Teething is the worst. Depending on when your infant starts teething, the whole process can last 2-3 years. We'll cover basic signs of teething and offer a few ways to handle it.
My daughter started showing signs of teething at four months old. That's considered early for teething, but since I got my first tooth at 8 weeks old, I wasn't surprised. Sure enough, her first tooth popped through at 5 months. No other teeth followed until around 9 months, which is considered a more normal teething time. (The American Dental Association says first teeth are expected between 6-14 months). Unfortunately, even though she didn't have more teeth come up in those 4 months, she was constantly teething. Infant teeth can move up and down while they grow, and I could tell that her mouth was bothering her with nothing to show for it. It's probably been the hardest part of caring for our daughter so far.
Here are some signs of teething I saw with my daughter. If two or more of these things came at the same time, I was confident that she was teething.
- constant drooling
- chewing on hands, toys, or blankets
- semi-constant diaper rash
- semi-constant low fever (warm to touch, but she wasn't really registering a significant change on a thermometer)
- apparent loss of appetite
- trouble sleeping
- general irritability/sensitivity/clingy-ness
My daughter basically had constant diaper rash for about 6 months while she was in high-gear teething mode. Every once in a while, a rash would flare up again for a few days and it was a hint that something is moving around in her mouth. She's two now, but even this last week, she had some tummy troubles with no sign of illness, has been chewing on her hands, and has had uncharacteristic mood sensitivity. I'm sure her molars are moving.
It's important to note that apparent loss of appetite doesn't mean your baby isn't hungry or tired. It likely means they're struggling to eat and sleep through the pain and discomfort, adding to their irritability.
Thus, teething is the worst. It can last for weeks and weeks at a time, with only a few good days in between. What can you do?
- Learn your baby's signs of teething. (Diaper rash is a huge tell for my baby, but yours may not have any rash during teething)
- Properly use infant Tylenol or ibuprofen. (My daughter would spend days around the clock on baby pain medication so she could eat, sleep, and heal from diaper rash. No guilt if your family is surviving on pain medication when given in proper dosages listed on the package!)
- Get bibs to soak up drool to save on outfits. (We'd go through 2-3 bibs a day during the peak teething time, but only one outfit. Bandana styles are trending for boys and girls.)
- Have plenty of chew toys. (Silicone, bead rings, cooling rings, toothbrush style, even stylish necklaces for mom for on-the-go gnawing.)
- Watch yourself for signs of fatigue, and then take a break! (I associate constant crying with using a cheese grater on my brain. Call a friend or family member to take a shift, or set baby down safely in a crib and turn up some music somewhere else for a minute or two.)
- If you have any concerns about your baby's symptoms, call your pediatrician.