Teething is a natural process that takes place in children. When teething in babies happen, it’s often a very difficult phase for both the baby and the parent to go through – teething can be quite painful and babies often express their pain through crying and screaming, which in turn becomes difficult for the parent to deal with.
Parents often confuse certain behaviour in babies as teething symptoms, such as drooling and putting a hand or fingers in the mouth. However, these are simply normal developmental milestones that actually have nothing to do with teething. These symptoms are noticed at around the age of three of four months – babies usually only start teething when they are a few more months older – sometimes even only when they’ve passed the year mark.
Symptoms to Look Out For
There are certain symptoms parents should look out for when their baby reaches the age of 6 to 7 months to identify teething. These symptoms include:
- Swollen gums
- Constant moaning and crying
- A decreased appetite for solid foods
- Ear rubbing
Teething actually starts while a baby is still in the womb – tooth buds are formed within the gums – teeth usually then break out one by one over a couple of months after birth. These symptoms start about four days before teething starts and usually end three days after teething has stopped. Parents often believe teething will last months, which is not true – teething and the symptoms thereof take place tooth per tooth, unless, of course, a baby’s teeth come out one straight after another.
Once the above-mentioned symptoms have been identified in a baby, the parent can expect teeth to come out one by one. Although every baby’s teething process is different, the most common order of breakthrough is the following: First the bottom two middle teeth followed by the top two middle teeth. Then, the teeth next to the middle teeth start appearing, popping up one after another straight through to the back. Even though teeth may not come out completely straight, the parent shouldn’t worry as they usually straighten over time.
The teeth right at the back of the mouth, top and bottom, are the last ones to appear and usually appear around the age of 2. When a child has reached three years of age, they ought to have a full set of 20 baby teeth. The baby teeth will only start falling out when permanent teeth are ready to appear, at around age 6.
Treatments for Teething: What to do to ease a Child’s Discomfort
One of the things parents need to do before even considering treating their child for teething is to make sure that what they are experiencing is actually teething and not something completely different. Here are some tips on helping a child through the teething process:
- Parents should give children that are teething things to chew on, such as rubber teething rings and toys or wet cloths.
- Teething biscuits are great for easing pain and soothing the gums.
- Parents should try massaging a teething child’s gums – it will sooth the gums and ease the pain – Pain relievers can also be given, but it’s best to consult a paediatrician before making a medical decision. Normal behaviour might sometimes be confused with teething symptoms. Therefore, it is necessary to consult a professional before making such a decision, as parents might be giving their child medicine that is not actually needed.
- Teething gels can also be used but again, a professional should be consulted before making a decision.
Parents may often confuse other illnesses such as ear and viral infections or sleeping problems as signs of teething. If a parent chooses to use any medication, they should consult a paediatrician first to make sure the issue really is teething.
Teething is a natural process that can’t be avoided. Some children’s teething stages are easier because they handle pain better or there is just no pain. Other children are extremely uncomfortable and suffer tremendously – and so does the parent. Some consolation may be taken that teething is only a phase and will be passed sooner than you think!