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My daughter is three months old, and I'm starting to wonder if she's teething. What would be signs that she's started to cut teeth, and is the age in the normal range for that development?

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We suspected teething at around 3 months age too, as she was whiny and tried to chew on things. We tried a cream to help soothe the gums when teething. Since this helped, we concluded that teething indeed was the problem. :-) –  Lennart Regebro May 1 '11 at 14:13
    
Yep ... definitely teething ... –  C. Ross May 1 '11 at 20:48
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6 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It is possible for a baby to teethe at any age - some babies are born with teeth. The most notable sign is... well, teeth. Do you see swollen gums or little white nubs in her gums? Those would be teeth. Excessive drooling or crying for no reason can be a little hard to identify in a 3-month-old, but you know your baby, so only you can tell what's excessive. At 3 months, they start to drool a bit more and be more vocal anyway, even if they're not teething.

I've also seen a number of babies that develop bright red cheeks as a sign that they're teething. That seems to be the one least likely to be confused with just typical baby.

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It can be hard to tell for sure because the typical signs can also be happening incidentally - like increased drooling, and/or more crying for no apparent reason.

Our son showed those signs that early too but didn't start teething until much later, so those signs were a false alarm. But when he did start teething, those signs reappeared.

There are benefits and drawbacks of early teething rather than later. Most importantly though, I think the mother will be thankful of later teething if she's breastfeeding because it can be quite painful. One benefit on the other hand is that the baby can start eating solid foods sooner, which is convenient for some parents.

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Yes, three months is in the normal range of development. As pointed our earlier, babies can teethe at any age. My daughter (same age) is also teething. In her case, the signs include:

  • frequent gum licking and finger sucking
  • using the nipple of bottles as a soother when I'm trying to feed her
  • when she's inconsolable and we suspect teething pains, she settles down quickly when giving her something to suck on (even a finger)
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A simple Google search will return most everything you want to know on the first result page.

From an article on the website whattoexpect.com:

  • Drooling. You might find that your baby's shirts are suddenly soggy. Fasten on a bib to keep her more comfortable (and cleaner), and gently wipe her chin throughout the day to stave off chapping (if that doesn't work, ask your doctor about a mild moisturizer such as Aquaphor or even Lansinoh nipple cream). Pooling saliva may also cause a slight cough or even trigger the gag reflex. If she's otherwise healthy, you can safely ignore both.

  • Gnawing. She's not trying to be naughty. Little nips at your fingers, breast (ouch!), or her spoon help relieve the pressure she feels from under her gums.

  • Crying. Some babies breeze through teething with nary a whimper, while others suffer from a good deal of pain — which they feel compelled to share with you in the form of whining or crying. Talk to your doctor about when to administer pain relievers such as infant acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

  • Fasting. Since sucking movements can worsen teething pressure or pain, your baby may refuse to nurse or eat, or may nurse briefly and then turn away. Keep at it, and call your pediatrician if the strike lasts more than a few days.

  • Waking. Especially when she's working on cutting that very first tooth, your baby may fuss during the night as well as during the day, so be prepared for a little extra crib-side duty for a while.

From the Teething Wikipedia article:

Common symptoms include drooling or dribbling, mood changes and feelings of irritability or crankiness and swollen gums. Crying, sleeplessness, restless sleep at night, and mild fever are also associated with teething. Teething can begin as early as 3 months and continue until a child's third birthday. ... Some of the signs or symptoms that a baby has entered the teething stage will be actions that are noticeable. They may chew on their fingers or toys to help relieve pressure on their gums. Babies might refuse to eat or drink due to the pain. ...Teething has not been shown to cause fever or diarrhea.

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3 months is on the early side but not too early. WebMD has a good description of teething here.

My baby will be very fussy, refuse food, prefer her bottle/sippie over solids, not sleep well, will randomly have sudden bursts of severe crying out of nowhere, make weird faces and work her jaw a bit from time to time, drool a lot and chew on things pretty strongly. However, she will not let us stick our fingers in her mouth for anything.

However, I should caution you that some of these signs of teething are also signs of an impending developmental milestones. We've had several false alarms where we thought a tooth was incoming but as it turned out, our baby started sitting, crawling, or trying to walk or talk. At 3 months, your baby may be trying to roll over, starting to prefer certain people, developing her ability to grab things, and is understanding language more and more. Babycenter has some great descriptions of everything your baby may be starting to do. Even one of those things is a LOT and can cause the baby to be completely thrown off, scared, fussy, etc.

Good luck!

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Teething is a process and a child may be "teething" for months before teeth actually emerge. A child's behavior may truly be reflecting teething discomfort and be read as a "false alarm" because the tooth is forming and remains below the gum. The answers above thoroughly cover the symptoms and these apply whether teeth are seen promptly or not.

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