Symptoms will be different for every baby as will be the severity in which they get them. Some babies will sail through the teething period like it’s a breeze. Others will really suffer. This may be because some babies’ pain threshold is higher than others, or because some babies’ teeth come through easier, without as much impact on their gums. Who knows!
There are certainly no rules for teething, but as a general rule these are the most likely symptoms a teething baby will experience…..
The glands that make saliva are called the salivary glands. You have 6 of these and they are located on the bottom of your mouth, in your cheeks and near your front teeth. Babies generally start to dribble at about 3 months of age, this is when the large salivary glands mature.
As babies haven’t learnt how to swallow their saliva yet (and let’s be honest, they don’t actually care!) it will trickle out of their mouth as drool.
Excessive production of saliva can be stimulated by teething, and as it generally begins at about 3 months of age (the same time as teething) the 2 are often linked. However, dribbling doesn’t have to ALWAYS mean your little one is teething. As well as the fact that babies can’t actually swallow their drool, saliva is also stimulated by putting things in their mouth (such as toys or their fists)…. And although this too can be a sign of teething it doesn’t have to be (more about that below).
As unattractive as it is, dribbling does actually have benefits for your baby.
- Once they start eating solid foods, saliva washes away bacteria and food particles that can cause tooth decay
- It can aid digestion
- It can help the intestines mature
- Saliva can help neutralise stomach acid and protect the lining of the oesophagus from irritation.
- It is said to provide relief from teething pain
Some babies drool more than others…. Remember, every baby is different.
How you can help:
Your baby’s chin and neck can be become irritated from all the saliva on their skin. To help you should gently wipe the drool from your baby’s chin using a soft cloth (as soft as you can find). Be careful not to rub the chin as it may be sore, as don’t use baby wipes as these may irritate chapped skin even more. You can help protect the skin by using a barrier cream on the chin to put a layer between the dribble and the skin (just like you do to a bum!). Ointments are best for this, rather than cream. A cream will soak into the skin. An ointment or barrier cream sits on the skin to form a protective layer.
A dribble bib can help too. This can protect the creases in baby’s neck as well as the skin on her chest from getting wet. A thick dribble bib with a soft fleece backing is best. Change frequently when the bib is soaked to make sure the wet part of the fabric doesn’t touch baby’s skin.
Well, wouldn’t you be irritable if you were in pain and frustrated. It is the same for babies.
How can you help:
You can comfort baby by cuddling or playing with them to try to distract them from their pain and giving them something else to concentrate on. Sometimes a mummy cuddle is all that will help!
Gums may become red, swollen and sore as the teeth come closer to the surface and you may see white dots or small openings where the tooth is about to cut through. Gums may be become more painful as the tooth gets closer to breaking through. You may find that as a result of sore gums
How can you help:
Teething toys are the way forward from here. Giving them toys that are safe to put in their mouth can really help. Teething toys made from silicone or natural rubber are the perfect teething aid, and the more raised texture on the toys the better it is for their gums. (Make sure any teething toy you give to your baby is tested to European safety standards. You should be able to tell this from the packaging. If there is no packaging, then it probably hasn’t been tested.)
Having sore gums can lead to biting. Their hands, their fingers or anything they can get their chubby little hands on. It is believed that the sensation of biting down on objects, whether that be their fist or a toy, can cause babies relief from the pain that teething can cause. The pressure on their gums when they are biting on something can cause temporary relief.
However, although biting and putting things in their mouth is definitely a sign of teething, it isn’t the only reason. Around the time they start teething, happens to also be around the time that babies ‘find’ their hands, that soon become their new favourite plaything. Putting their fist (and soon after, toys) into their mouth is a way to explore and discover the world. Oral exploration is a key development stage. Putting their hands and toys (or anything they find) into their mouth allows babies to discover the taste and texture of different things. Just as an adult explores using their hands; a baby will use its tongue and mouth to learn more about an object.
Warning: once your baby masters finding her hands, she will soon be able to grab hold of other items and guide them to her mouth. Please be careful not to leave anything near enough to your baby that is not safe for her to grab hold of and put to her mouth. Small and dangerous items should be kept far away.
There is nothing wrong with baby chewing their hands and sleeves; after all they are learning and this may be causing them relief from teething pain, but all the chewing and saliva on their fingers and fists can cause their skin to become chapped and sore.
How you can help:
To protect little hands from getting chapped you could get them a teething mitt, such as the one from Belo + Me (find it here). These mitts are great at saving little hands, but also for relieving teething pain.
It is a widely debated topic between parents and healthcare professionals alike, that teething is likely to cause runny poos. There seems to be no actual proof or studies to confirm this, and it is hard to find any actual facts, yet some parents still believe it to be true.
It is said by the believers that as a baby is likely to swallow more saliva, their stools tend to become runnier. It is true that some teething babies may get diarrhoea and loose stools, but is this due to teething? I guess no one knows. But here are some other options as to why a baby may have a dodgy tummy whilst teething.
- Teething symptoms last for so long for some baby’s, that they are bound to have a case of diarrhoea in that length of time.
- The excess saliva (like mentioned above) when swallowed, irritates the stomach. This can cause more bowel movements which can sometimes include diarrhoea.
- When a baby is teething they tend to put things in their mouth, which can cause bacteria which in turn can cause an upset stomach resulting in diarrhoea.
- Teething may also coincide with weaning or trying new foods which could be the result of an upset stomach.
Correlation or coincidence? You decide….. we leave the jury open on this one.
I guess this depends on where you stand on the above topic. Let’s just say for now that there is a correlation between teething and loose poos. Diarrhoea can be acidic which can aggravate the skin on a baby’s bottom. So this would suggest a connection between nappy rash and teething although it is not directly linked.
Mild nappy rash is fairly common in babies. Besides teething, other reasons for nappy rash are:
- Wetness: even the best nappies will leave moisture in contact with baby’s skin. This wetness softens and weakens the outer layer of skin causing irritation. The weakened outer layer also allows the nappy to rub against the skin and further aggravate it.
- Sensitivity: some babies have very sensitive skin and even a small amount of wetness can cause irritation.
- Allergies: nappy rash can also be the result of an allergic reaction to a product that has touched your baby’s skin. This can be the nappy that you are using, creams, soaps or baby wipes.
How do you know if your baby has nappy rash?
If the skin around your baby’s nappy area is red and sore, then it is probably nappy rash. The skin may also become inflamed and spotty. Mild rashes may not bother your baby too much, and they should be easily treated. But if the rash is sore, then your baby may cry or become upset when they are doing a wee or poo as the wetness may sting their skin. Nappy changes can be also be painful for baby if the rash is severe.
Nappy rash can also affect your baby’s genitals and thighs in some cases. It can come on suddenly or get worse over time.
If nappy rash does not go away after a short use of creams, if it seems severe or if you are worried at all, then always seek medical advice from your GP.
How you can help:
- Change baby’s nappy as often as possible. And straight after a poo.
- Choose the most absorbent nappy to reduce the amount of wetness of the skin.
- When you change baby’s nappy, use cotton wool and water instead of wipes. And make sure the skin is completely dry before reapplying a nappy.
- Use a barrier cream with every nappy change before putting on the clean nappy. The cream will provide a protective layer (a barrier) between the moisture and the skin.
- Let your baby have as much nappy free time as possible! The more the merrier!
- Don’t bath your baby too often as this may cause them discomfort and water dries out the skin. Instead just keep your baby clean and fresh with a flannel wash. Avoid soaps, bubble bath and lotions.
Did you know: disposable nappies with a + sign have extra absorbency – they don’t mean they are bigger than their regular counterpart.
It is important to treat nappy rash as soon as you see it appear. If left untreated it can become infected. If nappy rash gets worse, starts to spread, or if you are worried, always seek medical advice from your GP.
Even when nappy rash has gone it is important to change baby’s nappy as regularly as possible and use barrier creams at every change so that the rash doesn’t come back. Bum free time is still important too… and let’s face it, that (nappy rash free) bare bum is pretty cute!
I think it goes without saying that the pain caused by teething can cause some sleepless nights. Even as adults everything always seems worse at night, and a teething baby is no exception. Babies who suffer from teething pains are likely to wake at night or have trouble getting to sleep.
This may effect the quality of baby’s sleep and they may seem more tired during the day.
This may in turn effect the quality of baby’s sleep and they may seem more tired during the day.
How you can help:
Sleepless nights call for Mummy and Daddy cuddles. Your baby will want you to sooth them and know that you are close by. Snuggles will do them the world of good. If you can’t take away their pain, at least you can be there with them.
Don’t worry about routine during these times. If the only way baby is comforted is by falling asleep in your arms, then what is the harm!
Other symptoms of teething include:
Loss of appetite: sucking may cause additional pain to a teething baby and so they may lose appetite for milk during this time.
Rubbing their ear: toothache can sometimes seem like earache, so you may find your baby pulling or attempting to scratch their ear on one side.
Red cheek: the cheek on the side where the tooth is coming through may seem red and flushed