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Your Baby's First Tooth: What to Expect

Tania K. Cowling

Do you see a white bud that could be your baby's first tooth? Between four and six months of age, your little angel will begin teething. This is an exciting milestone, but sometimes it can turn your little one's smile upside down, as erupting teeth can be uncomfortable. This rite of passage is a time to collect tips on teething and begin thinking about your child's dental care.

Baby's First Tooth

Even when your baby's mouth is all gums, it's not too early to start planning their dental care. At bath time, try wrapping your finger in a clean, wet washcloth or a cotton gauze square and gently rub your child's gums. This can stimulate the gums and get you both in the habit of daily oral cleaning. You may find that your child begins drooling and mouthing everything in sight. Keep a damp cloth available to wipe his/her chin to prevent irritation or a rash from forming. Having your child wear a small bib will keep his/her clothing dry too. Before long, you will begin to see the baby's first tooth, usually beginning with the lower front pair. Teeth tend to come in sets of two, so look for another pair on top next.

How to Tame the Teething Soreness

The initial clue that teeth are on the way may be changes in your baby's behavior, such as fussiness or sleeplessness. The teething process usually lasts from six months to three years of age, with the first teeth eruptions being the worse. It's possible that babies just get used to what teething feels like after the first teeth arrive. One of the best things parents can do is give their teething child something safe to chew on. Teething rings that are chilled in the freezer are helpful, as the hard surface feels good against the baby's gums and the ice has a numbing effect. Even a cold washcloth can be used to rub over the gums.

If these home remedies don't help your child and he begins to run a slight temperature, check with your pediatrician about giving your child infant-strength acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

With Teeth Come Table Foods

As teeth begin to erupt, a baby's first food can be introduced as well. Up until now, most babies are nursing or given formula with maybe a little rice cereal mixed in. Cold or chilled foods can be offered like unsweetened applesauce, yogurt or prepared baby foods to help alleviate the teething process. Strained foods come next. As he/she begins to get teeth, your child may be comfortable experimenting with new textures in foods. Begin serving him/her tiny bites of soft foods, such as unsalted mased potatoes, bananas, oatmeal, macaroni, and well-cooked vegetables (carrots, peas and sweet potatoes). For protein, cut food into small, tiny pieces so they can pick it up with their hands like chicken, small bites of hard-boiled eggs and moist pork. Choose your baby's first food carefully, picking ones that are easy to handle and don't present a choking hazard.

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