9 min read

How to Survive Your Baby Teething

teething baby survival guide
You will survive! Here are all the tips and tricks you need to get you and your baby through teething.     Congratulations - your baby is teething! What does that mean for your child and the rest of the family? It may mean a little bit of pain for both baby and parent, or even a sleepless night or two. But all of you will survive intact with this guide - and then you can introduce your little one to solid foods and teeth brushing!  

“I used frozen watermelon or other fruit that you can cut big enough so they don't choke. She used to suck and chew on it until her gums felt better.” - Amber, Centennial, CO

When do babies start teething?

  While most babies will begin teething around 6 months of age, this number varies widely. Some children won’t begin teething until they’re 12 months old, while some start teething at 3 months old. Some children are even born with a tooth or two! Most children will have all of their 20 primary baby teeth by the time they’re 3 years old.   Usually, the four front top teeth and two front bottom teeth (incisors) emerge from the gums first. Most children will sprout their lower teeth first, and then the upper teeth will follow in another 1 to 2 months. Incisors usually emerge first since they are relatively thin and sharp compared to our other teeth.   Once your child’s back molars start growing in, the teething pain can intensify. Molars often appear around 12 months of age, and unsurprisingly, they cause more pain simply because they are the biggest teeth. They’re big, fat and broad-surfaced, meaning they have to tear away and break down much more gum tissue to come through.   Following your child’s first set of molars, she’s likely to next grow her canines - the teeth between the molars and incisors - and then by the age of 2, sprout her second set of molars. (Yes, she’ll have to go through the teething pain of molars twice!) Since her front teeth and back molars will likely appear before her canines, your baby is probably going to have a gappy smile at first - that’s totally normal! Just enjoy her gappy grin before your baby’s canines come in.  

“We froze Go-Gurts for my daughter. She loved them! To this day she thinks that's how you're supposed to eat them.” - Jennifer, Mary Esther, FL


Why some babies teeth early and some teeth late

  When attempting to answer the question “When do babies start teething?” we need to keep in mind that all babies are a little different, and the age at which or rate at which your baby teethes is mostly dependent on his genetics. So if you’re a family of early teethers, there’s a good chance your baby will end up one, too.   The key is not to panic since “normal” is a huge spectrum. Unlike the growth of your baby’s body, the appearance of your baby’s first teeth is not influenced by his nutrition or health - those teeth will emerge when they’re good and ready!   In rare cases, babies may be born with teeth (known as natal teeth). If the natal tooth is loose, your doctor will likely remove it to prevent your baby from accidentally swallowing it and choking. If the natal tooth is still firmly in the gums, your doctor will probably advise you to do little more than monitor it and keep it clean.   If your baby is still toothless on his first birthday, that’s not cause for concern either. If you’re worried, a dentist can perform an x-ray to check that teeth are present in your baby’s jaw - they’re just taking their time to sprout.

“My son loves to chew on a wooden spoon. It calms him down and keeps him busy so he forgets about the pain.” - Claire, Parker, CO


What are signs and symptoms of teething?

  Babies experience all sorts of not-very-fun symptoms when they’re teething. In a study published in Pediatrics, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation followed 125 children from their 3-month checkup through their first birthday. The researchers found that during teething, children experienced a significant increase in:  
  • Biting
  • Drooling
  • Gum rubbing
  • Sucking
  • Irritability
  • Wakefulness
  • Ear rubbing
  • Facial rash
  • Decreased appetite
  • Mild temperature
  Teething babies will likely bite and chew in order to relieve the soreness and swelling they feel from the tooth before it comes through the gums. Usually, teething symptoms begin 3 to 5 days before a tooth breaks through the gum line, and then disappear after the tooth appears - only to reappear in preparation for the next tooth to come.   Although scientists aren’t sure why teething babies drool so much, one theory suggests that as babies move their jaws, all that biting and gnawing simulates eating, which in turn causes the salivary glands to produce saliva - even though your baby does need it. Unfortunately, all that excessive saliva can mean more than just a messy baby - drooling during teething can cause a rash to appear around the mouth or where it pools under chubby baby chins on the neck or chest, so do your best to keep these areas clean and dry and treat any infections with a topical anti-inflammatory cream.   Some babies may have teething blisters. These small blood blisters commonly appear where the tooth will erupt. They might look a little gruesome but they’re nothing to worry about. Fluid builds up on the gum which can create the blood blister. When the tooth breaks through, the blister will burst. Your baby might have a mouthful of blood, but there’s no need to be alarmed - that means the tooth has broken through and the blister has resolved itself.   Once baby teeth do emerge, they sometimes look crooked, discolored or widely spaced. Discoloration wears off as babies start eating a normal, healthy diet, and crooked teeth and gap-toothed smiles may shift as more teeth grow in.   Many babies don't seem to be affected by teething at all. If you’re parent to such a lucky baby, count your blessings!  

“My son hates teething rings but loves chewing on his fingers, so I got him a teether shaped like a hand and he loves chewing on it. That and Infants' Advil are my lifesavers.” - Ashley, Shippensburg, PA


Why do babies get diarrhea and fevers when they teeth?

  The real question is: does teething genuinely cause diarrhea and fevers? Or is this just an old wives’ tale?   That teething causes a whole host of health problems - like coughing, sneezing, diarrhea or inconsolable crying - has long been taken for granted. In recent years, however, research has revealed that some of these “truths” are probably more likely myths.   Teething babies indeed experience discomfort that can lead to fussiness or some difficulty falling asleep. But most doctors agree that normal teething does not cause acute pain - it’s more of a dull pain that can be treated with teething toys, infant Tylenol or simply by distracting your baby with a game. If your baby is grumpy all day and disinterested in engaging in other activities, she may be ill, not just teething.   So how do you tell the difference between teething pains and something serious? If your baby’s fever is running at 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.8 degrees Celsius) or higher, if she’s experiencing congestion, sleep disturbance, coughing, or vomiting, it’s best to call or visit the doctor in order to rule out a more serious problem like an ear infection. Furthermore, if your baby is having diarrhea, it’s likely because of something like a tummy virus or food intolerance or allergy. Some teething babies may experience loose stools from swallowing all of the extra saliva teething produces, but if your baby’s bowel movements are more numerous, explosive or accompanied by blood or mucus, consult your pediatrician.   If your baby’s symptoms last longer than a few days - and no tooth erupts - then something else besides teething might be happening.  

"My son's amber teething necklace worked wonders for him. He would wear it and not even realize it was there." --Molly, Hickory, NC


How to relieve teething pain: The most effective teething remedies


Gum Massage

  Even before your baby begins teething, practice regular gum massage and rinsing his mouth out after feedings. Not only will that help cultivate good oral health from the start, but also it will get your baby used to the sensation of having his mouth cleaned - so hopefully he won’t fight you further on down the line when he has teeth that need brushing.   The ISSA™ mikro is an electric toothbrush made especially for babies that you can use for gum massage from the beginning, and continue to use for brushing once your baby’s teeth start coming through. Check out our full guide to brushing for more details.   Continue with regular gum massage through the teething stage - it will help relieve pressure on your baby’s sore gums and break up the gum tissue so that teeth can erupt less painfully.  

Cold treatment

  Just as an athlete’s sore and aching muscles are soothed with the help of a cold compress, so are your infant’s teething gums. Many parents swear by nothing more than a cold, wet, clean rag or spoon for their child to gnaw on. Other parents use chilled celery, bananas, carrots or popsicles to provide cooling relief - just be cautious of choking.  


  If you’re worried about the choking hazard of chilled fruits or vegetables, you can try using a feeder. These handy little devices are basically a mesh net, inside of which you place the chunk of pear, peach apple - whatever it may be. Your baby can then chew on the food inside the feeder without any risk of choking. Once the food inside the feeder is entirely pulverized, you can rinse it out and machine wash it clean.  

Pain-relieving gels

  Many parents have used topical gels to great success, but in recent years the FDA has warned that teething gels come with risks for children under 2. These medicated gels contain benzocaine, which help numb sore gums, but if swallowed, can numb the throat and interfere with your baby’s gag reflex. In very rare instances, benzocaine can also cause methemoglobinemia, a serious condition in which the amount of oxygen in the blood drops dangerously low. While these risks are relatively small, it’s enough to motivate many parents to try some of these different pain-relieving tactics instead.  

Regular sleep

  Not all babies adhere to a regular napping schedule, but as much as possible, help your baby stay well-rested through the teething process. If your teething baby is having trouble sleeping, you can try medications like Infant Tylenol (if they’re under 6 months old) or Children’s Motrin (if they’re over 6 months old). Motrin fights inflammation, which is especially effective at reducing the pain of teething.  

Skin protection

  To keep your baby’s skin on his face, chin, neck and chest clean and dry, use a bib. Some parents also like to use a mild ointment like petroleum jelly to mitigate skin infections caused by all that drool.  

Keep your baby full

  Sometimes the pain of teething discourages children from eating. So, before meal time, let your baby chew on something cold to first relieve the pain, and then hopefully they’ll feel more like eating.  

“Frozen fruit cut up small - strawberries, melon, cucumber and watermelon cut into spears. And his vibrating teether.” - Sulen, Whittier, CA


Best toys for teething

  Toys work wonders at distracting from the pain of teething - especially teethers!   Keep these fun fruit-shaped teethers in the fridge or freezer for the next bout of teething pains your baby experiences. They’re also easily cleaned, easy for tiny fingers to grasp and hold and made from high quality grade silicone.   The Snuggin elephant is a stuffed animal not only gives your child something safe and gentle to gnaw on, but it’s also convenient for transportation - velcro pockets mean you can store toys inside to take on-the-go. Its looped hand allows parents to strap in any pacifier or teether in for easy access.   These banana and corn teethers are convenient, safe and adorable - these mini silicone gum massagers look as cute as they are effective.   Baby bandana bibs keep tiny chins and necks as clean and dry as possible when your child’s struck with the case of the teething drools - plus they’re available in fun and stylish colors and fabrics that are easily machine washable.

Frozen whole wheat bagels-- my daughter loved them and they were good for her, too! --Jillian, Timberlake, NC

  Once your baby’s teeth come in, you’ll need to know how to keep baby teeth clean and healthy - check out our full brushing guide or visit FOREO.com.   Real parent testimonials from parents.com Disclaimer: The information on this website and any related links are for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, contact a professional healthcare provider.

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