Getting first teeth is a milestone, no doubt about it. For some babies the first teeth pop through without any fuss, while others discover that teething really hurts.
Most babies cut their two lower incisors first. The two upper incisors appear shortly after, followed by the two lateral incisors on either side, first at the top, then the bottom. A young child will have 20 teeth, called deciduous teeth (baby teeth); these are gradually replaced by 32 permanent teeth.
Signs of teething
Teething affects every baby differently; some babies don’t even notice that anything is happening, others have a hard time.
• Putting fist into mouth
• Red cheeks or ears
• Grizzly and generally unsettled
• Slight fever.
How to help your baby during teething
If your baby is unsettled during teething, try:
• A teething ring to chew on; some teething rings can be cooled in the fridge.
• Crusts to chew on
• Sucking is soothing so offer extra fluids
If your baby starts biting while breastfeeding, stay calm, say ‘no’ firmly, stop feeding and wait for a few minutes before trying again. Repeat if necessary.
It is a good idea to start cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears. Use a child’s toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles, and fluoridated toothpaste. Even if they only suck or chew on the toothbrush, they will get used to having a toothbrush in their mouth. A blob of toothpaste the size of a pea is ample for young children. Alternatively you can use a soft cloth and a very small smear of junior toothpaste until your baby is around one year old.