Teething—the growth of teeth through the gums in young children—is a normal process. But it can make your baby very uncomfortable. Their gums may be sore, or they may be feeling discomfort in other ways that cause them to fuss or cry. This can be a frustrating stage for parents, but knowing more about the process can help you and your child get through it more easily. Also, remember: Be patient with your baby!

What to Look For

Most babies begin teething by around 6 months of age, starting with the two bottom front teeth, followed by the two upper front teeth. Typical symptoms may include:

  • Heavy drooling
  • Chewing or biting on objects
  • Tender or swollen gums
  • Irritability or fussiness
  • Difficulty sleeping or eating

It’s important to remember that teething does not cause fever or diarrhea. Talk to your pediatrician if these types of symptoms develop.

What to Do for Your Baby

  • Gently massage your baby’s gums with a cool, damp washcloth or gauze pad to relieve discomfort.
  • Offer something to chew on, such as a firm rubber teething ring. But avoid liquid-filled teethers (which can easily break), along with teething necklaces (which can pose the threat of strangulation).
  • A chilled washcloth or teething ring can be helpful, but never give your child ice cubes/packs or place anything frozen directly against baby’s gums.
  • Provide soft, soothing foods (such as applesauce or yogurt), or let them gnaw on a bagel. Just be sure to watch your child closely, so they don’t choke.
  • Gently wipe away drool to prevent skin irritation and rashes.
  • Try over-the-counter remedies, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Teething tablets or gels should be avoided as they have not been evaluated or approved by the FDA for safety. One product found in teething gels, benzocaine, has been linked to a dangerous condition called methemoglobinemia.