We know how frustrating it can be when your typically happy baby is starting to get teeth: the smiles, coos, and giggles are replaced by drooling, crying, and just overall grumpiness. 

There are ways you can help your little one get through the rough spots, though, making the overall experience more pleasant for both you and your baby.

What do we mean by “teething”?

Most parents refer to “teething” as that time during their child’s first two to three years of life when their first set of teeth start to come up through the gums.

When does teething typically start?

Timing varies for each child, but babies typically start getting their first teeth between 6 and 10 months of age. Some children get them sooner, or later, but they really should have gotten their first tooth by the time they reach 16 months of age.

How long does teething last?

The length of time a child has fussiness due to teething varies, but it can take several years before all 20 teeth come through the gums.

What are some normal reactions to teething?

Children exhibit a variety of symptoms when they’re teething, and all are different, but typically we’d anticipate some redness in their gums, increased drooling or biting on things, as well as overall fussiness or irritability. These things are all normal reactions to teething.

What are some not normal reactions?

If your child has a true fever – generally anything 100.4 degrees or higher – or is vomiting or having diarrhea, those are not typical reactions to teething and may mean there’s something else going on. Contact your child’s primary care provider if you are concerned.

How do you soothe a baby who is teething?

There are several things parents can do to help ease some of the pain of teething for their baby. The easiest thing is to rub or massage your baby’s gums with your clean finger. If the baby is old enough, you can use chilled, but not frozen, teething rings, or give them a clean, wet washcloth that you’ve put in the freezer to chew on. As a last resort, an oral medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can be used to help relieve the pain.

What are some products that aren’t safe to use?

We hear a lot about teething necklaces, often made of amber, but we don’t recommend them for several reasons – the beads are small enough that they create a choking hazard, and the necklaces themselves can be a strangulation hazard. There have been cases of children being hurt or dying from these necklaces so they can be dangerous. We also follow FDA guidelines and do not recommend topical gels or teething tablets, because they can have negative side effects, including rare and serious conditions called methemoglobinemia and belladonna toxicity.

Our team is here to help. Same-day appointments are available at all pediatric primary care locations. Call 1-888-573-5437 or visit uichildrens.org/pediatrics for a full list of locations and providers.

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