Teething is one of those great milestones in your child’s development. But it can also come with it’s own set of troubles. That’s why we’ve invited Dr Sarah Brewer to answer some of your questions.
Q: How can I tell if my baby’s teething?
A: A baby’s first tooth tends to appear around the age of 6 months. He or she will usually start to dribble, rub their gums and cheeks and may want to chew a lot. The first teeth tend to come through easily without much pain – it’s the first molars cut around the age of 14 months that prove most uncomfortable. You can find more information on symptoms at: http://www.teething-babies.co.uk/teething-process/teethingsymptoms.php
Q: My baby is 13 months old and still doesn’t have any teeth – is something wrong?
A: Don’t worry, every baby is different and develops at a different rate. My first baby didn’t cut a tooth until the age of 13 months – and has lovely strong teeth now he’s ten years old!
Q: What happens if the teeth come in, in a different order to the one mentioned in the teething chart?
A: As every baby is different and develops at a different rate, no two babies are the same. The chart is a guide to the most common ages and order in which first teeth arrive, but it is quite normal for a baby to follow their own teething plan! It really doesn’t matter, as long as you start caring for the teeth as soon as they appear.
Q: My little girl is only 4 months old and I think she started teething a couple of weeks ago but it seems to have got worse. As she is still under 6 months what the best things we can offer her for the pain?
A: The simplest way to relieve pain is to rub on a teething gel containing a local anaesthetic to help numb the gum where a tooth is coming through. This can be reapplied every 3 hours as necessary. Keep wiping the dribble from her chin so she doesn’t get sore, and give her hard rusks or a teething ring to chew on. Offer her lots of reassuring cuddles to help her settle, too.
Q: My daughter grinds her teeth and I’m worried she will wear them down. How can I stop her doing this?
A: In children, teeth grinding (known as bruxism) can be due to discomfort as teeth are coming through. A child may also grind their teeth if the feel stressed, but it is more often due to an allergy, an ear infection or a common cold. If he or she shows symptoms of allergy (excess mucus, sneezing, red itchy eyes, runny nose) see your doctor. If she is otherwise well and it continues, see your dentist for advice.
Q: My baby has just started to teethe but I’m worried about caring for his first teeth. When should I brush them?
A: Clean each tooth as soon as it appears by wrapping a clean, non-fluffy flannel around your finger and gently rubbing the teeth and gums to wipe away plaque. Alternatively, you can use a soft toothbrush especially designed for a baby’s mouth. Clean after breakfast and last thing at night. More tips are available at: http://www.teethingbabies.co.uk/caring-for-first-teeth/teeth-tips.php
Q: I’m having problems trying to get my son to eat normal food. He tends to drink 2 bottles of milk a day and about 4 – 6 bottles of juice. I’ve tried all sorts of food but he won’t eat them. He will only eat tea. He won’t eat any breakfast and has a couple of bites at dinner time. Is there any advice you could give me to help this situation?
A: When weaning a baby, start introducing a little soft food such as:
- low fibre cereals eg baby rice, baby porridge
- soft fruit and cooked vegetables eg puréed apple or carrots
- puréed soft meats and pulses (eg chicken, beans)
- cows’ milk products eg yoghurt, fromage frais, custard, cheese sauce
Once your baby easily accepts food from a spoon two or three times a day, he usually needs 500 – 600ml breast or formula milk per day plus:
- starchy foods two or three times a day eg wholemeal bread, toast, cereals
- fruit and vegetables at least twice a day (eg mashed banana, peeled apple slices, fingers of raw carrot)
- soft, cooked mince, puréed meat or fish, pulses or chopped, hard-boiled eggs once a day for protein
- cows’ milk products eg yoghurt, fromage frais, custard, cheese sauce plus hard cheese as a finger food
Keep offering different foods for him to try, and if you are still concerned have a word with your health visitor.