The five stages of teething can be a difficult time for both parent and child, but can be navigated successfully when one knows what to expect.
- Stage 1: (0-6 months) Babies are born with a full set of twenty teeth beneath the gums. These are often referred to as ‘milk teeth’, because during this time the baby is usually fed a diet consisting strictly of milk.
- Stage 2: (6 months) The first teeth to erupt are the upper and lower front teeth, the incisors. Though signs of discomfort may start earlier, the incisors erupt around the age of 6 months. Before eruption, the bumpy edges of the teeth often may be felt beneath the gums, and baby will usually begin chewing on hands, toys, or other items. It is good to provide proper chew devices to satisfy the need for pressure on the gums as it relieves pain and provides distraction. During this stage of teething there will also be a noticeable increase in drool. A small bib worn throughout the day can make it easy to keep baby’s chin dry and prevent a rash from developing. A bib will also help keep clothes dry and baby comfortable.
- Stage 3: (10-14 months)…Here come the primary molars! These teeth are located in the upper and lower jaw, towards the back of the mouth. This stage is similar to stage two, but with an increase in drool, crankiness, and the urge to chew. Do not be surprised if your baby experiences some diarrhea, a slight fever and loses his appetite for a time. His schedule of sleeping may be off, and both baby and parents are likely to lose sleep at night. If pain seems to be severe and baby seems highly uncomfortable, speak to your baby’s physician about recommended over-the-counter medicines or other remedies. Aspirin should never be given to a child under the age of 16 years old.
- Stage 4: (16-22 months) During this stage, your baby’s canine teeth (between incisors and molars on top and bottom) will erupt. Again, the object is to keep baby comfortable.
- Stage 5: (25-33 months) …Revenge of the molars! These are the largest teeth, and some children will find this to be the most painful time of teething. Parents may find that what once was soothing is no longer so. Keep trying different methods of comforting the toddler until something works. One healthy option would be to provide a hard vegetable for the toddler to chew on, like a whole, peeled carrot placed in the freezer for a time. Just be sure to watch baby closely at all times to avoid choking.
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