baby teethingSimilar to adults, babies generally handle pain in a different way to each other. That means that some will just giggle right through the teething process, while others are thoroughly troubled by the on-going occasion. Most babies however, suffer lengthy periods of irritability and grouchiness.

When do babies start teething?

When do babies start teething? The first symptoms of teething often appear weeks or even months prior to the first tooth appearing, so it is sensible to be on the look-out for a particular set of symptoms just to be sure that those specific symptoms are actually related to teething.

While it is true that most parents will agree that some or even all of the symptoms given below did occur at or around the time of teething, it is still highly recommended that you ask your paediatrician in order to be able to rule out any other reasons for the symptoms, even more so should your baby be suffering from a fever, where the body temperature rises above 39°C (102°F), and/ or the child appears to be more lethargic than usual and unwell.

Possible teething symptoms

  • Drooling: your baby may begin to drool more than usual at three or four months of age. It’s a fact that drooling is stimulated through teething, which tends to be worse for some babies than for others.
  • Irritability: your baby’s gums may well become increasingly painful as the new teeth get closer to the gums’ surface, which in turn can lead to crying and irritability.
  • Chin rashes: should your baby suffer from heavy drooling, due to the continual contact between the skin around the chin as well as the mouth, the skin may well show signs of irritation. Gently wipe the baby’s chin and mouth from time to time throughout the day in order to reduce the chances of skin chapping and rash formation.
  • Coughing: an increase in saliva does not merely cause drooling, but can also encourage coughing and gagging. Really, there is little to worry about, other than if there are signs of a cold or flu developing, or if your baby is feverish. Should that be the case, then it’s best to consult with your doctor.
    [pullquote align=”normal”]Your doctor can help rule out more serious causes for early or late teething so have your baby checked out if you are concerned. [/pullquote]
  • Gnawing and biting: gnawing and gumming down can be a symptom of a baby teething. This occurs because the act of putting pressure on the lips can help to relieve the pain of the pressure on the gums caused by the growing teeth so in essence, it numbs the pain. You can purchase teething aids which are perfectly safe and also can be effective at controlling gnawing and gumming.
  • Diarrhea: when a baby is teething, it’s also common for them to suffer from diarrhea, or at least a looser bowel movement than is normal. The Children’ss Hospital in Australia conducted a recent study whereby diarrhea and a loose bowel movement were found to be a very common symptom of the teething process. Nevertheless, many doctors disagree with these findings, preferring to discount diarrhea as a symptom. It’s possible that the cause for diarrhea and loose bowel movements is actually to do with the fact that more saliva is swallowed, which then become a factor as to why the stool is looser. Should your baby suffer from diarrhea for any longer than three to four bowel movements, you should consult with your doctor.
  • Ear tugging and cheek rubbing: gum pain can spread to the cheeks and ears, even more so once the back molar teeth begin to appear. This is the reason why you may witness your child tugging at their ears, and rubbing their cheeks. However, do keep in mind that tugging the ears could also be a sign that there is an ear infection, particularly so if accompanied by fever. If that is the case, a consultation with the doctor is appropriate.
  • Lack of sleep: your child may be waking up more regularly than previously throughout the night. Most parents agree that this happens much more regularly when the molar teeth are starting to come through.
  • Low-grade fever: fever, for obvious reasons, is a symptom that doctors are hesitant to directly relate to teething. Nevertheless, many babies do suffer a low-grade fever during the teething process. Should the baby’s temperature rise above 39°C (102°F), or should the temperature remain higher than normal for over two days, you should notify your doctor.
  • Symptoms of a cold: cold-like symptoms may be displayed by a baby when they are going through the teething process. Coughing, runny nose, and normal cold symptoms are considered to be potentially related to frequent hand-to-mouth contact, which is in actual fact an attempt to alleviate pain. If cold-like symptoms persist for over three days, you should consult with your doctor.

What About Late Teething?

Late teething in an infant is usually defined as teeth coming in after the age of 13 months. Many people worry that late teething could be a sign of a bigger issue, but it is often nothing to worry about since every baby is different when it comes to milestones. A teething schedule could be affected by various factors, including genes, nutrition, or a medical condition.

Like any other milestones, some babies are just naturally late bloomers. This is especially true of infants whose older siblings and parents were the same way. A parent who did not cut their first tooth until well after a year old should therefore not be surprised when his baby experiences late teething, as well.

In addition, some children will stop teething for a few weeks or months and this is quite normal. If a child is developing well otherwise you should not worry.

But in some cases, a child with no teeth by 18 months has poor nutrition. Typically, though, there are other warning signs of this condition aside from a lack of teeth. A baby that is underweight for his age and appears to have smaller, weaker limbs than expected should be checked out by a pediatrician. Some nursing babies do not get enough breast milk and need to supplement with formula in order to stay in the target weight range for their age. It is crucial that they get enough vitamin A, C, D, phosphorus, and calcium in order to form healthy teeth, so a diet lacking these nutrients may contribute to late teething.

There are some medical conditions that can result in a delayed teething schedule, but they also often come with other symptoms, as well. For example, hypothyroidism involves a thyroid that is under active, often resulting in fatigue, joint stiffness and headaches, to name a few symptoms. Late teething, birth weight of more than eight pounds (3.6 kg), delayed walking, and late talking could all be early signs of hypothyroidism in an infant.

In Summary

The teething process often follows on with regards to hereditary patterns. Thus, if the father and/or mother suffered from teething issues, it’s very possible that the baby will also suffer. When do babies start teething? Generally the first tooth arrives around the seventh month, although for some babies, it may be as soon as the third month, or perhaps even earlier. Some children will develop teeth later, and some will be teething intermittently. Thus the teething process can begin shortly after birth, although more often it’s a few months later on.

And remember, your doctor can help rule out more serious causes for early or late teething so have your baby checked out if you are concerned.

About the Author

Barbara is the founder and owner of She is a former research scientist with a serious passion for health. She enjoys writing about nutrition, wellness and lifestyle and empowering people to take control of their health.

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