Father and his small toddler son in a bathroom brushing their teeth

Do Baby Growth Spurts Affect the Development of Teeth?

You may feel like you're just getting into the swing of things with your newborn baby when you learn that they're about to go through some pivotal growth spurts. Baby growth spurts are short periods, usually lasting two to seven days, when a baby quickly gains weight and height.

These occurrences aren't directly related to the development of a baby's teeth, but if your child has a growth spurt while teething at the same time, you're likely to have a fussy baby on your hands! Let's go over the common side effects of growth spurts to keep an eye out for, how to soothe a baby who's growing and teething, and how best to care for baby teeth once they erupt.

Side Effects of Growth Spurts

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, growth spurts mostly occur when a baby is two to three weeks old, around six weeks old, and again, approximately three months. During a growth spurt, it's normal for babies to want to nurse all the time. If you are breastfeeding, try to avoid feeding your baby any other liquids or foods. They suggest breastfeeding as the only food your baby needs for about the first six months.

Baby growth spurts also commonly occur at six and nine months of age, when you can start feeding your baby other liquids and foods. Besides an uptick in hunger, other common signs of a growth spurt in your baby include the following:

  • Fussiness or irritability
  • Sleeping a lot more than usual during the day
  • Not being able to sleep at night.

Growth Spurt or Baby Teeth?

Fussiness and sleeplessness are common signs of teething. Still, unlike a growth spurt, babies sometimes lose their appetite during this stage of growth. Kids usually develop their first teeth between four and six months, with the two bottom middle teeth (central incisors) generally appearing between six and 10 months. The upper central incisors usually emerge between eight and 12 months.

Between the ages of nine and 13 months, according to the American Dental Association, the teeth to the right and left of the center incisors (also known as lateral incisors) develop, usually starting with the top teeth. The first molars typically appear between 13 and 19 months, with the teeth between the lateral incisors and first molar (called canines or cuspids) coming in between 16 and 23 months. The last teeth to come in are the lower and upper second molars, between 23 and 33 months.

Calming a Fussy Baby

Based on the standard times for growth spurts and teething, a baby between six and 12 months can go through both at the same time. One way to help a teething baby is to something firm to chew on, such as a clean teething ring. While it would be ideal to experience teething or a growth spurt separately, they sometimes happen at the same time! Calming a fussy baby who's feeling the discomfort of their baby teeth pushing up to the surface can be a challenge, especially if they weather a growth spurt at the same time.

For fussiness, try distracting your baby with play. Rocking your baby in a chair, swing, stroller, or car seat are great ways to soothe your baby with motion. Background noise, such as a fan, white noise machine, or music, helps some children. For more suggestions, talk to other parents who have dealt with growth spurts and teething, as well as their pediatrician or dental professional. Even if you're feeling frazzled, remember that this phase is temporary!

Caring for Baby Teeth

Both the ADA and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that you start to clean your baby's teeth as soon as they appear. You can use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush that's made for babies and brush gently with a smear of fluoride toothpaste – an amount the size of a grain of rice – until your child reaches the age of three.

It can be alarming to watch your baby experience growth spurts just as you feel you're getting into a good feeding or sleep schedule. But consider this time with your baby as precious; it goes by fast! Even though teething and growth spurts happening simultaneously can be a lot to deal with at once, it's an exciting time for watching your baby grow, begin to develop their own unique personality, and slowly see their first tooth-filled smile appear!

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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