First Signs of Teething

Every baby will display a set of symptoms which are a sign that they are about to start teething. The issue here is that you don't know how long it will take for the first tooth (and others) to emerge through the gum. The signs of teething such as dribbling, drooling and ear pain can last from a few days to a few months (gulp!) before the teeth decide to put in an appearance. Keep your fingers crossed that your baby displays the first signs of teething for only a few days before the first tooth appears. But, on the other hand your little one may be dribbly, feverish and cranky for several months before any teeth appear.

It is difficult to say how long teething lasts. All babies are different and go through teething at different ages and different lengths of time. But what is certain is that the teething process does tend to last for more than a year so you might want to adopt a 'siege mentality' and stock up on teething rings, gels, dummies and other teething objects beforehand.

You might also want to stock on a few 'pacifiers'for you and your partner during this period, for example bottles of wine or brandy (purely medicinal of course!).

Are these the signs of teething or a medical condition?

It does seem to be the case that the first symptoms of teething appear a few months before the first tooth so keep an eye open for these. But also be aware that these signs can indicate a disease or illness such as cold or chest infection.

The reason we mention this is that babies are prone to infections and the symptoms of these are very similar to teething. Babies often get colds, upset tummies, skin rashes and other similar illnesses because their immune systems are still underdeveloped as compared to adults. This means that they are less able to fight off a cold or an infection which causes symptoms such as fever, sickness and diarrhoea.

Babies and children build up their immunity over time, usually from contracting a disease or illness which helps to strengthen their immune system. But they are vulnerable to start with. Their immune systems are not fully developed until the age of 6 months; but once they reach this age their systems start to produce substances called 'antibodies' which protect them against further infections. Just think back to your own childhood and how often you were ill, usually from colds, an upset stomach or diseases such as chickenpox or measles. But these illnesses helped to build up your resistance to further illnesses.

How can you tell the difference between teething and an illness?

Unless you have spent the last five years or more at medical school then it is not easy to tell the difference between the two. Many babies who are teething have a temperature, feel sick (or are actually sick), have diarrhoea and a loss of appetite. But these symptoms are also associated with a tummy upset or similar infection. If your baby has the urge to bite or chew on something which also includes your fingers then it is likely that he/she has started teething. Plus have a look inside your baby's mouth and if you notice any small swellings or what looks like a blister inside their mouth then this is also a sign of teething. As a rule of thumb: if your own little one has a high temperature, say at least 100 or 102F (or more) and severe sickness and diarrhoea then contact your GP. It is better to be safe