57442252My little girl is now eleven weeks’ old and keeps putting her hand to her mouth, biting and crying. Could it be that she is cutting a tooth?

A baby’s development is astonishingly rapid with many milestones being reached over the course of their first year. However, because every baby is different; they will achieve these developmental milestones at very different rates. Cutting their first tooth is one such milestone and while some babies will sail through the experience without difficulty, others can find it an altogether more uncomfortable and painful experience.

The development of your baby’s teeth began when they were still inside the womb (uterus). During pregnancy, tooth buds are laid down which then develop further to become the baby’s first set of teeth, commonly called the ‘milk teeth’. It is very rare for a baby to be born with a tooth (ie just one in 2000 babies) and far more usual for them to start cutting their first tooth any time between four and seven months of age, with the average age being around six months.

It does seem a little early for your daughter to be cutting her first tooth and it could be that she is merely becoming more aware of her mouth, and using, her hands and fingers to explore. However, if she is an early developer, you might notice a white tooth cap showing through her gum when she is around 12 weeks’ old. This often tends to be one of the bottom middle teeth. From the signs she is showing at the moment; it might be that she is becoming aware of some movement of a tooth currently buried under the gum, which is getting ready to cut through in the coming weeks.

Signs of teething include:

  • Putting their hand/fingers in their mouth
  • Making biting actions
  • Dribbling constantly, which can sometimes cause a rash on the baby’s face
  • Red, flushed cheeks
  • Gums that look red, swollen and sore
  • Refusing food because they find it painful to eat (this is usually when babies are being weaned onto solid foods after six months of age)
  • Being unsettled and irritable
  • Crying more than usual
  • Disturbed sleep.

It might be worth running a clean finger along the inside of your baby daughter’s gums and if you notice a slightly raised or bumpy area, this could mean that a tooth is getting ready to make an appearance. You may also find that your daughter finds it soothing if you gently rub her gums with your finger; the pressure from your finger can help to provide a balance to the pressure that she might be feeling from the buried tooth below the surface of the gum. Massaging a chilled teething gel into your daughter’s gums can also help to ease any pain or discomfort she is feeling; although if you haven’t already done so, it is important that you first check with your health visitor or GP and only use teething gels or pain relief that they recommend. It is also important to check the ingredients so that you don’t mistakenly double up on the dose and give too much. If you are concerned, you should always contact your health visitor, GP or local pharmacist for further advice.

You can also consider using a specially designed ‘teether’; this might be soft or chewy, textured or hard; many teethers have been designed to be chilled in the fridge. However, as your daughter is under one year of age, you would need to sterilise it before use. Once your daughter is older and has moved onto solids, you might also like to consider offering her teething biscuits.

Occasionally, babies who are teething may also develop a raised temperature, diarrhoea and/or vomiting. It can be very easy to automatically associate these symptoms with teething. However, if your baby develops any symptoms that worry you; always check with your GP to ensure that there aren’t any other problems that might need looking at later.

Finally, whenever that first tooth does appear, celebrate it for the milestone that it is and don’t forget to take a picture!