As much as you love your baby's toothless grin, you're going to go nuts when his first tooth pops in--anywhere between 4 and 8 months. It will most likely be one of his two bottom front teeth. (While there can be all sorts of variations, most babies get their teeth two at a time, in this order: lower central incisors; upper central incisors; lower and upper lateral incisors; first molars; canines; second molars.) While your baby's dental debut is going on), it'll help to have a few things on hand to a) help him feel better if it hurts; and b) start taking care of those precious pearly whites.
- Choose a teething a ring or toy that your baby can bite against, but that isn't too firm. Gel-filled ones are great, because you can stick 'em in the fridge: The cold plus the pressure of biting down is especially soothing to sore gums. (A note of caution: Don't put teethers in the freezer: A rock-hard hunk of plastic will be more hurtful than helpful to sore gums.)
- TOPICAL PAIN RELIEVERS
- You can rub one of these liquids or gels directly on the part of the gum where a tooth is about to break through (it may look a little red and swollen). Be sure to buy a product that's made for babies--not an adult formulation.
- No, you don't have to set a timer and spend two solid minutes scrubbing away at your baby's handful of teeth twice a day. But you should get into the habit of brushing what he's got as soon as they start to come in--in large part to get him used to it. Brush-wise, you've got a few choices: You can go with a silicone or rubber gadget that's curved to fit around each tooth; or you can simply buy a baby toothbrush. It will say on the package that it's for infants--and should have a small enough head to fit in your child's mouth comfortably, super soft bristles, and a handle that you can get a grip on.
- It's not really necessary, but toothpaste made just for babies usually tastes pretty yummy to them, and might make your little one more cooperative. Be sure to only use a toothpaste that has no fluoride: It'll be a few years before your child can rinse and spit, and swallowing a lot of fluoride can be harmful.
- One more thing: If your child is absolutely miserable when a tooth is coming in, do all you can to help him feel better--and that includes piling on the hugs and cuddles. He'll feel better--and you'll enjoy some sweet moments with your baby to boot.