Teething

kathyfray2

Did you know some babies are born with teeth? My great-uncle was born with two! On the other hand, some infants don’t get their first teeth until after their first birthday. Babies vary tremendously as to when, and in what order, the little ‘pearls’ arrive in their mouth. But as a big generalisation:

Estimated arrival time of baby teeth

  • Bottom two front incisors [biting teeth] by 6 months
  • Top two front incisors by 7 months
  • Two more incisors, top and bottom, by 8 – 12 months
  • Four back molars [grinding teeth] at 10 – 14 months
  • Four canines [pointed teeth] at 16 – 20 months
  • Four more back molars at 24 – 30 months
  • A total of twenty baby teeth!

The term ‘Teething’ does not just mean when a tooth is cutting through the gum, but also means when the teeth are moving towards the gums.

If your baby is not co-operating to let you have a good look inside its mouth, you can always do the ‘clink test’: gently tap a teaspoon on their gums to hear if there is a new pearly white.

Signs & Symptoms of teething

  • Crying, irritable, grizzly, cranky, clingy, fretful, sooky
  • Mild fever (say 37.5C – 37.9C)
  • Trouble sleeping, waking up crying
  • Very ‘mouthy’ – desperate to chew and gnaw on things
  • Lots of chewing on fingers in their mouth
  • Producing more saliva and dribbling more than usual (which can cause a rash on the chin, or chafing from continual dummy use)
  • One or both cheeks bright red, occasional spot on face
  • Stools looser or runnier than usual (not diarrhoea)
  • Nappy rash
  • Rejecting milk or meals
  • Gums tender and swollen (where a tooth is about to cut through)
  • Tugging their ears (but teething does not cause ear infections)

Possible treatment or remedies for teething

  • Chilled teething rings
  • Amber teething necklaces
  • Infant paracetamol for the pain (especially for sleeping)
  • A barley drink can help neutralise the acidity of a baby’s saliva
  • Homeopathic Chamomilla
  • Other homeopathic remedies such as Weleda™’s Baby Teething Powder and Naturo Pharm™’s Teethmed Relief
  • Chemists sell teething gels to rub on the gums (eg Bonjela™) – especially useful before bedtime
  • Teething toys for your little babe to relish slobbering all over
  • Eliminate starchy foods from their diet.
  • Homeopathic aconite is very effective counteracting the one-red-cheek scenario
  • Great teething food ideas include:
    • frozen bananas (peal and wrap in cling-film to freeze),
    • dried bananas (buy at health shops),
    • pieces of peeled apple wrapped in gauze-cloth to gnaw on,
    • cold celery sticks,
    • freezing the wet corner of a flannel to chew on.
    • But always be very careful to avoid baby choking on small pieces of food.)
Kathy Fray

Kathy is a wife; mother of three; north Auckland self-employed midwife; weekly Parenting columnist; founding director of BabyOK™ Products (producers of the renowned Babe-Sleeper); and author of NZ’s No.1 guide for new mums “OH BABY…Birth, Babies & Motherhood Uncensored” and the sequel “OH GROW UP…Toddlers to PreTeens Decoded”. You can find out more about Kathy on her website.

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