Teething involves the eruption of teeth from the gums – the actual appearance of a tooth. Your baby’s first tooth will most likely appear at around 7 months of age, although babies have been known to teeth as early as three months of age or as late as 14 months.
Many babies start to suck furiously on their hands at around three months of age, leading parents to believe that a tooth is on the way. In fact, in most cases this is the not the reason for the furious gnawing on fists. Most babies discover their hands at around 9-12 weeks and suck them to sooth themselves or simply to explore their haptic sense.
So if you can’t rely on sucking of hands as a symptom of teething, how do you know your baby is teething?
The following 7 signs indicate your baby may be teething:
- Significant drooling and mouthing of hands or objects (in combination with some of the other signs.)
- A dry rash around the mouth and/or a nappy rash, which may be quite severe.
- Acrid smelling stools that occur with increased frequency.
- Mild low grade fever – but watch for other signs of illness before fobbing a fever off to teething.
- Loss of appetite and going off food for a couple of days.
- A runny nose and ear ache
- Swollen gums and seeing or feeling a tooth just under the gums
Teething is not nuclear war. At the worst, your baby will be slightly irritable and may go off her food for a couple of days. She may also wake at night more than usual.
Some babies hardly notice they are teething and one day a little tooth erupts, with no fan fare. Other more sensitive babies are more disrupted. If your little one is really off colour, use an over the counter mild pain medication with paracetamol and offer cooled teething rings to settle the gums.