Spot the signs of teething

Remember when your wisdom teeth came through? Now imagine a similar amount of pain at six-months old....


It's pretty shocking, but a quarter of new parents unknowingly leave their child in possible pain or discomfort for up to four and a half days before spotting the signs of teething. National Teething Week, 17th- 23rd November 2014, aims to educate parents how to spot the early signs.

Recent research also revealed that almost half of new parents don't recognise the common symptoms of teething, while 46% found that teething was the hardest thing about having a young child. Next time you hear a screaming baby and see a frustrated parent on the bus, have a bit of empathy - over two thirds of parents have had to leave a public place after feeling embarrassed at being unable to calm their teething child. 

There are many symptoms of teething such as irritability, swollen gums, mild fever and digestive disorders. Some, such as drooling, can also be part of the normal developmental stage of infancy – so this time in a baby’s life can be confusing for parents.

Recognising the signs

While most babies begin teething around six months, the first tooth can appear anytime between three and 14 months.  Look out for:

The need to gnaw
Pressure caused by an emerging tooth beneath the gums may be relieved by counter pressure, so teething babies often want to chomp on things. 

Puffy gums
Before a new tooth erupts, it can cause a red, swollen, bruised-looking area on a baby’s gums. Sometimes the gum bulges with the emerging tooth, which you can see faintly beneath the skin.

Excessive drooling
Increased spittle can herald a new tooth – but it’s also a normal developmental stage of infancy, so don’t assume that drooling means teething.  There’s no way to tell whether baby’s saliva is the result of teething or not, though it may be if you also see….

Fussiness, especially at night
Tooth eruption (when the tooth moves through the bone and gum) tends to come in stages, with more activity at night than during the day, so baby may be more irritable in the evening. 

Ear pulling
While it can also be a sign of ear infection, tugging can be a symptom of teething – the pain from the jaw gets transferred to the ear canal.

 A change in eating habits
Babies who are eating solids may want to nurse or bottle-feed more because a spoon irritates their inflamed gums.  Others may do the opposite, eating more than usual because the counter pressure feels good. 

Tips for soothing a baby’s sore gums...

Rub the baby’s gums
Use a clean finger, moistened gauze pad or damp washcloth to massage the baby’s gums. The pressure can ease the baby’s discomfort.

Keep it cool
A cold washcloth or chilled teething ring can be soothing. However, don’t give a baby a frozen teething ring. Contact with extreme cold may be harmful.

Natural remedies
A homeopathic medicine like Camilia Oral Solution can be used to relieve a baby’s teething pain and other associated minor symptoms such as irritability and swollen gums. (£6.95 for 10 single dose containers, from Boots and independent pharmacies)

For more information, visit


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