Updated: Feb 2, 2021
Teething is the pits! If you ask me, it mostly stinks because of the unknown... Is my baby not sleeping through the night because she is teething? Is she actually teething right now? Is that why she is fussy this week?
The first teething experience I had as a mom was miserable. My son refused to nurse or eat at all the day his first tooth came through. As luck would go, it happened to be Easter Sunday, so I spent all day at a family gathering bent out of shape because my baby literally hadn't eaten all day, and frustrated that I was missing out on family time while I was tucked away pumping in a room upstairs. Thankfully, the rest of his teeth were not quite so dramatic.
As you all know, I am a research junkie. I use research to help guide my own parenting decisions and all of the recommendations I make to you. And because teething is one of the most common topics my clients ask questions or have concerns about, I just had to dig in to find out what symptoms babies and toddlers actually experience with teething, what works to help soothe these symptoms, and what doesn't.
What I found was surprising (to me, at least!).
Some teething babies experience more dramatic symptoms (like how my soon wouldn't eat for an entire day) while other babies experience NONE.
That the same baby can have a different experience with every tooth (like my son, who wouldn't eat at all the day his first tooth came in, but really had no problems with any teeth thereafter).
Even more exciting, only a small number of babies have their sleep disrupted because of teething. Yay!.
But maybe the best news of all, is that by about 15 months, most babies handle their new teeth like champs and have very few or no symptoms at all thereafter. There is an end in sight!
Check out the stats...
Most babies (86%) have some discomfort on their gums while they are teething
A decent amount of them (68%) have irritability
More than half (55%) will drool
A smaller group (35%) have a loss of appetite
Some (30%) have a mild fever – usually if multiple teeth are coming through at the same time
Only 30% of babies have a disruption in their sleep related to teething.
Most of these symptoms occur when the back teeth are erupting vs front teeth
Is Your Baby Actually Teething?
First things first, how do you even know if your baby is teething?
Look in your munchkins mouth. If you notice redness and swelling of the gums and a white blistery area on the gum, a tooth is about to erupt through. If you can see or feel any sharp part of the tooth, the tooth has already erupted through. Typically symptoms of teething will last 0-4 days... starting as early as 1-2 days before the tooth erupts (when you will see the white blistery area), lasting up to to 2-3 days after the tooth has erupted through.
If you have one of those kids who isn't bothered by teething, lucky you! But if you didn't win the teething-child lottery, you don't have to suffer through without help. After hours digging through the research on teething, and looking for a fancy, scientifically proven, magical way to ease your baby’s teething troubles, I was kind of bummed when I found that the tried and true methods are what really work (chewing, rubbing, freezing, medicating).
As with most things, try non-medicinal methods first... but know you have the option to medicate as needed.
Give your kiddo something to chew on (teething ring/toys, frozen burp cloth).
Chewing alone can be soothing for your kiddo.
FROZEN OR COLD TOYS have the added benefit of numbing your kiddos gums which can help with any discomfort he is having.
Rub a clean finger on your kiddos gum surface.
The pressure can be soothing... just like rubbing a boo boo anywhere else!
PSA - Beware of any sharp chompers... they hurt!
TYLENOL/MOTRIN – You can use Tylenol or Motrin as needed if your kiddo seems to be having a really hard time with the teething... or if he’s having a hard time during the day and you are anticipating a rough night.
Of course, check with your child's pediatrician before medicating to ensure these medications are safe for your child