Teething; Symptoms, how to help and how sleep is impacted.

If you have a baby or young child then teething is almost certainly something you’ve Googled, talked about and pondered over. We’ve got answers to common teething questions for you:

  • When do babies start teething?
  • What are common signs and symptoms of teething?
  • What order do baby teeth appear?
  • Tips for helping teething babies.
  • Teething and sleep.

When do babies start teething?

Babies develop at their own rate and won’t all hit the same milestones at the same time. This is also true of teething. Some babies start to teeth very early and others may not get their first tooth until after their first birthday. However, the majority will get start to teeth at around 6 months of age.

What are the commons sign and symptoms of teething?

There is no doubt that teething can lead to some discomfort and leave babies feeling unsettled. Some babies certainly are affected more than others and can be very uncomfortable when a new tooth arrives.

Sometimes baby teeth emerge with no disturbance at all. However, sometimes you might notice some of the following symptoms.

  • The gum is sore & red where the tooth is breaking through.
  • One or both cheeks are flushed.
  • Rubbing their ear or cheek.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Teething rash around their mouth.
  • Chewing, gnawing & biting things (although this can be totally normal too!).
  • Irritability or fretful.
  • Changes in appetite, they may want to feed more often or eat less solid food than normal.

Some families say they notice diarrhoea or a raised temperature alongside other teething symptoms, though the NHS advises that there isn’t evidence to support this. If your baby or toddler has any symptoms that seem unusual to them or give cause for concern then always consult with your doctor to ensure that symptoms aren’t related to something else.

It can feel like teething goes on for a long time but it can be that a few teeth arrive in close succession or they are showing signs similar to teething even when a tooth isn’t breaking through. Remember, young babies tend to put things in their mouths and drool a lot, this is all very normal behaviour whether teething or not.

What order do baby teeth appear in?

The age that teeth appear can be quite wide ranging but the order they appear in tends to be predictable. We have a guide below for when different teeth tend to appear:

Tips for helping teething babies.

  • Teething toys for your little one to chew on can give them some relief as they place pressure where the tooth is coming through.
  • Pressure from a clean finger, cloth or soft toothbrush can also offer some relief.
  • A chilled (not frozen) teething ring can be soothing on baby’s gums. To avoid cavities, please don’t dip these items in sugary substances.
  • Cool drinks of water or cold foods such as yoghurt or fruit can also offer relief.
  • If baby is especially upset, consider giving them infant’s over-the-counter pain medications. Always follow the manufacturers instructions and speak with a pharmacist or doctor for any questions or concerns.
  • It is common for teething babies to want to feed more, due to the loss of fluid when drooling, and for comfort. Provide these extra feeds as needed.
  • Gently wipe away any dribble from around their face to try and avoid a teething rash forming.
  • Offer lots of cuddles & play. Distracting your baby really helps. Baby massage around the face and jaw can be good. We have a video of some techniques here.

There is a lack of evidence that teething gels are effective. We recommend trying non-medical options for teething first – teething ring, cuddles, feeds, distraction etc. If you do use a gel, make sure it’s designed for babies.⠀

Avoid homeopathic remedies available on the internet – some of these have been linked to serious side effects.

Help you little one look after their new teeth by brushing with a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for their age.

Teething and sleep.

Teething gets a bad rap with a lot of sleep disturbances being blamed on teething.

Be prepared to offer some extra comfort and support if teething is bothering them during the night. You may have extra feeds or cuddles needed if they wake and are uncomfortable, but this is usually short lived while the new tooth cuts through.

Every baby is different but as a general rule we find that teething can (but not always) disturb sleep for only around 3-7 days as a tooth cuts through. If your sleep disturbance is spanning weeks or months, it is unlikely to be the root cause. It’s also a common misconception that you can’t improve sleep if baby is teething – they will be teething for a long time to come and you can certainly make positive changes to sleep in the first months and years with your baby and toddler.

Want more support with your child’s sleep?

If you would like to learn more about sleep and have guidance on how you can approach achieving a predictable routine and well-rested night’s sleep then check out our online courses.

These are designed to teach you all about how your child sleeps and to provide practical suggestions for settling techniques and routines to work towards.

If you would prefer to speak with one of our consultants for a personalised plan you can find out more about our 1:1 packages here.

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