Cutting teeth isn't one of those milestones a baby reaches all at once. Transitioning from that gummy grin to a mouthful of gleaming teeth is a rite of passage that can take your little one three years to complete. Whenever the first tooth peeks through, celebrate it by taking pictures and noting its arrival date in your child's baby book.
By the time your little one is 3, he'll have a mouthful of choppers that he can brush himself, a basic step on the road to self care. (Because he won't have the skills to do a good job, though, be sure to lend him a hand until he's at least 6 years old.)
When it develops the journey starts in the womb. While you were pregnant, your baby developed tooth buds, the foundation for baby teeth (also called milk teeth). Only one in 2,000 babies is born with teeth, though. The vast majority sprout their first tooth between 4 and 7 months of age.
If your baby's an early developer, you may see his first white cap (usually one of the bottom middle teeth) as early as 3 months. If he's a late bloomer you may have to wait until he's a year old or more. The last teeth to appear (the second molars, found in the very back of the mouth on the top and bottom) have usually begun coming into place by your baby's second birthday. By age 3, your child should have a full set of 20 baby teeth.
How it develops
While some babies breeze through the teething process, many seem to struggle with it and experience discomfort. Among the symptoms your teething baby may exhibit:
Drooling (which can lead to a facial rash)
Gum swelling and sensitivity
Irritability or fussiness
There's debate among experts over whether certain problems like diarrhea, fever, congestion, body rashes, and vomiting can be caused by teething. A rule of thumb: If your baby has symptoms that worry you, don't just chalk it up to teething. Check with your doctor to rule out other potential causes that may need attention.
Most babies get new teeth in this order: First the bottom two middle ones, then the top two middle ones, then the ones along the sides and back.