Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
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Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)
Child Development & Parenting: Middle (8-11)

Common Baby Medical Concerns - Teething

Angela Oswalt, MSW

Around age 5 to 6 months, give or take a few weeks, primary teeth begin burrowing their way from deep inside a baby's gums. Babies will continue to sprout four teeth about every four months until all twenty primary teeth appear, around age 2½ years. Every baby develops in their own time, but parents can always consult their pediatrician or dentist if they have any concerns. Caregivers may notice the baby has begun teething because they begin waking in the middle of the night fussing, where they had previously been sleeping through the night, or begin to drool excessively. To check for incoming teeth, gently run a clean finger along the gum line to see if there is a swollen ridge of teeth attempting to work their way through the gums.

Babies can have varying levels of discomfort during teething. The teething experience will unique as the child herself. Several symptoms of teething discomfort can become evident. Because of the excessive drool, the baby can experience a rash around their mouth from the constant wetness and irritation, and diarrhea as the excessive drool also irritates the anus. Babies can develop a cough as extra drool slips down their trachea; they may also have a low-grade fever, around 101 degree F. Babies will also experience different levels of pain while the teeth cut through the sensitive gums. Some infants may refuse to eat, while other babies may begin gnawing on everything: their fists, crib rail, toys, etc.

Caregivers can help soothe an infant's teething discomfort by providing cold teething aids like plastic teething rings placed in the freezer, an ice cube wrapped in a washcloth, or a cold food, such as a frozen banana. Be aware of choking hazards or food sensitivities when providing babies with frozen food items. Parents and caregivers can give infant acetaminophen if the baby appears particularly uncomfortable. From the above teething symptoms, it can be difficult to differentiate teething from other conditions described through this passage. Whenever parents or caregivers question the origins of an infant's symptoms, they should contact their health care provider.


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