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The 5 Stages of Teething

Updated: Apr 1


When your adorable baby starts fussing it can mean they have new teeth coming in, otherwise known as teething. This can be an uncomfortable time for a little one, and a stressful time for parents. But the more you understand about what is happening and how to help, everyone will appreciate that sweet toothy grin before you know it!


How can you tell your baby is teething?

Not all teeth cause discomfort as they break through the gums, but most do. Your little one will typically have teething symptoms for a few days before the tooth comes in, then some soreness for a few days once the tooth breaks through the gums.


Normal symptoms for teething can include:

  • Fussiness

  • Tender gums

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Irritability

  • Loss of appetite

  • More drooling than normal


If your child develops a fever, diarrhea, or a rash, call your pediatrician.


When do baby teeth come in?

Your little one is born with all their 20 primary teeth under the gumline. The teeth start pushing through the gums between 6 and 12 months of age (although it can be earlier or later than this range). They will usually have all their baby teeth in by age 3.


  1. Stage 1: 0-6 months. The teeth your child is born with are called “milk teeth” because their primary diet is milk or formula during this time.

  2. Stage 2: 6-8 months. The first set of teeth come in between 6-8 months of age and are typically the top and bottom front teeth, known as central incisors. You can usually see or feel the jagged edges of the tooth before it breaks through the gums. During this time, your child may want to bite or chew on anything to help with the discomfort, so having teething toys around will help. Also, keep clean bibs ready to catch the additional drool and to prevent rashes on their neck and chest from all the wetness.

  3. Stage 3: 10-14 months. At this stage, your child’s molars will come in, which means bigger teeth, more drool, and more grumpiness. It’s also very common for your baby not to eat as much when molars come in. They can have an increased body temperature, upset tummy, and more sleepless nights – which are all normal. If they develop a fever, diarrhea, or are in severe pain, call your pediatrician.

  4. Stage 4: 16-22 months. Now it’s time for the canine teeth to show up, which are next to the molars and incisors, top and bottom. The same symptoms appear as previous stages, so this time is for helping keep your little one comfortable.

  5. Stage 5: 25-33 months. The last phase of teething is probably the most painful for children and parents. This is when the secondary molars come in, which are the largest of all the teeth.

 

Sometimes, remedies that worked for smaller teeth won’t work for these big chompers. Adding additional calming methods can help, like giving your child hard, cold vegetables to nibble on (like carrots or celery) or gently massaging their gums. Be careful not to give your child anything that is a choking hazard or too hard, which can hurt the gums further. If you need help finding solutions, speak with your pediatrician.


How to care for your teething baby

When your baby is teething, there are a variety of options to help ease their discomfort.


Recommended:

  • Rubbing or massaging swollen or tender gums with clean fingers.

  • Solid rubber teething rings. These can be frozen, but be careful they are not too hard which can hurt gums further.

  • Infant pain relievers like Motrin or Tylenol.

  • Once you see teeth, you can brush them with a soft child’s toothbrush or wipe them clean with a warm washcloth after feedings.


Not recommended:

  • Teethers filled with liquid or plastic objects, which can break and leak into your child’s mouth.

  • Teething gel. If rubbed on the gums, it washes away within minutes and doesn’t actually provide much relief.


Important Note: Stay away from teething tablets or gels containing the plant poison belladonna or benzocaine. They are said to numb your child's pain, but the FDA has issued warnings against both because of potential side effects.​


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