super-dribbler, prevent soreness by wiping his chin often. You can also rub in a little Vaseline for extra protection. Keep a fresh supply of bibs on hand to prevent his clothes from getting too damp as this can lead to sore patches on your baby’s chest too.
Massaging in a small amount of infant teething gel such as Bonjela or Calgel, using a clean finger, can ease the discomfort of painful gums. These contain a mild local anaesthetic to take the edge off the pain.
Childhood paracetamol such as Calpol is a good standby if your baby appears to be really suffering. Some mums swear by homeopathic teething granules to ease teething pains.
Start cleaning your baby’s teeth as soon as the first one appears. Choose the softest toothbrush you can find and use an age-appropriate toothpaste. Starting your baby off with mint flavoured toothpaste from the earliest days could help avoid problems with the switch from child-friendly flavours to grown-up ones later on.
Once teeth appear, it is also important to make sure they are cleaned after the last feed of the day and before your child goes to sleep. Milk has a high sugar content and can cause decay.