One of the common conversations in baby classes is around teething. It can be a really tough time for both parents and babies, so figuring out if your baby is teething is helpful for knowing how best to help them.
Most babies start teething around 6 months but of course there is quite a bit of variability with first teeth appearing anytime from 4-12 months. For some parents this can mean quite a wait for those first teeth to pop through, and constant thoughts of teething if you see other babies with a few teeth while yours still has their gorgeous gummy smile.
There are quite a few possible signs of teething but some of these are just normal developmental things that babies do which can add to the confusion.
Around 3-4 months babies discover their hands! They stare at them and they chew them. And teething babies chew, so is this sudden chewing of hands or anything else your baby can get hold of teething?
Of course it is possible, but also it could just be that your baby loves sucking their hands now (sucking being calming) and the way babies learn is to put things in their mouth.
At this age babies also produce a lot more saliva – dribbly baby = teething? Again it does happen but also it could just be the increased saliva production soaking the bibs.
4ish month old babies are also having a bit of a tough time, there is a growth spurt which might mean more night waking and your baby seeming a bit more unsettled in the day as they want to feed more. They are learning lots of new skills, holding things, maybe rolling or trying to roll and they are much more aware of the world around them. Some babies can get quite frustrated – trying to move when they aren’t ready for example and seem to be a but grumpy.
All these changes means they will need more reassurance and want more time close to you. Fussy, unsettled = teething? Not necessarily.
And then sleep. 4 months is often a big one for sleep. For lots of parents it feels like this is where it all goes wrong. You had found your rhythm and suddenly your baby is waking more in the night, or staying awake for longer. It’s a combination of the growth spurt and all the amazing development. When better to practice your rolling or blowing raspberries than 3am?
So how do you differentiate a baby showing all the ‘normal’ signs of a 4 month old – chewing, dribbling, clingy, waking more with a teething baby?
Teeth usually appear after 4-5 days of teething so if your baby is showing signs for longer then chances are it isn’t their teeth.
Other things commonly seen are a slight fever, rosy cheeks particularly one side and ear rubbing. You might also see a red gum or be able to feel a hard lump where the tooth is close to the surface.
If your baby is teething you might not need to do much other than offer comfort and cuddles. You might try some teething toys, some can go in the fridge for some cool relief or you might feel you need to try some pain relieving medicines. You can use calpol or gels that rub onto the gums or some homeopathic remedies that do seem to work well for some babies.
If you aren’t sure and your baby is around 4 months it is more likely that it is just where they are in their development right now, but teething will be with you before you know and it’s a sad goodbye to gummy smiles.