Thursday, June 9, 2011


I lost my first tooth when I was four years old. I lost my last tooth only a few years later. I got my 12-year molars when I was nine. I got my wisdom teeth when I was 13 or 14.

My point is, I was ahead of schedule with my teeth. And now it appears that Callum may be following in my footsteps. I'm still not totally convinced... especially because as far as I can tell from the articles I've read on teething, pretty much every parent seems to become convinced that their child is teething the day they hit four months old... but it really does seem that way. Even though apparently teething doesn't usually start before six months.

Here's what we're dealing with at the moment:
  • Many consecutive days of exceptional amounts of fussiness. Our mellow, easygoing, laid-back baby has started shrieking unhappily for no apparent reason. He's not hungry. He's not tired. His diaper is dry. He's not sick. He's just not happy. All day long.
  • Bottle refusal. Callum has always been good at self-regulating his food intake, so we've never pressed the issue if he's refused the bottle in the past. But now he gives clear hunger signs but still fusses and turns his head away from the bottle. If we try a few times, he'll usually take it eventually--and then eat a full meal. His overall daily food intake hasn't changed--it just takes a lot more work on our parts to get him to eat.
  • Chewing. Hands, toys, our fingers, his clothing, his car seat straps, whatever. If it's near enough for him to grab, it goes straight into his mouth. This is normal four-month-old behavior, so it might or might not be an indicator of teething.
  • Drooling. Same as above--this usually starts in earnest around four months anyway. It only seems to be excessive when he sleeps, during which time it collects on his shirt.
  • Lip sucking. Just in the past couple days, he's started pulling his lips inward and pressing them against his gums. I can only assume that this relieves pressure? I've never seen him do that before.
  • Ear-pulling. This happens only occasionally. I did some reading on whether this was a sign of an ear infection, and pretty much everything says that if they seem otherwise happy when they're doing it, and they aren't congested or feverish, it's more likely a teething sign. That description applies to him--I've only noticed him doing it when he was totally fine otherwise, and not fussy, plus he has no symptoms of sickness--so it seems like it's probably teething-related.
  • Trouble sleeping. He's still sleeping fine, but not as well as he was. For awhile he was sleeping through the night until 8 a.m. or later on a consistent basis. He still does that occasionally, but more often he'll wake up sometime between 4 and 6 a.m. Luckily when he does this he pretty much just eats and goes back to sleep, so I recognize that we're still pretty well off in this department. But it definitely signals a change from his earlier sleeping habits. He also has more trouble falling asleep at night--when we put him to bed, instead of just peacefully going off to sleep on his own as he did for the first four months of his life, he fusses for awhile and sometimes needs extra soothing before he falls asleep.
So. It sounds like teething to me. Does it sound that way to you? Because the thing is that what we aren't dealing with is actual teeth. His gums look and feel totally normal to me. And I'm a little bit terrified that if this is the start of teething, it's going to be a long time before any teeth actually show up. And I would really rather not deal with this for months on end. Plus, I would really rather my baby not have to go through this for months on end. It doesn't look like much fun! I miss my non-fussy baby. And I bet he misses not having a reason to be fussy, too.


  1. Gavin has been experiencing a lot of those symptoms, too ... for the past few months. He goes in waves. And to date, no teeth. Not to say Callum isn't getting teeth. He very well could be. Either way, it's probably a signal he's starting the process ... the question is how long it'll actually be until teeth break through.

  2. My son had his two bottom teeth breaking through at 3.5 months. He never showed any signs of it though. I got very lucky with him, he was never phased by any of the teething but the drool was outrageous! Now I'm scared my newborn will be quite different!

  3. With my daughter teething went like this:

    (She is/was an extremely easy-going baby as well)

    A little bit of fussiness and a high fever guaranteed she was cutting teeth. It go to the point that her fever would be at 101 or higher and family members and her babysitters would urge me to take her to the doctor. Then two days later a tooth would pop out and she'd be fine.
    My point with the high fever is that doctors will tell you again and again they will run a low grade fever but anything higher is not teething and this WAS NOT the case with my girl. So I pretty much just learned that every child is unique and your gut instant is right 98% of the time.

    I would say it's very possible that he is teething based on your description. Cold rags to chew on work wonders, as well as baby oragel. But sometimes nothing would help and we'd just have to sugger through for a few days.

    Good Luck!

  4. When we were at the pediatrician last week with our newborns, I happened to mention that I hoped they'd be happy teethers... and the doctor was like, "Well, studies have shown there's no such thing as teething."

    I totally raised an eyebrow at him (obviously babies do cut teeth, right?) until he explained what he meant. If he's right, you're onto something with your "it seems like all parents notice these symptoms at four months" thing.

    Apparently the fevers and digestive issues can be explained by a drop in immunity - babies get it from their mothers in utero but it starts to fade after a few months. (I think that's what he was saying.) The other stuff can be explained by developmental spurts, of which there is one around four months old, thus the widely-noted four-month sleep regression et al.

    My kids have been late-ish teethers, cutting their first around seven months, but we've still had the fussiness and sudden digestive and illness issues around four months like most babies. I'm personally inclined to agree with my pediatrician - it seems like this is one of those things where we think we recognize a cause and effect (baby has ongoing symptoms, then baby cuts teeth, then symptoms fade) but maybe it's just coincidental and the real explanation is more scientific. Being a nerd, I'm inclined to believe that... but eh. Who knows?

    Whatever it is, I hope Callum chills out soon!

  5. My easy going baby has been doing a lot of this too, and he IS cutting teeth. Well, just the one. Anyway, my kids are lousy teethers. Jelly Bean cut his first 4 teeth in one week at 11.5 months old.

    What. a. week.

    Hope Callum is feeling better soon!

  6. I don't know what is going on with Hannah either, but I hope it ends soon! We're traveling to the beach with my entire family next week, and if she has nights like last night, we're really, really in for it.

  7. Isn't there a 4 month growth spurt, too? Sounds like teeth to me, though they can be troublesome for awhile and never make an appearance. We were really lucky with our daughter as far as sleep. The only time she didn't sleep well was when she was teething. At one point she got 8 at once, which was an awful two weeks but then we were pretty much done and it was over with. Good luck!

  8. My daughter was born on Jan 27th and seems to be having all the same "symptoms" as Callum. I was wondering if she was teething just last night so this is a timely post :) Our first daugthter didn't cut teeth until almost 9 months but I remember distinctly telling my in-laws she was teething around 4 months. So I have no idea and am absolutely no help!! :)

  9. My daughter just turned 8 months and this post could be written about her!

    2 weeks ago, I took her to the Dr. because she was tugging at her ear (we were leaving for vacation the next day and I was nervous), fussy, not napping very well at daycare, and I could not feel anything as far as teeth were concerned. Sure enough, the doctor said teething (she flashed her little light on her gums and while I couldn't see it, she could). She said that it's all connected (ears, sinuses, drool, teeth) and not to worry.


    One week later, that little sucker popped through the gums. Frozen washcloths and tylenol helped. She just started sucking in her lips yesterday. She is really lovin on her Sophie right now!

    Good luck!

  10. Delurking,first your baby is adorable,second you should totally trust your instincts. My doctor thought I was crazy when I brought up the possibility that my 3 month old baby boy could be teething. All the same things you talked about,pulling at ears and more barfing. The drooling and sticking his fist in his mouth was what had me convinced. He was probably 12 weeks when he started showing signs and the first tooth popped through by sixteen weeks. My doctor actually said he was going to changed what he told parents about teething, just because of my Thomas. Fast forward five years and he got his first LOOSE tooth on the exact same day his first tooth pooped through when he was a baby. How weird is that? Please don't ask how I remember this or ask anything about my little girls babyhood (second child and all)because I have no explanation. But somehow I don't remember it being too horrible. He was a very good baby, like your Callum, and kind of assuming that's what it was, for me, took the edge off. I think I would be surprised if you don't see teeth in the next few weeks.Here's hoping.

  11. My pediatrician liked to make the distinction between teething and cutting a tooth. Teething can go on for a while as baby feels the discomfort of things moving and shifting. Of course, cutting a tooth is the actual pushing through of the teeth. That will probably only take a few days. Having said that, Jude just got his first two teeth and he is not yet six months. So it can happen at any time. Neva was nine months before she finally cut her first tooth and I thought she started teething around Callum's age too. Do you see any white buds coming up? Jude is a pretty easy going baby but around the four month mark he suddenly got fussy for a few weeks before becoming easy-going again. Just when you think you have that baby figured out, he changes...exciting and tiring and delightful!

  12. Teething!

    Was going to suggest frozen washcloths but Anonymous beat me to it! My parents use to rub whiskey on our gums (not much) and that helped too!

    However, we're Hungarian and whiskey is the cure for just about every malady :-)

  13. My family is ridiculously slow in the teething department (I lost my first tooth at seven, which was par for the course with my next siblings). And my sister who is getting married at 22 this summer finally lost her last baby teeth two years ago.

  14. Owen started with all those symptoms at 3 months, but didn't cut his first tooth until six. "Teething" lasts forever!

    Now he has seven teeth and I swear they just keep on coming. The bottom ones gave him little trouble, but the sharp, big top ones were killer!

  15. Poor guy... sounds like that may be happening. Teething can be a real bummer. Wet rags in the freezer for him to chew on may help; a great thing for summer anyway, too!

    I can't believe you lost your first tooth at 4! That's super advanced!

  16. Sounds like teeth to me. My baby got her first two a week before she hit 5 months. She had been having the symptoms you describe since 2 months at that point, and everyone told me I was nuts for suspecting teeth. She had all but her 2 year molars at 11 months. At 22 months now, they are just poking through.

  17. Hey Jess! I'd email you about this, but I can't find your email address on your site.

    I'm travelling to Denver for a wedding the second week of August and was wondering if you had any must-sees for us. I'm going with my husband and babe who's a couple weeks older than yours.

    Thanks a lot - love your blog and reading about your cute little guy, especially since ours are so close in age.

  18. Total bummer! My youngest is 17 months now but she went through the same thing for months...I kept waiting for teeth...and nothing. So I felt like I was going day thinking she was teething and the next day convinced it was something else! I still couldn't tell you for sure if it was actually teething symptoms or not...but I have to agree with all the others about the cold wash cloths and orajel, etc etc. I also sell Teething Jewelry at our boutique (mom-invented product that moms wear and babies can chew on...helpful while out and about) and my daughter loved that and chewed the heck out of it, lol.

  19. Just massage his gums with teething toys for his crankiness to subside. It's natural for kids his age to act like that, and that is the time when you should keep a total eye on him. Also, try giving him carrot sticks. That may do the trick. Well, at least it worked for my kid cousin.