Teething is often viewed as a milestone in infant development. By the time the first little teeth emerge, the early, exhausting days of newborn care have settled into a fairly predictable rhythm. Many parents are apprehensive about potential changes in their baby’s behaviour when they start to teethe. “Can I expect my baby to wake more through the night”? “How do I prepare for hours of holding and soothing”? These and other concerns can plague the most confident of parents.
For most babies, teething does not deserve the bad wrap it gets. Many just grow through the stages of tooth eruption without too much drama or changes in their daily routine. It’s fair to say though, that some babies do become a little more miserable when they’re teething, and need extra soothing and tenderness. Knowing what to do at these times can help.
As special and unique as every baby is, there are many universal truths when it comes to teething. The pattern of tooth eruption, typical signs of teething and what’s reasonable to expect, are popular areas of interest. It’s useful for parents to know what to look for as teeth get ready to push their way through the gums and then emerge in all their shining glory.
It’s easy to fall into negative habits over the course of teething. Many parents find themselves resorting to strategies which provide quick relief from teething symptoms, such as cuddling or feeding to sleep, co-sleeping and snack feeding. Knowing what’s fair to expect and provide in terms of care can really help to avoid problems continuing long after the teeth have erupted.
Teething symptoms can mask other problems such as illness or overtiredness. “It’s teething” is the default response at those times when it’s hard to know why a baby is fussing. It’s impossible to know with 100% accuracy why babies behave as they do. Parenting is not an exact science, and even the most sensitive and attuned parents can struggle to find reasons why their baby is fussing.
Ruling out illness is an important strategy when assuming teething is to blame. What to look for, and what symptoms warrant a doctor’s check, can be both reassuring and important. Tired, exhausted parents are often not in the best position to make objective assessments of their baby’s needs. This is why it’s useful to have a checklist of symptoms which are not generally teething related.
Some babies are actually born with a tooth. This interesting phenomenon occurs in around 1 in every 2000 births. By far the majority of babies get their first tooth at around six months of age, with some as early as four months. Every baby will have their own individual teething rates and stages – some take their time with every new little tooth to emerge and others, have multiple teeth erupting like little mushrooms all at one time. There can be long breaks between teeth erupting through the gums, followed by a period of time making up for the pauses.
Knowing what to expect and what to look for with your baby’s teething can help to boost your own confidence and enjoy this interesting stage of your baby’s development.
Because teething, like most other ages and stages of your baby’s maturity, will happen no matter what you do. It makes sense to just sit back and enjoy this time.
Always speak and check with a qualified nurse or healthcare professional about your baby to understand what your baby’s individual needs are.
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