If you are a new parent, you are probably bracing yourself for when your baby starts to teethe. Beginning anywhere from three to twelve months (with an average of six months), teething is often a time marked by a degree of pain and distress for both baby and you.
Knowing what to expect can make the process easier for all involved, and allows you to better give your baby the support needed to feel at ease.

How long it lasts

A single tooth generally only causes symptoms for a few days, though for some babies they may last longer. The entire process of teething usually lasts 1-2 years. This doesn’t mean they will always be distressed, however – in most cases, babies appear to suffer more when they first start to teethe. This is because the discomfort is new to them.

Common symptoms

While the first sign parents usually notice is that their baby has become irritable, there are other common symptoms to be aware of, such as:

  • Red or swollen gums
  • Increased drooling
  • Redness on cheeks or face
  • Increased biting, sucking and chewing behaviour
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Face rubbing
  • Rejecting food

If your baby displays several of these symptoms at once, it is probably due to teething – though you may want to seek medical advice if you are concerned it could be due to something else. Additionally, your baby’s distress may appear to be worse late at night due to their being few distractions. They may even wake up throughout the night.

Best remedies for teething discomfort

There are a vast number of different teething products and home remedies you can try. These help to ease aches, pains and swollen gums.

Teething toys

Plastic, rubber or soft plush toys are all safe for babies to chew on, and they may help to soothe sore gums. Amber teething necklaces, however, are not recommended – they may pose a choking and/or strangulation hazard.

Massage

Using clean hands to massage your baby’s gums can help to temporarily alleviate some of the pain and discomfort.

Cold cloth

Giving your baby a cold, damp washcloth (which has previously placed in the freezer or fridge) to chew on can help to ease the swelling and pain.

Medicine

If the aforementioned remedies haven’t worked, ask a paediatrician, pharmacist or dentist for advice on a safe medicine for your child.

Breastfeeding a teething baby

Whether or not to breastfeed your baby while they are teething depends on you and your child. Some babies enjoy nursing more whilst teething, as it can give them comfort, however for other babies it can increase the pain. They may also bite more whilst teething. Gum massages can help ease baby’s pain and reduce how often they bite.

Summary

You should begin brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as they grow in. Ensure that your child has their first check-up with your dentist by age two; your dentist can give you advice on nutrition and brushing techniques.