Your baby is teething when his or her first set of teeth, called primary teeth, break through the gums. This usually begins around the fourth to twelfth month, starting with one of the front bottom teeth. The upper front teeth usually follow. The remaining teeth (20 total) will slowly come in until the child is about two and a half years old.
Baby teeth help maintain the space for permanent teeth and allow a toddler to:
- eat a nutritious diet
- speak properly and
- have a healthy smile.
- Restlessness or difficulty sleeping
- Increased saliva and drooling
- Desire to chew on anything within reach
- Swollen, tender gums
- Simple distractions such as cuddling, rocking, or amusing the baby.
- Rub baby’s gums. Use a clean finger to massage or rub baby’s irritated gums for two-minute intervals.
- Offer a teething aid, such as a cool wet washcloth, teething ring, or an infant toothbrush to gnaw on.
- Keep it cool. If your baby is already eating solid foods, it may enjoy cold items such as applesauce, pureed fruit, or yogurt.
- Dry the drool. A bib will keep your baby’s face dry and prevent rashes. Keep a clean, dry cloth on hand also for wiping drool.
- Over-the-counter remedies. If your child is over 6 months, you may try an infant acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin). Do not give a baby anything that contains aspirin, and be careful about teething gels that can be rubbed directly on a baby’s gums. Do follow the directions on the package and consult your pharmacist with any assistance.