It’s not hard to tell when your baby starts teething. He or she may irritable during the day and sleepless at night. (And you might be too!) Here’s what to expect and how to keep your baby comfortable.
Your baby was born with all 20 primary teeth below their gum line. They typically start to come through between 6 and 12 months. Children usually have their full set of baby teeth in place by age 3.
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Drooling more than usual
What’s not normal?
If your baby has any of these symptoms while teething and continues to be cranky and uncomfortable, call your pediatrician.
How to Soothe a Teething Baby
Your child may have sore or tender gums when teeth begin to erupt. Gently rubbing their gums with a clean finger, a small cool spoon, or a moist gauze pad can be soothing. A clean teether for your child to chew on may also help. Look for teethers made of solid rubber, and avoid liquid-filled teething rings or plastic objects that could break.
Also, be aware of what the teethers you choose for your child are made from. Just because something is marketed as a teether doesn't always mean it's safe. In a September 2017 report, the Center for Disease Control published a case reporter of an infant who suffered lead poisoning after chewing on a bracelet. The bracelet, which the child's parents said was a homeopathic magnetic hematite health bracelet intended to help ease the child's discomfort from teething, had metal beads which contained lead.
Are Numbing Gels or Teething Tablets Safe For My Baby?
The Food and Drug Administration recommends that parents and caregivers not use benzocaine products for children younger than 2. “We are also warning that benzocaine oral drug products should only be used in adults and children 2 years and older if they contain certain warnings on the drug label," the FDA said in a May 2018 statement. "These products carry serious risks and provide little to no benefits for treating oral pain, including sore gums in infants due to teething.” Benzocaine is an over-the-counter anesthetic, which the FDA notes are usually under the product names Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel and Orabase. Benzocaine has been associated with a rare but serious—and sometimes fatal—condition called methemoglobinemia, a disorder in which the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream is greatly reduced.
The FDA also urges parents not to use – and dispose of homeopathic teething tablets – after lab testing found “inconsistent amounts of belladonna, a toxic substance, in certain homeopathic teething tablets, sometimes far exceeding the amount claimed on the label.”
“The body’s response to belladonna in children under two years of age is unpredictable and puts them at unnecessary risk,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Homeopathic teething products have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safety or effectiveness, and the agency says it is unaware of any proven health benefit of the products.
"Consumers should seek medical care immediately if their child experiences seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, or agitation after using homeopathic teething tablets or gels," the FDA states.
If you have any questions about how to relieve your child’s teething symptoms, talk to your dentist or pediatrician.