Teething can start as early as 3 months or as late as 12 months, but most babies sprout their first white caps (typically the two middle teeth on the bottom) between 4 and 7 months of age. Don't be alarmed if your baby has gaps between those pearly whites. Teeth often come up through the gums at odd angles, and spaces commonly disappear by age 3, after all 20 baby teeth have broken through.
Once your baby starts teething, you can expect more drooling and experimenting with sounds as an adjustment to having these strange new things in his or her mouth.
To ease your baby's discomfort, offer something to chew on, such as a firm rubber teething ring or a clean cold washcloth.
Your baby may also get some relief from eating cold foods such as applesauce or yogurt (if he or she is eating solids) as the cold may temporarily numb the pain.
Giving a baby a hard, unsweetened teething cracker to gnaw on is another time-honored trick. You can also try rubbing your finger over your baby's sore gums.
If these methods aren't working, some doctors recommend giving a teething baby a small dose of children's pain reliever such as infants' acetaminophen – but check with your doctor before giving your baby any medication. (Never give your baby aspirin or even rub it on his or her gums to ease the pain. The use of aspirin in children is associated with Reye's Syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition.)
Rubbing the gums with topical pain relief gel is also an option, but you may want to ask your baby's doctor before trying it. If you use too much, it can numb the back of your baby's throat and weaken the gag reflex, which helps prevent your baby from choking on his or her saliva. The gels are generally safe to use, but in rare cases can cause an allergic reaction.
If drool causes a rash on your baby's face, wipe (but don't rub) the drool away with a soft cotton cloth. You can also smooth petroleum jelly on your baby's chin before a nap or bedtime to protect the skin from further irritation.