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When do babies start teething?
Most babies sprout their first tooth when they're between 4 and 7 months old.
An early developer may get his first tooth as early as 3 months, while it may take a late bloomer until he's a year old or more. (In very rare cases, a baby's first tooth is already visible at birth.) Whenever your baby's first toothmakes its appearance, celebrate the milestone by taking pictures and noting the date in your child's baby book.
Teeth actually start developing while your baby is in the womb and tooth buds form in the gums. Teeth break through over a period of months, and they often appear in this order: the bottom two middle teeth first, then the top two middle ones, then those along the sides and back.
Teeth can erupt one at a time, or several can come through at once. They may not all come in straight, but don't worry – they usually straighten out over time.
The last teeth to appear (the second molars, found in the very back of the mouth on the top and bottom) usually come in around your baby's second birthday or in the months after. By age 3, your child should have a full set of 20 baby teeth, and they shouldn't start to fall out until his permanent teeth are ready to start coming in (around age 6).
What are the signs a baby is teething?
Some babies get through teething with no signs at all, but many parents report that their babies do experience discomfort. The most likely signs of teething include:
- Irritability or fussiness
- Drooling (which can cause a facial rash)
- Swollen, sensitive gums
- Gnawing or chewing behavior
- Refusing to eat
- Trouble sleeping
Is it true that teething can cause a fever, diarrhea, or a runny nose?
Some parents say their baby also gets a fever, diarrhea, or a runny nose just before a new tooth arrives, but there's no scientific proof that teething causes these symptoms. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that although a baby's body temperature may rise slightly when teething, a true fever (rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees F or higher) and diarrhea aren't normal symptoms. If your child has a fever along with other symptoms such as lack of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, or diarrhea, call her doctor to rule out anything more serious.
How can I help my teething baby feel better?
- Give your child something to chew on, like a firm rubber teething ring or a cold washcloth that you've chilled in the refrigerator (not freezer).
- Rub a clean finger gently but firmly over your baby's sore gums to ease the pain temporarily.
- If your baby is old enough for solids, he may get some relief from eating cold foods, such as applesauce or yogurt.
- If your baby is old enough to eat finger foods, it may help him to gnaw on a hard, unsweetened teething biscuit, such as zwieback. Just keep an eye on him and be mindful of choking.
Is it safe to give my baby pain medication?
If gnawing, rubbing, or other common methods to ease teething pain don't work, some doctors recommend giving a baby infants' acetaminophen or ibuprofen (for babies 6 months and older). Ask your baby's doctor for the correct dosage before giving any pain reliever to a child younger than 2.
Are any pain relievers unsafe to give my baby for teething pain?
- Aspirin: Don't give your baby aspirin (or even rub it on her gums) to ease teething pain because it can lead to Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition.
- Homeopathic teething tablets and gels: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises parents not to use these products because of reported seizures, breathing problems, and other side effects in children. Researchers at the FDA are investigating these claims, and some manufacturers have stopped distributing them in the United States, but they're still available in some stores and online.
- Benzocaine: Don't use topical gels or medications containing benzocaine. The FDA warns that the use of teething products can lead to methemoglobinemia, a rare and serious (sometimes fatal) condition in which the amount of oxygen in the blood drops dangerously low.
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