Baby Teething: Signs, Timeline, & Soothing Tips

March 17, 2024
The image is a collage of four photographs with a warm and soft ambiance, likely from a baby's nursery. In the upper left, there's a whimsical line drawing of a tooth on the wall, suggesting the theme might be related to teething. The top right photo features a baby sleeping peacefully in a crib, with natural light filtering through, highlighting the tranquility of the scene. The bottom left image mirrors the top left with the tooth drawing, but this time the sleeping baby is also included, providing a serene and intimate look into the crib. Lastly, the bottom right picture showcases a bouquet of vibrant orange poppies in a clear glass vase, positioned on a wooden table next to a small, framed picture and in front of a window, adding a pop of color and life to the nursery. The overlapping of the photos creates a dynamic and modern collage effect.

Teething is a significant milestone in a baby's first year, marking the emergence of the first tiny teeth through the gums. This natural process can be a period of discomfort for babies and a time of concern for parents. Understanding the signs and symptoms of teething, the eruption timeline for teeth, and effective ways to soothe your baby's discomfort is crucial. Equally important is knowing which medications and items to avoid to ensure your baby's safety during this phase.

Signs and Symptoms of Teething

Teething symptoms can vary from one baby to another, but there are common signs that indicate your baby might be teething:

  • Drooling: You might notice your baby drooling more than usual. This can start as early as 2 months before the first tooth appears.
  • Chewing on Objects: Babies might try to soothe their sore gums by biting on toys, fingers, or anything they can get their hands on.
  • Gum Swelling and Sensitivity: The gums may appear redder and feel tender just before a tooth comes through.
  • Irritability or Fussiness: The discomfort of teething can make your baby more irritable or fussy.
  • Trouble Sleeping: The pain might disrupt their sleep patterns, leading to more wakeful periods at night.
  • Rejecting Food: Babies might refuse food because their sore gums make eating uncomfortable.

Eruption Timeline of Teeth

The timing of tooth eruption varies, but most babies start teething around six months. Here's a general timeline as outlined by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry:

  • 5 to 8 months: The two bottom front teeth (lower central incisors) are usually the first to appear.
  • 6 to 12 months: The four upper front teeth (central and lateral incisors) emerge.
  • 7 to 10 months: The two lower lateral incisors (next to the bottom front teeth) appear.
  • 11 to 18 months: The first molars come in, providing a surface for grinding food.
  • 16 to 20 months: The canine teeth (between the incisors and first molars) emerge.
  • 20 to 30 months: The second molars appear at the back of the mouth.

By age 3, most children have a full set of 20 primary teeth.

Soothing Your Baby's Discomfort

Here are some effective ways to alleviate teething discomfort:

  • Chew Toys: Offer safe, non-toxic teething toys. The pressure from chewing can ease your baby's discomfort.
  • Cold Items: Chilled (not frozen) teething rings or a clean, wet cloth can provide soothing relief. Avoid items that are too hard or too cold, as they can cause more harm than good.
  • Gentle Pressure: Gently rubbing your baby's gums with a clean finger can provide temporary relief.
  • Pain Relief: If your baby is especially irritable, consult your pediatrician about giving a dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen (for babies older than 6 months).

What to Avoid

Some items and medications are not recommended for teething babies due to potential risks:

  • Aspirin and Aspirin-Containing Products: Never give aspirin to a child due to the risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare but serious condition.
  • Benzocaine Products: The FDA warns against using topical medications that contain benzocaine for children younger than two years. These can lead to methemoglobinemia, a serious condition.
  • Homeopathic Teething Tablets: Some of these products have been found to contain harmful substances, including belladonna, which can be dangerous for babies.
  • Amber Teething Necklaces: These pose a choking hazard, and no scientific evidence supports their effectiveness.

Here is a short video that covers real teething symptoms, dispels myths, and provides remedies:

Teething can be tough, but there are ways to make it easier for your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics Blog has some useful tips that I recommend checking out. I'm here to support you and your pediatrician by addressing any dental or teething issues. If you're not sure how to help with your baby's teething pain, or if they seem really uncomfortable or unwell, please get in touch. Myself and the team at Poppy are here to help you.

Take care,


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