Teeth don't usually appear until your baby is 6 months or later. They may show signs of teething from about 13 weeks.
Your child should have most of their 20 baby teeth by the time they are 2 and a half years old.
Signs your baby is teething
If your baby is teething they might:
- have red, flushed cheeks
- dribble - you should wipe this away from the skin folds on their neck because this can cause soreness
- chew on their fists or on their toys more than usual
- have sore and tender gums and cry more
- have a nappy rash
Contact your public health nurse or GP if your child has a raised temperature, diarrhoea or generally seems unwell. This is not caused by teething
Helping your teething baby
It's upsetting to see your baby in discomfort from teething. Comforting and playing with them will help distract them.
Here are some other ways you can help:
- try giving your baby something to chew on such as a cool teething ring
- massage your child's sore gums with a sugar-free teething gel
- use mild sugar-free pain relief if your child wakes at night and is irritable
- give cold water to drink - this helps to keep babies hydrated and may also soothe their gums
- give healthy foods to chew on, such as pieces of carrot or apple, or breadsticks - only do this if they're 6 months or older and
- stay close to your baby when they are eating in case they choke
Chewing on a teething ring can help soothe a baby’s gums as well as distract them from the pain.
Use teething rings that are big enough so your child will not choke on them. Keep a spare clean teething ring in the fridge.
Never tie a teething ring around a baby’s neck - this could strangle them.
Always check the product instructions on how long to cool the ring for. Never put the ring in the freezer as the temperature could damage your baby’s gums.
You can also use a cold wet facecloth for a baby to chew on.
Teething gels and pain relief
Sugar-free teething gels are available over the counter from the pharmacy - they contain a mild local anaesthetic which helps numb any pain. These are for babies older than 4 months.
If your baby is still in discomfort after using teething gels, consider giving them sugar-free paracetamol or ibuprofen medication for babies. Don't use Ibuprofen medication if your baby is under the age of 3 months.
Contact your GP or pharmacist for information on the safe use of gels and pain relief.
Always follow the instructions on the leaflet and the packaging. Make sure you use the right amount and only as recommended. If you are unsure, ask your GP or pharmacist.
Never use products on your baby that are meant for adults or for older children. These products are not suitable for relieving the symptoms of teething in babies.
Amber teething jewellery
The HSE recommends you never use amber teething jewellery for your baby. These can be necklaces, anklets, or bracelets.
Amber teething jewellery can choke your baby.
Never put jewellery, cords or string around your baby’s neck
Homeopathic teething products
There are some unlicensed homeopathic products sold online. These are not safe to use in young infants and babies.
Research into these products shows that they may cause serious side effects. These include difficulty breathing, seizures, agitation, excessive sleepiness, constipation and difficulty urinating.
This warning does not apply to Nelson's homeopathic teething products sold in Ireland with the brand name of ‘Teetha’.
Nappy rash and teething
Babies who are teething may get nappy rash and sore bottoms. Check your baby’s bottom and change their nappies often.
Using a barrier nappy cream may help. Leaving the baby’s nappy off for a period of time, although messy, is soothing for babies.
Teething and crying
Anything that causes your baby to cry more is difficult for you too. If you're tired and stressed, try asking for help from friends or family.
When to get medical advice
Contact your GP urgently if your baby has any of the following:
- A temperature of more than 38 degrees.
- They are lethargic and drowsy.
These symptoms are not caused by teething.
Teething may cause a mild rash on a baby’s chin or neck, but it does not cause a widespread rash.
Babies who are not drinking and not having plenty of wet nappies per day might be dehydrated.
Contact your GP for advice if you're worried about any symptoms in your baby
You can get more advice on caring for your baby's teeth from your dentist or public health nurse.