How To Recognize the Early Signs of Teething

Latest update: January 11, 2019

Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD
Medical fact-check: Dr Leah Alexander, M.D., F.A.A.P.

Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Use the symptom checklists below to recognize the signs of teething early on. The signs are usually easy to spot but also easily confused with other issues. Most symptoms are mild and typically concur with other common baby sleep problems.

Good to know is that babies are usually easily consoled when having teething pain. This is different from other possible sleep disturbers such as for example pain from an ear infection.

And not all babies show all symptoms. Some show none at all and will simply surprise you with that shiny first tooth one day.

Baby teething with flushed cheeks photo courtesy by flash.pro

You may only notice that your baby suddenly stops sleeping through the night with no obvious reason. Then one day you discover the first tooth ... and she goes right back to sleeping well.

Or ... your baby may be the classroom example and suffer from all possible teething symptoms.

In any case, once you know when and what to look for, you will be better prepared ... and manage to avoid sleep troubles.

When can you expect the first signs of teething?

And once it's happening, which remedies are efficient?

Teething signs to look out for

There are three types of symptoms:

1. In and near baby's mouth - most typical of teething

  • Dribbling
  • Flushed cheeks
  • Skin rash or chapped skin around the mouth
  • Urge to put fingers in her mouth
  • Urge to bite or chew on everything around
  • Sore red gums
  • Whitish gum spots
  • You can feel a tooth (gently touch with a clean finger)
  • A blueish color on an area of the gums (due to a molar erupting near a vein which causes discoloration)

2. Body

  • Runny nose
  • Slightly raised temperature (but no fever)
  • Diaper rash
  • Touching or pulling the ears (there is a nerve running from the ear to the chin leading many babies to feel teething pain in their ears. This ear tugging is also typical for an ear infection so it's best to double-check this with your doctor to make sure it's only teething)

3. Mood

  • Cranky, irritable
  • Restless
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Unexplained crying
  • Less appetite

The in and near baby's mouth ones are clearly the most typical signs of teething. The other symptoms can also occur when your baby has a cold, a viral infection, suffers from fungal infection, etc. But if they happen in combination with some discomfort around the mouth they can point to teething.

Now that you know when and what to look for, you're well prepared to face this important milestone in your baby's development using effective teething remedies.