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Teething 101: Is my baby teething?

A baby chewing his finger with a concerned expression
It is completely normal for the growth and eruption of baby teeth to cause some discomfort.

Experiencing your child’s firsts can be magical. The first smile. The first word. The first step. However, not all firsts are as much fun – the first tooth (and second, and third…) can be a tough time for parents and bubs alike.

Parents often have a lot of questions surrounding baby teething, from queries about what the warning signs are to home remedies, and everything in between. The most frequently asked question is typically, “is this normal?” Here’s a guide to what to expect when your baby is teething.

Is my baby teething?

In babies, tooth eruption, which occurs when the tooth breaks through the gum, is called teething.

Your child’s baby teeth will appear any time from birth to 27 months. There is no “normal” when it comes to the timing of baby teeth. All children are different. The order teeth appear is more important than the time they appear.

A general guide to when baby teeth should appear can be seen in the diagram below.

Front teeth should appear at around 9 months. Moving backwards from the front teeth, new teeth should appear at 10 months (eye teeth), 18 months (next to eye teeth) 15 months (second back teeth), and 27 months (molars - back teeth).

Signs and symptoms of teething to look out for include:

  • Red swollen gums
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Flushed cheeks or fever
  • Dribbling
  • Finger or fist sucking.

Teething usually takes about eight days, which includes four days prior and three days after the tooth comes through the gum. If you see a blue-grey bubble on the gum where the tooth is about to appear, do not panic. This is an eruption cyst, which will usually disappear without treatment.

Remedies: What can you do to help your child?

It is normal for your baby or toddler to experience some pain and irritability during teething. Often teething symptoms can be managed without medication. Here are some strategies to try.

Massage – gently rubbing your child’s gums with clean fingers is the easiest way to ease teething pain.

Chewing objects – allowing your baby to chew on objects such as crusts of bread, rusks or a teething ring can provide comfort. You can chill (not freeze) teething rings or rusks, as pressure from cold objects can help relieve discomfort. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning teething products. Unsweetened teething rusks or sugar-free teething biscuits should only be given to infants over six months who have started eating solids.

Dry the drool – drooling often occurs when your child is teething, causing the skin around the mouth and chin to become irritated. Gently clean the skin with a soft cloth throughout the day.

Pain-relieving medication – Parents should speak to their GP or child health nurse about whether pain-relieving medication, like paracetamol, is needed for your child.

A baby chews on a teething ring

Teething necklaces are a choking and strangulation hazard and are not recommended for children. Other methods mentioned above, are safe and effective.

If pain persists and causes sleepless nights seek further advice from your pharmacist, GP or child health nurse.

A young boy smiles while outside on a forest walk

Taking care of baby teeth

While teething is a normal stage of your child’s development, it can be challenging at times. But never fear, it won’t last forever! Most children have their full set of 20 primary teeth by three years of age.

Tooth care is important from when your baby’s first tooth arrives. Find out how to look after baby teeth and make dental care a daily routine for the whole family.

Last updated: 26 August 2019