Teething is a term that describes the eruption of teeth from a baby's gums. Typically, the first teeth will appear between the ages of 4 to 7 months. The baby teeth can appear singly or several at a time may break through the gum line. The process of teething will continue until the child is 3 years old and has the full set of 20 baby teeth. A child's eating patterns may fluctuate along with teething.
Teething can be uncomfortable and cause drooling, biting behavior, fussiness and lack of interest in solid food. Your baby may also have a slight fever as the tooth breaks through. although a temperature over 101 degrees is probably not connected to teething and should be evaluated by your health-care provider. Generally, symptoms of teething are mild, occur off and on throughout the day, and last two to three days.
As your baby's teeth erupt, you may notice that the gums are slightly swollen and reddened. Your baby may gum on his toys more frequently, drool more than usual and pull away if you try to massage the gum line. Solid foods may be uncomfortable to gum on, and softer foods or liquids may be better tolerated at this time.
Some teeth may take days to a week to erupt, while others may break through overnight with little discomfort. A temporary lack of interest in food because of discomfort is not a problem as long as your baby is taking in enough fluids. Offer the bottle or breast frequently throughout the day. Monitor for dehydration, which is indicated by the absence of a wet diaper for more than six hours, dark-colored urine, and dry mouth and tongue. Contact your health-care provider if you notice these symptoms.
Offer your baby cool teething rings to counteract the pain and pressure he is feeling from the emerging tooth. This will temporarily ease his discomfort and may help him to eat normally. You may also use over-the-counter products that can numb the gum line when rubbed around the emerging tooth. A liquid infant pain reducer may also provide temporary relief of the symptoms so that your baby can tolerate solid foods.