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6 Baby Teething Basics

Learn tips for dealing with a teething baby from pediatrician Dyan Hes, M.D. in this Howcast video about newborn and baby development.


Parents always think their babies are teething. Probably from one month of age, I get a lot of calls where the parents say, "I think my baby is teething." And you have to remember that babies are oral, babies put everything in their mouths. As earlier as 17 weeks in uterus, you can see your baby putting their thumb in their mouth sometimes. This does not mean that your baby is going to erupt teeth the next day.

Most babies get their teeth any time between four months and twelve months, so there's a wide range. It's really based individually, every baby is different. You usually see the gums getting swollen, and you see some white under the gums. You can actually see the teeth where they're coming in. So if you see that the baby's gums are swollen, or you see white at the edge of the rim of the gums, then you might know that your baby's tooth is going to erupt soon. But most three and four month olds don't have teeth.

I would say the majority of babies get teeth around 6 months. Personally, my kids did not get their teeth until 12 months. So we had a lot of drooling going on for many, many months, but that's not a problem. If you have late teeth, that's also not a problem. There's a wide range of normal. So, right now, we do not recommend using any of the over-the-counter products, like numbing agents, because many children have been overdosed with numbing agents. The parents put too much numbing agent on the gums and it actually can numb their gag reflex.

So we really recommend a cold teething ring, I'm a big fan of the old fashioned wetting a washcloth, freezing it in the freezer, and then giving it to the baby to bite on. They love that feeling, they suck the water out of it, and they love that feeling of the cold, crunchy washcloth on their gums. You can also massage your baby's gums with your finger. After 6 months, if a baby is erupting a tooth and really teething terribly, you can give some infant ibuprofen, because that has anti-inflammatory properties, and it will help the baby with the pain in the teeth. You can also use acetaminophen. You can massage your baby's gums to help with the pain a bit, and in addition, a lot of parents like to use herbal remedies that are sold over the counter.

Just be sure to check with your doctor about any herbal remedy that you will use with your child. Herbal medicines are not checked by the Food and Drug Administration, they are only inspected by the U.S. Department of Treasury. So, I would bring any herbal medicine to your pediatrician, and check to see if it has been inspected by any regulatory board, and that the ingredients are safe for your child.

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