The Truth About Teething

What to expect as your baby's chompers begin to sprout, plus some of our favorite sore-gum soothers.


When it Starts

Between 4 and 6 months of age, teeth begin pushing through sensitive gum tissue. As a result, your baby will likely drool more and want to chew on anything near his mouth. The first tooth, often a front bottom one, typically erupts at about 7 months, though getting a first tooth as late as 15 months is still normal, says Bill Stratbucker, M.D., a pediatrician at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich., and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Michigan State University. A full set of 20 baby teeth is generally in by 2 1/2 years.

The Real Deal on Symptoms

It's a myth that teething causes significant symptoms, according to a study reported in Pediatrics. If your baby has a fever or diarrhea or is especially irritable, don't blame teething—call your pediatrician so he can rule out illness or infection.

Remedies to Avoid

Numbing medications and teething tablets haven't been proven effective, and the former can be overdosed on. Teething biscuits may pose a choking hazard.

Fun, Safe Teethers

Massage your baby's gums with a clean finger or offer a teether. Animal studies link phthalates in some plastic teethers to reproductive problems and certain cancers, so look for silicone or rubber ones instead, such as:

John Deere Massaging Corn Teether: Your baby's bite activates a gentle buzzing. By Learning Curve ($8.50, amazon).

Raz-Berry Teether: The bumpy texture soothes gums while leaving baby's hands free to play. By RazBaby, ($4.99, amazon).

Traveling Teether Blocks: These blocks feature textured, water-filled sections for cool comfort. From Sassy, ($15.95/2, amazon).