Track your baby’s milestones ― Teething

Teething is probably baby’s most uncomfortable milestone. Learn what you can expect and how to ease his pain.

Your baby’s first tooth will come in at between 4 and 8 months, sometimes even when he’s a year old. However, symptoms of teething can start much earlier. Though some children handle it better than others, teething is usually a painful process for everyone involved ― from baby to even mum and dad!

The bad news is that you’ll be reaching for the wine bottle more than usual. The good news is that this stage won’t last forever. Plus, as bubba grows older, you’ll be introducing good dental habits to him that should stick forever. We have details on what you can expect during those stormy teething moments, as well as advice on how to keep your peewee’s pearly whites in pristine condition. 

0-6 MONTHS

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* Even before bubba is born, tooth buds were developing under his gum. Enjoy the first few month of your sweetie’s gummy grins, because you will miss them when the first tooth erupts!

* Teething begins at around 4 months, although the actual teeth may take many more months to show up fully. Practise good dental care on your infant from the start ― run a damp washcloth or gum wipe over bubba’s gum regularly.

* When he starts to teethe, your baby’s gums will look swollen and red. He’ll probably also be cranky and drool more than usual. The lower central incisors (two middle teeth at the bottom centre) are usually the first to erupt.

* Some doctors attribute the additional saliva to the increase in your baby’s mouth muscle movements, to activate his salivary glands and simulate chewing. All the extra saliva might cause a rash around the mouth, so keep this area dry and clean.

6-12 MONTHS

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* Now that teething is in full swing, your mini-me will be biting and rubbing his gums on anything and everything in an effort to relieve the pressure on his gums.

* While there’s no instant treatment for teething pain (sorry, parents!), several  things that might alleviate the swelling include frozen teething rings and teething gels/granules. You can also offer your little one a clean, wet washcloth that has been in the fridge for a few hours. You sweetie’s swollen gums should be soothed by anything cold.

* Expect interrupted sleep during this time as bubba will be feeling uncomfortable and look to mummy and daddy for comfort.

* If junior is experiencing gum discomfort, it can also give rise to fussy feeding behaviour. Babies who are breastfeeding might start to nurse, but then pull off and refuse to continue nursing while he cries and fusses. You can also expect similar behaviour from bottlefed babies. Be patient and keep offering baby more frequent feeds, so that he’s getting enough nutrition.

12-18 MONTHS

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* By now, junior should have his central incisors, followed by four upper teeth. He should also be coping with teething a bit better.

* Just after his first birthday, your tot’s first molars and canines will start showing up slowly.  These bad boys are often more painful because they are big, fat and broad-surfaced.

* Since he’s older now, you can give junior homemade yoghurt popsicles, cold smoothies or ice chips to soothe his fiery gums.

* Bring your tyke on his first dental visit by age 1. The dentist will not only check if his teeth are growing well and on schedule, plus, look out for early signs of tooth decay, he or she will also brief you on feeding and toothbrushing habits.

18+ MONTHS 

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* Hang in there folks ― those hellish teething days are almost over. But not before the dreaded second molars (back and top) work their way through. They will come in stages and can appear anytime when he’s between 2 and 3 years of age. By the time junior is 3 years old, he should have a full set of 20 baby teeth.

* Take your tyke along when you’re shopping for a toothbrush. Since they come in all different colours and prints, let him pick one that he likes. Make sure it has soft bristle and the toothbrush is small enough for junior to grip properly.

* Include toothbrushing in his daily morning and evening routine, ideally before a shower. Let him stand on a stool and look into a mirror or sit him on your lap with his face away from you. Show him how to brush using small, gentle circular movements, concentrating on the area where the teeth and gums meet.

* To start, don’t use any toothpaste. Once your tot is comfortable with toothbrushing, put a pea-sized amount on his brush. Buy paste that’s specially made for children below the ages of 3 as they contain lower amounts of fluoride.

Photos: iStock

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