One of the most challenging phases of parenting young children is going through the teething stage. Just when you are so glad that your adorable little one starts sleeping through the night, here suddenly comes the teething scourge haunting the parents once again with crankiness, sleepless nights, and even mild illnesses to boot.
What is even worse is that it can even extend to up to more than two years until all molars have erupted.
Wondering if that crankiness is related to teething? Here are some answers to the proverbial question — “How do I know if my baby is teething?”
Here are some of the signs to watch out for:
- He is constantly drooling. Has your little bubba all of a sudden transformed into a drool machine? Then he may be teething already.
- He chews on anything he can hold on to. If your little one is suddenly munching on his fingers, biting the corners of his cloth book, or chewing on his rattle then he may already be entering the teething stage. Start bringing out his teething toys and give him frozen washcloths to teeth on for comfort. Biting your hand or your nipple can also be a sign. These can all be attributed to the fact that the gums of a teething baby is extra itchy during this phase because of the teeth that are going to erupt.
- He is suddenly cranky and very irritable. He has had enough milk in fact he has burped. He has slept well or he just took a nap. You just changed his diapers. What else could be wrong? The crankiness can be attributed to teething. Erupting teeth is definitely uncomfortable so have more patience in dealing with your little one at this point and offer remedies that can help ease the pain of teething.
- Swollen gums. Swollen and reddish gums can be a sign that a tooth or two will soon come out. At this point you may want to decide whether you will stick with home remedies, natural treatment, or over the counter medicines that can help deal with the symptoms.
- White spots on the gums. If you already suspect that your baby is teething then check out his gums and try to see if there are white spots on it. These spots are the teeth that are about to emerge.
- Rashes in the neck and around the mouth. Commonly called teething rash, all that drooling will soon irritate the skin surrounding or near the mouth. Always wipe the drool with a soft cloth to avoid chapping. The lower part of the face and the neck are the most common areas where drool-related rashes will grow. These rashes will go away on its own. It however can dry up and go away easily when washed with mild soap and water at least twice daily.
- Loss of appetite. This is of course not a blanket symptom but a teething baby can lose appetite at the peak of teething because of the pain he is suffering. Nursing or drinking milk from a bottle is not only easier, it can also help ease the discomfort. Some babies though refuse to feed entirely whether through breastmilk, formula or solid food out of plain discomfort.
- Mild fever. Again, this is not a blanket symptom but some babies run a mild fever or become feverish when teething especially when molars are about to erupt. Fever associated with teething though is usually below 101 degrees Fahrenheit, so anything higher than that should be brought to the attention of the baby’s pediatrician, to rule out other conditions.
- Loose bowel movement. Is another blanket symptom which should be treated as soon as possible regardless if it is related to the baby’s teething or not. Acting on this immediately will prevent dehydration. Loose bowel movements sometimes happens to teething babies because of all the excess saliva they produce and swallow in view of their teething discomfort.
- Diaper rash. All the extra pooping can cause sensitivity in the bum area hence the redness, sensitivity, and sometimes even the growth of rashes. Treat with your home nappy cream immediately to give relief, and air the bum area longer in between nappy changes.
- Age. There is no set age when the first tooth will appear. Average age though is six months onwards. But you will be surprised, some babies exhibit teething symptoms as early as four months in fact some babies are born with a tooth. Having said that some babies do not grow their first pearly white until ten months or even later. But if the baby is about six months and exhibiting other signs of teething then it really might be it.
- Coughing. Your baby may cough from time to time because of all the excess saliva in their drool that could be flowing to their throat. Make sure all the coughing and gagging are not viral by watching out for signs of phlegm.
When a baby is teething, parents should help them deal with the pain. Some home remedies that can help include providing teethers, or other teething toys, chewing necklaces, frozen washcloths, frozen fruits in mesh cloths and ice cold water. But if some of the symptoms continue to persist then it is best to consult your baby’s pediatrician.