The experience of teething is different for every baby and every family. A good way to get through teething together is to try to normalise the process as a part of day to day life until the last tooth appears, which is why it pays to be prepared.
What is teething?
Teething occurs when your baby’s teeth start to push through the gums. Babies are born with all 20 primary teeth hidden beneath their gums and have to go through the uncomfortable experience of teething as they transition to solids. Although it’s never nice for a parent to watch their baby in discomfort, teething is a necessary and natural stage in their development.
When does teething start?
Your baby's first teeth usually start to break through around 6 months. Keep in mind that teeth can appear as late as 12 months, as early as 3 months and sometimes even at birth.
The symptoms of teething, however, can appear up to 3 months before the first teeth show.
What are the symptoms of teething?
Your baby will want to return the pressure on their gums by biting and chewing whatever they can get their little hands on. This includes your own hands, toys, table corners and, unfortunately for breastfeeding mothers, nipples.
The process of teething stimulates the production of excess saliva (even more than usual).
All that excess drool and constant action around the mouth can cause a red rash around the lips and chin. This isn’t cause to be alarmed – just a result of excess moisture.
This isn’t as dramatic as it sounds. Your baby might be in too much pain to want to drink or eat food, but usually the fasting is only temporary.
Without really knowing why they are in pain, it is understandable for a baby to want to let you know that they are.
The ongoing pain can cause disruptions to their sleep patterns (which, of course, means disruptions to yours).
Ear tugging/cheek rubbing
It may seem odd when you see this, but these areas share nerve pathways meaning pain, and relief, can be found when rubbing one or the other.