While most babies start teething when they’re about four to six months old, this doesn’t apply to every baby. Some babies are born with a tooth or two, while others reach their first birthday with no teeth at all. Only 1 percent of babies start teething before they’re four months old, but that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with them.
Regardless of when your baby starts teething, the emergence of teeth is usually accompanied by similar symptoms. The most common symptoms of teething include:
- Increased drooling — Drooling is normal in babies, but it tends to increase as teeth get closer to emerging. Excessive drooling can cause a rash on your baby’s chin, neck, and chest area. If your baby is drooling more than usual, fasten a bib around their neck or apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly on these areas to prevent rashes. You’ll also need to wipe their drool frequently to keep them clean.
- Irritability — Teething babies tend to become fussier than usual. This is because as teeth erupt, they erode the gums and cause discomfort. Your baby could express their discomfort by crying or whining. However, they should get used to this feeling quickly and become calmer. If your baby is too irritable, you can call your pediatrician. They can also prescribe a pain reliever or teething gel for your baby.
- Swollen gums — Since erupting teeth erode your baby’s gums before they completely emerge, it’s normal for your baby’s gums to be somewhat swollen in the days before teething. Your baby’s gums could also have small bruises or some redness. To relieve this symptom, gently rub a cool, wet cloth over their gums. Giving them some cool water in a bottle can also help soothe them.
- Decreased appetite — If your 3-month-old is teething, suckling to eat could make their gums hurt more. This could cause a decrease in their normal eating patterns while they’re teething.
- Mild fever — Teething won’t cause a high fever, but it could lead to a mild increase in your baby’s body temperature. This shouldn’t exceed 100.6 F or 38.1 C. Any fever in a 3-month-old requires a trip to the doctor, even if they’re teething. Talk to your baby's pediatrician to rule out more serious causes of fever.
Remember that teething won’t cause serious symptoms, regardless of your baby’s age. So if your child has diarrhea or a high fever, it’s time to call the doctor, even if they’re teething at the same time.
The irritability caused by teething can be stressful for new parents who are already battling postpartum symptoms, and in some cases, even postpartum depression. But the important thing you need to remember is that teething will pass, and that both you and your baby will feel better soon.
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If your 3-month-old is teething, it’s normal to wonder what that will mean for breastfeeding. When the unavoidable happens and your baby bites down on your breast, quickly take them off the breast and say a loud “Ouch!” or “No!” It may happen several times, even before their teeth fully emerge, but it will work. Be sure to use the same words and tone each time so they know you’re serious.
You also need to make sure that your baby has latched on correctly. When they’re in a good position to breastfeed, it becomes less likely that they’ll bite while eating. Position your baby so that your nipple is aimed toward the roof of their mouth. Additionally, make sure you remove them from your breast immediately after they’re done nursing.
If your baby bites you too frequently, try pumping and storing your breastmilk. Then, you can use that breastmilk to feed them later. You can also see a lactation consultant. The most important thing is that your baby is well fed and happy!
If your 3-month-old is teething, there are many items available that can help you ease their discomfort, like teething mittens and hand teethers.
Many babies like to chew their hands while they’re teething. If your 3-month-old can’t hold objects and put them in their mouth yet, a teething mitten could be the solution. You place the teething mitten over your baby’s hand, and they’ll be able to chew on it happily for hours on end, without having to hold the object itself.
Teething mittens are also great for sensory stimulation, since they feature bright colors, varying textures, and a silicone surface that will soothe their symptoms.
Hand teethers are small objects that are shaped and designed specifically to soothe your baby’s aching gums. Like their name suggests, they are shaped like hands and filled with water or another liquid. They can be placed inside the fridge, and once cool, their temperature provides extra relief for swollen gums. Their “fingers” are perfect for your baby to be able to scratch every nook and cranny of their gums safely.
Teething pacifiers are very similar to regular pacifiers, with a few modifications especially for teething babies. They’re made of silicone, which is more resistant to your baby’s bites than other materials. They also tend to feature different textures that soothe your baby’s gums while stimulating their mouths.
At the end of the day, it’s perfectly normal to have a 3-month-old teething baby. While it’s a bit earlier than expected, their teething won’t have any negative effect on the rest of their development. No matter what, your baby will be done teething soon and continue their development!