Teething: Symptoms and Remedies

The first tooth is a big event in your baby’s young life, but it can be uncomfortable. The more you know about teething, the better you can help your baby get through it.

Signs of Teething

Most babies begin to teethe between 4 and 7 months old. But some start much later.

The symptoms aren’t the same for every baby, but they may include:

  • Swollen, tender gums
  • Fussiness and crying
  • A slightly raised temperature (less than 101 F)
  • Gnawing or wanting to chew on hard things
  • Lots of drool
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns

Teething can be painful, but it doesn’t usually make babies sick. Call your doctor if your baby has diarrhea, vomiting, rashes on the body, a higher fever, or cough and congestion. These aren’t normal signs of teething.

Soothe a Teething Baby

What works to soothe a friend’s baby might not work for yours. You may need to try different things to help your little one feel better.

Often, something cold in your baby’s mouth helps. Try a cold pacifier, spoon, clean wet washcloth, or a solid (not liquid) refrigerated teething toy or ring. Some experts say frozen teething toys are too cold and may hurt your baby’s mouth. Make sure to clean teething toys, washcloths, and other items after the baby uses them.

Babies, especially those who are teething, love to chew. It’s OK to let your baby chew as much as she wants. Just make sure you know what he’s putting in his mouth and that it’s safe and clean.

A hard, unsweetened teething cracker can be comforting. If your baby is older than 6-9 months, you can offer cool water from a sippy cup, too.

You can also massage his gums by gently rubbing them with your clean finger. If the teeth haven’t come in yet, you can let your baby gnaw on your finger.

If you’re nursing your baby, try dipping your fingers in cool water and massaging his gums before each feeding. That may keep him from biting your nipple while nursing.

Continued

Teething Necklaces

Child health experts don’t recommend teething necklaces. They’re dangerous: They pose a strangulation risk, and a baby can choke if the necklace breaks and she swallows the beads.

If you do choose to use one, make sure to:

  • Put it on a wrist or ankle, not around his neck.
  • Always watch your baby when he is wearing it.
  • Take it away when you aren’t watching your baby, even for a very short time.

You may have heard that amber teething necklaces release a pain reliever when heated. That’s not proven, and doctors say using one is not a good idea.

Teething Medicine

Medicine that you rub on your baby’s gums to stop the pain of teething may not help. It quickly washes away in the mouth.

Stay away from over-the-counter teething gels and liquids that have the ingredient benzocaine. The FDA says this ingredient shouldn’t be given to children under 2. It can cause rare but serious side effects.

A small dose of a children’s pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), may help your baby. But ask your doctor before giving her any medication, and use it exactly as the doctor says.

It may be a rough few days, but you’ll both feel better when that tooth finally comes through.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on April 18, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Teething: 4 to 7 Months,” “Teething Pain," “Children’s Oral Health," “Amber Teething Necklaces: A Caution for Parents."

American Dental Association/Mouth Healthy: “Teething.”

Massignan, C. Pediatrics, published online March 2016.

FDA: “FDA Drug Safety Communication: Reports of a rare, but serious and potentially fatal adverse effect with the use of OTC benzocaine gels and liquids applied to the gums or mouth.”

© 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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