Most babies start teething between 4 and 7 months; watch for the first tooth to appear between 6 and 10 months. Fortunately, most kids suffer only mild discomfort during teething. Here are some ways to tell if your baby's experiencing it:
• Chewing, biting, and sucking: Because your child's gums are irritated, you might see her gnawing on just about anything -- toys, crib rails, even on her clothes and fists.
• Drooling: While most babies drool, you may notice a lot more of it right now. The continual wetness can cause your baby's lower cheeks and chin to redden.
• Changes in mood and appetite: Not surprisingly, teething makes many babies may crankier and fussier than usual. Some kids even lose their appetite for a while.
• Low-grade fever (less than 101 degrees F., taken rectally): This can be due to gum inflammation. But if your baby also has a runny nose, a bout of diarrhea, or other strange symptoms, don't simply chalk it up to her teething; these are usually caused by a virus or a bacterial infection. In the case of diarrhea, it could be due to a change in diet (teething babies are typically trying various solid foods for the first time).
If your child seems ill and you suspect she's teething, inspect her gums. If they're swollen and you can feel at least one tooth-size lump, teething's in progress. If her gums are red or blue (instead of pink) or bleeding, see a dentist, because these symptoms aren't normal. --Deborah Pike Olsen
Originally published in the May 2003 issue of Parents magazine. Updated 2009.