The misery of teething is basically contagious. Most parents can relate to the sleepless nights, constant crankiness, and pools of drool that seem to happen for weeks prior to a tooth cutting through. But the little spit maker is still so cute that we (the parents) do our best to survive the process and push through until the happy crawling human reappears. Maybe you are one of the lucky ones; a mom who snaps a photo for social media with the caption, “Look what just showed up! I had no idea he was teething!” I may just reach through the cyber world and slap you. I am on baby #5, and she is basically the easiest little one ever. I really have no room to complain because she is really that easy, but we haven't hit teething yet. All of my babies have been ‘late teethers,’ not cutting a tooth until 8.5-9 months old... so I have just a bit more time - or at least I hope. Each baby shows different signs of teething.
The beautiful thing about being a parent is this: You get to blame EVERYTHING on teething. I’m talking every bad hair day, the bags under your eyes, an extra cup of Starbucks, mismatched clothing, whatever. You just say “Teething” and everyone seems to just nod in sympathy. It is pretty amazing actually. I’ve been doing this for four years straight; with this many kids, someone must be teething at all times, right? I refuse to acknowledge teething is occurring until I can feel a tooth. I have learned that assuming a baby is teething is like watching a pot of water try to boil. But I understand if you are eager to see those bubbles! Remember that teething signs typically begin around 5-6 months of age, but that doesn’t mean your baby isn’t teething earlier. You may see many or none of the following signs from your baby, as every baby is different and will handle teething different.
Tell Tale Signs Your Baby is Teething
Gnawing on everything. Your baby seems to have turned into an untrained puppy and constantly has something in his mouth. The pressure on his gums feels great. Drool for days. Everything is always covered in baby spit. Onesies are changed several times a day, and burp cloths are on constant washer cycles. Your baby smells ‘off.’ That sweet, addicting baby smell is replaced with a vinegar-y smell that just isn’t what you are used to. Someone who isn’t around on a daily basis may not pick up on this at all, but you might. It is not really your baby that smells different, but the drool and poop. Change in Poop. The poop may seem mucus-y and have a change in color. It can smell like vinegar or just be ‘different.’ Rash. There may be a sudden rash around the mouth or bottom due to the excess amount of mucus and drool. This rash will be tiny red bumps, just a patch of redness or possibly (at the extreme) a thrush rash due to the moisture trapped under the chin rolls. Coughing. There may be random fits of coughing due to the excess drool. Low grade fever. The body’s natural defense to fight off any internal inflammation is to heat the body. A fever with teething is normal and shouldn’t be considered a true fever. Sleepless nights. Some babies are more aware of the pain than others, and they may not be able to sleep well as a tooth is cutting through the gums. Biting at the breast or refusing to nurse. It’s no coincidence that most women wean their babies just as teeth emerge. The swollen, sore gums, and sharp tiny teeth coming in can cause a baby to bite at the breast. This can hurt! (But remember, there are ways to help your baby not do this. It’s just a phase and will not last.) Refusing to nurse can be scary, but it is known as a ‘Nursing Strike.’ There is no need to supplement or wean your baby. You can offer sips of water to ensure hydration is occurring, but he will breastfeed when he is hungry. Ear pulling or rubbing. The ears, nose, and throat are all linked. The excess drool can cause ear pain. There may be crying – lots of crying. If your typically happy baby is crying randomly and you just cannot figure out why, he may be teething. No matter what signs you are experiencing, I feel you. From one mother to another, have a glass of wine and invest in an ergo baby carrier.