Toddler showing new baby teeth.

Teething. A word that has the power to make even the most experienced mama cringe a little. It’s obviously an exciting (and important!) developmental milestone, but cutting teeth can cause your little one some discomfort (and potentially cause you both to lose a bit of sleep). Here’s everything you need to know to help your baby get through teething like a champ.

When Will My Baby Get Teeth?

It depends on the baby! Typically the first tooth begins to appear at 6-12 months old, and some babies fall outside of this wide range.

Baby teeth typically show up in pairs—so if you see one tooth starting to break through, there’s likely another one not too far behind it! Most little ones will usually have all of their baby teeth by the time they reach their third birthday. Fluoride toothpaste should be added in a tiny smear (a pinky nail size) on a toothbrush to brush baby’s teeth before bed nightly starting around 9 months. This swallowed amount will provide sufficient needed fluoride.

What Are the Signs of Teething? 

While some parents may be surprised at the sudden presence of a tooth without noticing any unusual behavior, others may suspect their baby is teething months before a tooth actually erupts. Here’s what to look for when your baby is teething:

  • Baby drools more than usual (we know, how can there be more drool?); Quick note: around 3-4 months babies will naturally drool more due to the normal physiologic changes that usually have nothing to do with teething
  • Gums appear swollen and tender where a tooth may be coming in
  • General crankiness and/or trouble sleeping
  • A slightly elevated body temperature—however if baby’s temperature rises over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, this is a sign of illness or infection that may require treatment (and you should contact baby’s provider)

How Do You Soothe a Teething Baby?

There are a lot of tried and true tricks to help your little one through teething discomfort, including:

  • Massaging their gums with clean fingers (be careful if your little one already has a few teeth!)
  • Give baby a solid teething ring or toy to chew on—and throw them in the refrigerator to get chilly for extra relief (avoid teethers filled with liquid that are meant to be frozen—they can actually be too hard for your baby or be bit open and ingested)
  • Wet a clean washcloth and throw it in the freezer, then give it to your little one to gum on
  • Teething biscuits or crackers can be helpful for babies who are starting to eat solids—but make sure to supervise in case a large chunk breaks off
  • If baby is older than 6 months, offer cold water in a sippy cup (this allows some cool liquid to sooth ouchy gums while also providing some comfort while sucking); Between 6-9 months, keep daily total water to 6oz.
  • If baby is noticeably uncomfortable, speak with their provider about the appropriate dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) for babies under 6 months old, or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) if baby is over 6 months old

There are a few teething remedies that should be avoided, and are not recommended for use:

  • Any teething tablets containing belladonna (a plant poison), or teething gels with benzocaine (the FDA has issued warnings about both ingredients due to possible side effects, that include death; if a topical remedy can numb the gums, it can numb the nerves of the throat too, allowing for early choking and silent aspiration)
  • Amber teething necklaces are sometimes marketed as a homeopathic teething remedy, however they are a strangulation risk and choking hazard. There is also no research to support their use or effectiveness

We hope your little one flies through teething without many issues. And if your little one has moments of discomfort or crankiness—remember mama, this too shall pass. Try different things to soothe them and see what brings your little one some relief. You’ve got this!