When your baby’s first tooth erupts and how it will affect them is somewhat of a lottery. The scale of experience is wide, from those babies that are born with a tooth, to those that take a few months for one to show through.

Some babies will breeze through, with hardly any discomfort, while others have a rough time. So, as a mommy, here’s what you need to know in order to ensure that this inevitable stage is less troublesome for you and your little one.

Signs & symptoms

Some babies will cut their first tooth without ever seeming to notice, while others will experience significant pain and discomfort. So, since no two baby’s symptoms are exactly the same, how do you know when your little one is teething?

There are couple of ‘fail-safe’ indicators that your little one is, indeed, getting a tooth. The main indicator of an impending tooth eruption is a swollen area of the gum, which can either be red or white (if the tooth is very close to the surface).

Sometimes it’s not so easy to get baby to open her mouth though, so you could also put a clean finger-tip into the mouth and have a feel. Putting a bit of pressure on the gum and rubbing it gently will help with the pain too, so if you find that baby’s mood improves straight after you’ve done this, you’re probably going to see a tooth in the next couple of days.

You may also see the following symptoms:

ñ restlessness or grumpiness

ñ more dribbling than usual. The body produces exta saliva to lubricate thier sensitive mouths

ñ lack of appetite

ñ difficulty in sleeping

ñ a rash develops on the chin because of the excess drool

ñ compulsive chewing of anything brought close to the mouth

ñ slightly elevated temperature (although anything above 38 degrees celsius will be caused by something other than teething)

ñ rubbing the cheek or ear. This is due to pain transferance and not to ear infection. Sometimes the pain of a tooth erupting will be felt in the entire jaw and into the ear on the side of the eruption.

Symptoms can start up to three days before the event, but should disappear as soon as the tooth is through. If they persist, you should seek medical attention.

The order in which they appear

The arrival of a tooth is called an eruption. Typically, teething starts around 3 months and only ends in the teens.

Most babies start teething between the ages of 4 and 7 months, and it’s usually one of the two bottom front teeth that appear first (central incisors), closely followed by its partner, the other bottom central incisor.

Next are the four teeth at the front and top, the upper central and lateral incisors. The second ‘crop’ of teeth usually take about a month or two to show up after the bottom two have erupted. (approx 8 months)

About a month after the upper central and lateral incisors, come the two teeth on either side of the two bottom teeth that came out first; these are the lower lateral incisors. (10 months)

Next it’s the turn of the first molars to make an appearance (first molars are the ones closest to the eye teeth); these are the flat back teeth that we use for grinding food. (approx 14 months)

Only after the first molars do the ‘eye’ teeth or canines appear, 2 at the top, and two at the bottom. (approx 18 months)

The last milk teeth to appear are the second molars at the top and bottom, which are the set of molars furthest from the front. (approx 2-3 years).

Care and hygiene

The care and cleaning of your baby’s teeth are important for long-term dental health. Baby teeth are as prone to decay as adult teeth, so you should start a daily dental care routine for your baby even before their first tooth emerges.

Wipe your baby’s gums daily with a clean, damp washcloth or gauze. Once your baby’s first tooth appears, start brushing using a very soft brush from. No need for toothpaste. Just a gentle brush with a soft baby toothbrush will do.

Avoid sweetened drinks, foods and sweetened dummies as soothers. Sweetened teats and bottles containing sugary drinks are the most common cause of tooth decay in children under six.

Always dilute commercial fruit juices (even those that are pure and sugar-free) with water. Fruit acids can be as corrosive as plaque. Never leave your baby to suck on a juice bottle (or a milk bottle) as a comforter, especially at night. Again, the liquid can pool in yourbaby’s mouth and cause tooth decay and plaque.

Rhubarb & Custard Dribblies bibs

Our stay-dry dribble bibs are the simple, practical, and stylish solution for soggy chests when teething.

As excess saliva builds up, your baby starts to dribble. And, without a bib, drool ends up making a regular wet patch on your baby’s neck and chest. However, Dribblies’ bandana style ensures that there is enough extra fabric under the chin that the dribble can’t escape as your baby chews on everything in sight.

And, while the absorbent top layer of cotton soaks up the wetness, the bibs’ soft polar fleece backing effectively draws the moisture away from your baby’s clothes.

Rhubarb & Custard Dribblies come in a variety of colours and designs. Available in 3-packs, 5-packs and 7-packs online and 3-packs from baby stores nationwide.

Order a pack of Dribblies before 30 April 2015 and receive R40 off – exclusive to funwithmama.com readers.

In order to take advantage of this offer, please do not order through the website, but email info@rhubarbandcustard.co.za


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10 bite-sized tips for teething

1) Symptoms of teething distress can include: dribbling, red cheeks, crying, sore ears, runny tummy, sore gums, a rash on the chin, a slightly elevated temperature.

2) Some illnesses can look like teething symptoms! Consult your doctor if you’re not sure.

3) Natural remedies include: breastfeeding, dribble bibs, put favourite teething toy in the fridge a while (not frozen), let baby chew a finger, barrier balm for chin rashes.

4) Some medical remedies include: paracetamol (never aspirin), teething powders, teething gel for babies. Speak to your pharamcist about what’s available on the market, and what they recommend.

5) Breastmilk is full of natural painkillers, so can help to soothe soreness.

6) Teething toys are great, especially if they’re cold – but don’t put any teething toy or ring into the freezer. A frozen toy is too hard and can bruise baby’s delicate gums.

7) Place teething toys in various spots around the house so that you’ll always have one to hand when needed. Wash them every day in warm, soapy water and rinse well before giving to baby.

8) Do be vigilant about what your teething baby puts in her mouth. Random items, from car keys to puzzle pieces will go in if they’re in reach. At around four to six months, a baby loses the antibodies passed on from the mother. This is also the time when they start putting anything and everything in their mouths. Many kinds of worms and bacteria can enter the body this way. (This can also be the origin of the myth that teething makes babies get sick more easily.)

9) Make sure you have plenty of dribble bibs on hand to keep baby’s neck and clothes from getting wet.

10) Above all, try to keep calm – which is no easy feat when your baby is distressed – as your mood affects your baby’s. If you have a support network, use it when the going gets tough so that you can take a break, have a long bath or walk, and unwind.

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