Teething gets the blame for many things but is it really justified? Here are a few things to think about when it comes to teething.

When babies feed well, sleep well and happily play without any problems during the day, teething is unlikely to be the cause for a disturbed night sleep.

If babies or toddlers are in a habit of waking at night, teething discomfort can make it harder for them to settle back to sleep but is generally not the cause of the waking.

Babies go through a developmental change around three to four months old. They begin to drool, put their fingers in their mouth or even try to shove their whole fist in. While drooling moistens the mouth ready for teething it is not necessarily a sign that teeth are imminent.

Babies that have a lot of dribble often cut teeth with ease and with less associated pain.

When to expect teeth

It is not uncommon for baby teeth to start showing at four months but usually it's around seven to nine months they start poking through. Occasionally, teeth don’t appear until after twelve months and although rare, some bubs are born with a tooth.

In some babies, the first sign of a tooth is when they bite down on a finger when playing or a nipple while feeding. Other babies suffer ear infections and are miserable for a few days before a tooth erupts. Baby teeth usually erupt in pairs– one appearing a few days after the other. 


This chart shows a sequence that baby teeth are expected to appear, but it is not uncommon for teeth to show up in a different order. The first teeth predicted to appear are the two lower central incisors (cutting teeth) followed by the two upper central incisors. Next are the four incisors either side. If your baby has followed this sequence they will be proudly showing off eight pearly white pegs by twelve months old.

The four back molars (chewing teeth) are next to appear and may cause a little more pain and discomfort coming through than earlier teeth. The four canines (pointy teeth) are next, followed by the other four back molars, often referred to as two year old molars. That makes a mouthful of twenty teeth by the time they are around two years old.

Baby teeth are eventually pushed out by adult teeth growing up. It’s possible for second teeth to come through decayed if baby teeth are not looked after.

Signs and symptoms of teething - all, some, or none at all!

  • grizzly and clingy
  • clear nasal discharge
  • dark pink puffy gums.
  • ear infections
  • slight fever just as teeth erupt
  • drooling
  • dry red cheeks 
  • smelly, poo
  • angry red nappy rash
  • babies and toddlers may be off solid food

Give comfort

When babies are teething you can help them feel more comfortable by:

  • giving them cold drinks and foods - use a feeding net if they are too young to handle solid food.
  • reduce the risk of biting you and their play mates by giving them something to chomp on like a large cold chicken bone, lamb bone, a cold solid teething ring, wooden toy or a slightly dampened washer that has been cooled in the freezer.
  • natural remedies such as amber necklaces, topical gels, oils, powders and mixtures that work systemically to reduce fever, pain and induce calm. Make sure you get professional instruction for how and where to use these products.
  • If your baby or toddler is having a particularly bad day and won’t be comforted by any of these suggestions, administer an anti- inflammatory or analgesic medication recommended by your local pharmacist.

Provide babies and toddlers with a healthy diet and a balanced day. This will help reduce the poor behaviour that teething often gets the blame for.

All children are different with what helps the distress of teething symptoms so keep positive while you try to find a remedy that works best for your child.

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Jan Murray has been committed to studying and working as a Registered Nurse, Midwife and Child Health Nurse for over 25 years. Jan has a bachelor of Behavioural Science, is a mother and nanna, who co-founded and directs Settle Petal. Jan provides information and support for parents to develop their knowledge base and confidence.

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