Teething is a stressful time for both babies and parents that generally begins between the ages of 3 to 6 months. Signs of teething, according to the Mayo Clinic, may occur up to two months before the first tooth appears. Although it isn't common, some babies may start teething at 2 months and, although rare, for some the first tooth is visible at birth. For parents who are suspicious that their baby is teething early, it is important to recognize the signs.
Although most babies drool to some degree, excessive drooling is often a sign of teething and may occur two months before the appearance of the first tooth. This may result in a rash on the baby's chin, cheeks or chest if left too long on the skin. Reduce irritation by using a bib to prevent your child's chest from getting overly wet and using absorbent sheets at night. Always wipe any excess drool with a clean, dry cloth.
A fussy or cranky baby is an indication of increased irritation or pain as the tooth begins to push its way to the surface. When this occurs at night it may result in a baby's inability to sleep. While excess crying varies from one baby to the next, if you feel that it is abnormal or that your baby is losing too much sleep, consult your doctor.
Gnawing of objects such as fingers, keys or toys often occurs as a side effect of gum irritation. Chewing and biting often occur as an effort to help relieve the gums' excess pressure. Massaging the baby's gums with a clean finger or a moist, soft cloth may help to relieve some of the discomfort that is causing the baby to chew.
Gum swelling will occur as the new tooth tries to break free of the gums. They will often have a red, irritated appearance and accompanying soreness. Rubbing a chilled, but not frozen, teething toy on your baby's gums may help soothe the soreness and reduce swelling.