Stages of teething

Stages of teething

There are five stages that a child goes through when teething, each of which usually lasts for quite a substantial period of time. This can be quite a gruelling time for children and parents alike, but the good news is that it doesn't last forever.

Being well informed about what you will have to endure as a parent and what your child will experience is important, not just for your own sanity, but also to support and comfort your child throughout the various stages of this process.

The five stages of teething include:

Stage 1 (0-6 months): When a baby is born they already have twenty primary teeth located just beneath the gums. These are commonly known as 'milk teeth' due to the fact that this is the phase during which an infant's diet is predominately made up of milk.

Stage 2 (6-8 months): This stage entails the very first teeth breaking through the gums. The bottom and top front teeth, known as the central incisors, will usually start to break through first from around the 6th month and will then be followed by those along the sides and back.

Just before these teeth cut through the gums, their uneven edges thrust upwards against them and can be seen and felt just below the surface. This will most likely result in your baby beginning to chew on anything in sight, for example their hands, teething toys and other hard objects. Placing gentle pressure on the gums tends to pacify a child as it helps to ease the discomfort experienced. When teething, a baby will often drool excessively and so ensuring that you have bibs close at hand is key in keeping the chin and neck areas dry. This is important because if the chin and neck areas are continually damp due to the presence of drool, this can cause a rash which will be very uncomfortable.

Stage 3 (10-14 months): Be prepared to have your little one up his or her game in terms of being grumpy at during this time. This stage is when the primary molars start to break through.It's very similar to stage 2 in terms of symptoms, but there is usually an escalation in the production of saliva and resulting drool as well as general grouchiness. Your baby will continue to put things into his or her mouth in an attempt to alleviate the pain. It's natural for your little one to not want to eat at this stage, so don't fret about this – it's very common. Your baby may also feel warmer than usual and have an upset tummy, however if a fever or diarrhoea develops, a doctor's visit will be in order to have him or her checked out.

Babies also often have more irregular sleep patterns during this stage, so be prepared for those sleepless nights as a parent. If you notice that your child is experiencing extreme pain, it's best to seek the help of a paediatrician that can assist with alleviating this symptom.

Stage 4 (16-22 months): The canine teeth appear at this stage (these are found amongst the molars and incisors – top and bottom). Following the same guidelines mentioned above for stages two and three will assist you in keeping your baby as comfortable as possible.

Stage 5 (25-33 months): This is the part that teething nightmares are made of – for some parent's anyway. For most children this is the most excruciating stage of teething, largely because it is when the secondary molars breakthrough the gums and make a stand. These are the largest of all the teeth and as a parent you may find that you have tried every single calming and pain alleviating remedy there is, often to no avail. Some parents find that giving their toddler a hard, cold vegetable to nibble on will help – even if only for a short time, experiment and find what works for your baby. When giving your child anything to suck or check on, always monitor them closely to prevent any choking hazards. If choking inadvertently occurs at any time, follow these steps on how to care for an infant who is choking.

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