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Reading the Signs of Teething
in Your Infant

signs of teething 1
Good news! You don't have to be a psychic to read the signs of teething in your infant!

Even though those little nubs are hidden beneath the surface, and your baby can't communicate (besides the wailing I mean), there are still little clues you can follow to give you a gosh-darn pretty-good indication of whether there is about to be a tooth eruption.

With a little "elementary", dear Watson, you can endorse or eliminate the teething question from your "what-the-heck-is-wrong-with-her" equation.

When Do Babies Start Teething Anyway?

Three months is the absolute earliest teeth are known to sprout (and this is rare). Most babies start getting their first teeth around 6-9 months old (although some babies can still be waiting for those first two teeth at their first birthday).

For more information on this milestone, including when you can expect the rest of his teeth to fall into line, check out this timeline.

With that question answered, let's turn to our checklist of teething symptoms.

The Signs of Teething Checklist

Before we jump in with both teeth..ummm...feet...keep in mind that some of these symptoms may be spot-on, while others may not show up at all in your infant. Check through the list, and if a majority of the boxes are checked, it may be time to check out some remedies. Of course, you could decide to try some all-natural soothing techniques regardless and see if the treatment diagnoses the problem.

Every baby will be different. My first breezed through teething. We didn't even realize she was teething until these white things started popping up in her mouth. My second...well...let's just say I'm SUPER glad her teething days are over. My third? Well...we'll see!

  • The Look and Feel Test - Signs of Teething #1

    A great way to start this grand-teething experiment is to use your eyes and fingers to poke around. If your baby is teething for the first time, concentrate on the bottom front. These are the first teeth to show up (the teething schedule can tell you where/when to expect the rest).

    Do the gums look a little red and swollen? Can you feel a small bump under the skin? Sometimes you can even see a rise or a lump in the gums for a few weeks. You could see a little bruising, white dots, or small openings where the tooth is splitting through. (They don't call it "cutting teeth" for nothing.)

    Don't see anything? Not to worry. Your baby could still be teething...keep working through the checklist.

  • Drooling, Drooling, and More Drooling - Signs of Teething #2

    Is your baby drenched with drool? Is there a rash starting on his chin? (Constant saliva can irritate the skin.) This flood of saliva is actually a good thing.

    First, it protects the mouth from being traumatized from the various things he is sticking in his mouth (think of it as a coating of cushiony goodness for tender gums).

    Second, antibodies found in the drool prevents the bacteria and viruses on those various items and body parts from settling down into the throat or intestinal tract and reeking havoc on his little immune system.


    Side Note: Excessive drooling isn't always one of the signs of teething. My brother constantly drooled as a baby (as dozens of wet-collar photos can attest). Years later we discovered he had a deviated septum, which made breathing out of his nose difficult. A simple procedure fixed this issue. If you feel your baby is drooling too much and it doesn't look like teething's the cause, speak to your doctor.
  • The Great Fever / Diarrhea Debate - Signs of Teething #3

    There's fierce debate among pediatricians about whether the presence of a fever or diarrhea is a sign of teething, or if it is unrelated. A fever under 100.4 degrees can be safely handled at home for a baby. Anything higher should prompt a phone call to your doctor.

    Besides a fever, some parents also may notice looser bowel movements during teething time. In fact, a study in Australia listed diarrhea as one of the most common symptoms of teething. To be safe, report any diarrhea (two or more loose stool diapers) to your doctor.

  • Constant Coughing - Signs of Teething #4

    The extra saliva produced in teething can cause some infants to cough or gag. Besides all the drool going out there is just as much going the other way, and irritating her little throat. However, as I'm sure you realize, constant coughing can be caused by other things as well. Watch for signs of a high fever, an infant cold, or the flu, just in case.

    This symptom is not as frequent as others listed here, but it occasionally does happen. If the coughing seems excessive, call your doctor for treatment options.

  • Chewing on EVERYTHING - Signs of Teething #5

    One of the most obvious signs of teething is your infant's desire to chew on everything. I once saw a baby crawl over to the kitchen cabinet so she could gnaw on the door knobs.

    Why this infatuation with gnawing? The counter pressure from biting on something helps to relieve the pressure under the gums caused by teeth pushing up. Indulge this chewing obsession with good teething toys or other tricks to provide relief.

  • Mr. Grumpy Pants - Signs of Teething #6

    Like I mentioned above, my first was a teething angel. My second would transform into this little horror of fussiness and irritability. If we put her down she'd scream to get picked up. If we picked her up she'd scream to be walked. If we walked she decided she wanted to be put down. It was a frustrating cycle.

    It helps to put yourself into your baby's booties. Teething is often the first real, sharp pain your baby feels. Especially at first, he may not know what to do about this soreness and pressure in his mouth. As he grows older, he may become more accustomed to this uncomfortableness and may become less fussy with subsequent teeth.

    Click here for homeopathic tips on how to calm your little fussy monster down.

  • Sleep? What's Sleep? - Signs of Teething #7

    If your baby is Little Miss Teething Perfect during the day, sometimes all she needs is to turn out the light to magically transform into Your Worst Nightmare. There are all kinds of distractions going on during the day that can effectively help her ignore the bad feeling coming from her gums.

    Once it's time to "nigh-nigh," that little pin-prick of pain can easily pop to the front as a throbbing agony that keeps her (and you) awake. In this situation (speaking from experience here), give her an extra bottle or nurse to soothe her, then try to put her down again. You may have to break her of the habit of Midnight Snacks once this teething episode is over, but in the meantime it will help her quiet down and go to sleep. (Nothing lulls an infant to sleep like a full tummy!)

    Besides an extra feeding time, you could also choose to give her medication to help get through the night. If this option appeals to you, always talk to your doctor before giving your infant teething medication.

  • Ear Tugging and Cheek Rubbing - Signs of Teething #8

    It is not uncommon for a parent to bring a baby in for a sure-fire ear infection, only to discover that all that tugging and fussing was really related to teeth about to punch through. (Yes, I've paid that $30 doctor co-pay lesson.)

    The nerves in the gums travel up the jaw line, so some babies feel that ear tugging and cheek rubbing provides relief to the soreness in their mouth. To save yourself a pointless doctor visit, see if any of these other symptoms are present, and read up on how to identify an ear infection in your baby before loading up the car.

  • Bye Bye Appetite - Signs of Teething #9

    Some parents notice a marked decrease in appetite as one of the signs of teething in their infant. I would personally concur with this one. Favorite foods are left untouched, relied-upon bottles are abandoned.

    Loss of appetite can also be a sign of other issues, so always look for more than just this clue when deciphering the signs of teething. If you notice it has been several days of poor eating or that she is losing weight, contact your doctor.

  • Bleeding and Bruising: The Ultimate Parent Freak-Out - Signs of Teething #10

    signs of teething
    It is not uncommon for up-and-coming teeth to leave bruises on a baby's gums. In fact, sometimes, before a tooth makes its final push to freedom, there can be a sudden gush of blood that fills your heart with terror. Before you over-react and send your baby into hysterics, let's see what's actually happening.

    Occasionally, a small pocket (or cyst) of blood will sit above the emerging tooth. The tooth, not be dissuaded by some pansy-pocket of blood, pops the balloon (so to speak) and a gush of blood is the result.

    Look at your infant. Is he conscious and acting normal? Great. Just wipe away the blood, feel around the tooth and double check that that is the source of the red stuff. If it is really caused by teething, he shouldn't act any differently, because, to him, it won't feel any different.



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If you've gone through The Signs of Teething Checklist and your baby seems to be passing most of the tests, chances are you're going to start seeing some white bumps in her mouth over the next few days.

If your baby is acting normal and isn't showing any of these symptoms, then be happy! You may have an Easy Teether in your midst!

So what to do if your infant is NOT an Easy Teether? Is he stuck with the choice of suffering or drugs? There's hope. Here's where to start...

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