Teething: A Developmental Milestone


Teething: A Developmental Milestone by Robin OBrien

Seeing the appearance of your child’s first tooth is something you, as a parent, will remember for the rest of your life. But unlike other developmental milestones, teething doesn’t happen all at once. In fact, it can be a long, drawn-out and painful process for both baby and parent.

Babies are born with all 20 of their milk teeth (deciduous teeth), you just can’t see them as they are still buried in her gums. Teeth usually start to erupt around six months of age. At around three to months of age you can probably feel the bumps under your baby’s gums. Checking your baby’s gums is usually a good idea, making sure everything is okay: you should also be checking your baby’s mouth for oral thrush. Before checking your baby’s gums, wash your hands. You don’t need to apply any creams or oils, just gently move your finger over the gums and look inside your baby’s mouth.

Spotting the symptoms of teething can be tricky. However, there are some signs to look out for that may mean that your baby is teething. A baby becoming grumpy is usually the most obvious, and no wonder. The breaking of the gum tissue can be a very painful experience. For most babies, the appearance of the first tooth is the most painful; however, the eruption of the molar teeth can be the most discomforting to a baby.

Excessive dribbling (drooling) is another sign that your baby might be teething. However recent research is now leaning towards dribbling having nothing to do with teething and is just something babies do at that age. Your child can develop a skin rash around the mouth from too much dribbling. This can be distressing for a parent but the condition is transitory and can be easily treated.

It used to be said that teething produced a fever. This is nonsense however. Teething does not cause high temperatures. If your baby does have a temperature don’t ignore it, get medical advice.

If you baby is in discomfort because of teething, you can help in a number of ways. The first thing to try is to distract your child. It sounds obvious, but this simple solution can really help most babies. You can also give your child something to chew on. You’re bound to notice that your baby wants to chew everything it comes across when it’s teething. There are many different teething rings and pacifiers on the market. Which type to buy, is a personal choice. You can buy basic, cheap plastic ones to expensive silver rings. Make sure you thoroughly wash and teething rings or pacifiers after use. You can also try giving your baby a damp cloth that has been chilled in the fridge, to chew on; just make sure the cloth is clean.

Yet another thing you can try is giving your child a piece of fruit or vegetable to chew on. Again, cool it in the fridge first. Also make sure the food item is large so that your baby can’t swallow it and choke. It is also vital that the food item does not break up into to smaller pieces to avoid the possibility of your baby choking. Test the food yourself before giving it to your baby, Carrots that have been chilled in the fridge are good.

Whether using carrots, rings or pacifiers, never, ever leave your child unsupervised. Even the firmest carrot, most expensive teething ring, can break or cause your child to choke.

Other products that can help alleviate teething pains are such things as homeopathic ointments and teething gels. These should only be given as a last resort and only after medical consultation.

Teething can be a very stressful time for both babies and parents but it is also a time of great excitement for both. The important thing to realise is that teething does take time and can sometimes be painful for your baby. But it will pass this developmental stage and your child will not remember the discomfort and you, as a parent, will soon forget. 

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