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Well-baby care

  • Find a health care provider for your baby.
  • Take your baby for regular checkups, even if he’s not sick.
  • Make sure your baby gets all her vaccinations.


Your baby’s first tooth is an exciting milestone!

Most babies get their first tooth when they’re around 6 months old. But teething can start as early as 3 months. Teething is when your baby’s teeth come through the gums for the first time. The two front teeth on top or bottom usually come in first. Most children have all 20 of their baby teeth by time they are 3 years old.

What are signs and symptoms that your baby is teething?

Some babies have no trouble with teething. Other babies may feel pain for a short time. And others may be fussy for weeks because of teething pain.

Signs and symptoms of teething include:

  • Being cranky
  • Chewing on something hard
  • Crying
  • Drooling
  • Fever with temperature less than 101F
  • Stomach ache
  • Swollen gums or gums that hurt when they’re touched

Call your baby’s health care provider if your baby seems sick, seems to be in constant pain, or has a temperature higher than 101F. These signs may mean that something else is wrong.

How can you help your baby feel better during teething?

To help your baby feel better:

  • Give her something to chew on, like a rubber teething ring, a cold spoon or a cold washcloth. Chewing on these things can help ease pain. Clean these items to avoid infection. Some parents find that a chilled teething ring lessens their baby’s pain. If you chill your baby’s teething ring in the freezer, take it out when it’s cold but before it becomes really hard. A frozen solid teething ring can hurt a baby’s tender gums.
  • Rub her gums with a clean finger to help with the pain. But don’t give your baby any pain medicines and don’t rub any medicines or alcohol on her gums. Some medicines can harm your baby if she swallows too much. Other medicines wash out of the mouth before they can help with pain.
  • Wash any drool off her face to avoid development of a rash.

Last reviewed August 2012

Your baby's shots

Find out which shots your baby will need to keep her safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do vaccines work?

Tiny organisms (like viruses and bacteria) can attack your body and cause infections that make you sick. When you get an infection, your body makes special disease-fighting substances called antibodies to fight the organism. In many cases, once your body has made antibodies against an organism, you become immune to the infection it causes. Immune means you are protected against getting an infection. If you're immune to an infection, it means you can't get the infection.

Vaccines usually have a small amount or piece of the organism that causes an infection. The organisms used in vaccines are generally weakened or killed so they won’t make you sick. The vaccine causes your body to make antibodies against the organism. This allows you to become immune to an infection without getting sick first.

Some vaccines have a live but weakened organism. These are called live-virus vaccines. While live-virus vaccines are usually safe for most babies and adults, they’re not generally recommended for pregnant women.

See also: Vaccinations and pregnancy, Your baby’s vaccinations

When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?

As soon as your baby's first tooth appears, start brushing with water. Later, when she is old enough to spit, introduce toothpaste. When you use toothpaste, make it a small (pea-sized) amount of a non-fluoride brand. Don't use a toothpaste with fluoride until your child is 2 years old, unless recommended by her dentist. Don't give her fluoride mouth rinses until she's 6. Start flossing as soon as two teeth start to touch each other.

So when should you actually take her to the dentist? The American Dental Association recommends that your baby get her first dental visit within 6 months of getting her first tooth and no later than her first birthday. The dentist checks the shape of your baby's mouth, teeth and gums and looks for signs of damage caused by thumb sucking. Maintaining dental health early can help protect your baby's teeth for a lifetime.

Have questions?

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