Nurture Article | The Portland Hospital Parenting Magazine
Autumn Issue 2012 | Lucy Elkins
If a baby seems a bit cranky and a feed or nappy change doesn’t sort them out, then parents often blame their behaviour on a new tooth.
Normally, teething starts at around six months – and most children will not have a full set of milk teeth until almost the age of three.
However, the speed at which new teeth appear, varies from one child to another.
“It can be confusing for parents to know what part of a baby’s behaviour is due to teething,” says Dr Eddie Douek, a Consultant Paediatrician at The Portland Hospital.
“The problem is that it is an ongoing issue - it can take months for a tooth to finally break through.
“During this time, teething may cause a variety of symptoms.”
Here’s what to look out for:
Facial rash: The teething process causes excess dribbling and this can cause a rash on the face as the baby will tend to rub at it. “Either make sure you dab away this excess saliva or put a barrier cream around the cheeks and chin to help protect the skin,” advises Dr Douek.
Excess crying and mild fever: It can be hard to tell what is making a baby cry. But if their gums look inflamed and they are otherwise fed and changed, teething might be the issue. “Giving them Calpol can help with the pain and any fever,” says Dr Douek. “The other thing that can be beneficial is something like a teething ring to chew on and if you leave it in the freezer or fridge to chill, this can be extra soothing for the baby’s inflamed gums.”
Nappy rash: This can be the result of excess saliva going into the stomach or a change to bacteria in the gut. “This is because the area where the tooth is trying to break through is like an open wound,” says Dr Douek. “This may lead to an increase in bacteria in the mouth which will, in turn, increase the total bacterial load in the body and the bacterial balance in the gut which leads to loose stools and nappy rash.” There is little that can be done to avoid this other than ensure the baby feeds as normal and apply a barrier cream to the baby’s bottom to try and prevent or ease the nappy rash.