What to (really) expect with teething.

Funny thing really, babies aren’t born with a full set of teeth, or any teeth usually. An entire human baby body grows and develops over the course of 9 months, nerves, bones, organs and beautiful eyes, but somewhere in that incredible story of creation before birth, teeth are hidden away for a later date. It’s probably better that way for the Mum’s too, breastfeeding looked intense enough in the early days without teeth!

Those little teeth, while being fabulous things when it comes to cracking a smile, are also little torture trophies, for you and baby to be immensely proud of.

Thankfully, 18 months into our parenting adventure, we are now seasoned veterans when it comes to teething, Willow is now cutting her last tooth (Back upper molar) and it’s honestly overwhelmingly relieving. But it’s never been easy! There were plenty of tears, and not all of them from our baby!

If you are new to this, let me give you some advice, and if you are midway through, just hang in there, it gets better, kind of.

During the first couple of months with your new baby, it’s all pretty much sunshine-y daisy in terms of the experience, those precious first moments are supposed to be exactly that. You’ll get all the lovely leaflets and written books about this special growing and developing experience with your new baby.

If I was to collect a good amount of the material that I’ve read and learned in parenting classes that relate to every day parenting expectations, I’d be quite tempted to wrap most of it up in red tape, put in in a box and label it, Box of Lies (do not open) and send it down a riverboat burning like Viking royalty. But that’s a bit much isn’t it?

I feel like you only get about 3% of the information you need in terms of what to expect when you have a baby. From the first night at home to the first tooth to the day to day worries you encounter. It’s also almost entirely cryptic information.

Here are the NHS symptoms for teething:

  • your baby’s gum may be sore and red where the tooth is coming through
  • one cheek is flushed
  • your baby is dribbling more than usual
  • they are gnawing and chewing on things
  • they are more fretful than usual

And here’s a real life update on those terms:

  • Your Baby’s gums will probably be sore and red, but they will be too busy gnawing your knuckle off and flicking their tongue for you to get a good look in.

  • Both cheeks will be so red like they’ve just been squeezed by Auntie Wendy for 3 hours, but not quite red enough to alarm you.

  • Dribble? Ha, your baby will be soaking through bibs like the ‘cheap brand’ kitchen towel in the TV adverts, go buy a hundred bibs, that’ll do for a day or two. After that, accept the wetness is there to stay. Expect their hands, your hands and every toy to be dripping constantly.

  • Gnawing and chewing constantly is pretty accurate, I’ll give them that!

  • Slightly more ‘fretful’ than usual? Ha, basically, Willow was a lovely baby who ‘cooed’ and smiled at just about everything. While teething she pretty much had the battle cry of 1000 Spartans going into battle and play time became rarer than seeing Halley’s comet. Oh and you wont sleep, at all, not even an hour!

  • What the NHS kindly leaves off this list is possibly the most noticeable change of all. The poop. Oh you think the poo-nami of month two was bad? Bless you. The teething poops are next level stuff, I call these judgement poops, or graduation poops, because you are no longer a cute poo conneseur. These are life changing, nose burning, onesie destroying, armpit staining and bath inducing parcels of, shit.

  • Side note – maybe invest in some temporary clothes that aren’t white for this period of time (See above)

  • Rashes a-plenty, nappy rashes, face rashes, neck rashes. For some reason, tiny teeth cutting through the gums of a child disrupt everything in their body, EVERYTHING.

It’s not all as bad as it seems though, the more teeth these kids have, the better they can eat and the more adorable those smiles become. There are remedies out there that apparently make the experience easier but in my honest opinion, nothing works. You can give them Calpol, teething powder, fancy amber jewellery or try to summon the entire council of Greek gods to help, but your child is pushing teeth through uncut gums, it’s going to hurt them regardless of what you do, but do what you need to make them more comfortable!

Just remember how bad Wisdom teeth can be as an adult, imagine that pain x20 for a baby who has no concept or understanding of what’s happening or why it hurts. Give cuddles and comfort each other, you’ll all need it!

And don’t forget the dental hygiene, Willow was not a fan of the teeth brushing for a while, but it has to be done, it’s recommended as soon as the first tooth cuts through! Thankfully, she now actually really enjoys having her teeth brushed and gums tickled by the toothbrushes, so all the persevering when she tried her best to refuse it, paid off.

Teeth are probably one of the biggest causes of sleep deprivation in the parenting world. I’m with you on that one. Stock up on the coffee, the bibs, sacred ancient remedies and it’ll be over before you know it.

Don’t forget the cuddles and the comforts, whatever works for you and your baby, there are plenty of teething powders, gels and toys out there designed to help!

If you need cheering up, this video might do the trick. Willow loves it, and I think I love it more.


Join me on Instagram! @astoryfromdad

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