You've made it through the first few months with twins. Just when you think that you're getting a handle on things, you start to notice some curious symptoms. There's a constant stream of drool and horrible diaper messes. The babies chew on everything in sight, including each other. They're fussy and out-of-sorts, waking up at odd times and not wanting to eat. What is going on?
Your babies may be teething, getting ready for their first teeth to push through their gums. Goodbye gummy grins! Hello little pearls of teeth. Most babies start the teething process between four and nine months of age, but it can begin as young as three months old. On average, a baby's first tooth will make an appearance at about seven months. However, that schedule can vary widely, so don't feel concerned if your twins or multiples don't meet that milestone, especially if they were born prematurely. Even if your babies are chronologically seven months old, their adjusted age is based on their original due date. Talk to your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about their teething timeline.
Don't be surprised if your multiples teeth at different times, receiving their teeth several days, weeks or even months apart. They are individuals after all and won't necessarily adhere to the same schedule. However, the teething process often follows similar patterns in families. If the parents were early -- or late -- teethers, their kids may follow suit.
Generally, the first teeth to appear are in the front middle of the bottom jaw, called the incisorsm, followed by the top incisors, canines (cuspids) and molars over the course of the next year or two. Most children have a full mouth of baby teeth by the age of two. Sometimes, mirror image twins will receive their teeth on opposite sides of their mouths at about the same time. For example, one will get a tooth on the right and the other on the left.
Signs of Teething
So what can you expect when your twins are teething? While there are some common signs, they vary greatly from baby to baby. Some babies exhibit no signs and experience relatively little discomfort. Others seem plagued by problems that present themselves as every single tooth makes an appearance.
A Double Dose of Drool: Dripping, drenching, drowning drool! It's a common sight in babies starting at about three months of age, and the deluge can continue throughout the teething process as excess salivation builds up in babies' mouths.
Bibs are the best way to protect your twins' clothing. Look for soft, absorbent bibs as opposed to the vinyl or plastic ones used to protect clothing during feeding.
The constant drooling may cause a rash around your babies' mouths or chins as the moisture ebbs away the skin's natural oils. Talk to your doctor about how to prevent or minimize the rash. He/she may recommend protecting the area with Vaseline or other ointment.
Some babies also experience loose stools or diarrhea while teething While experts may negate a connection between teething and diarrhea, plenty of parents recognize it as more than a coincidence! Because loose stools can be caused by other factors, it is always important to check with your doctor about such symptoms.
Low-grade Fever: Some babies exhibit an inexplicable low-grade fever (99-100 degrees) in conjunction with a tooth eruption. Many experts maintain that teething does not cause fevers, but yet again, plenty of parents observe this symptom. Better safe than sorry; always check with your pediatrician when your babies have a fever.
Biting and Chewing: Just as the teething process starts, babies master the motor skills necessary to put things in their mouths. You may notice that your twins are chewing and gnawing on everything in sight, including each other! They are simply seeking relief from pressure building in their gums as the teeth come closer to the surface. It's definitely a time to ensure that your home is twin-proofed, removing and securing all potential hazards.
Irritability: Poor babies. The discomfort of teething can result in babies that are cranky, fretful and fussy. It's frustrating for parents, who don't always understand the source of their babies' distress and hate to see their precious ones out of sorts. Many parents of twins feel like they can never catch a break. Just as one twin's discomfort subsides, the other twin starts up. Don't worry. Remember: this "two" shall pass and your happy babies will return.
Disruption of Routine: Just as you settle into a somewhat manageable schedule of eating and sleeping, you find your babies waking at odd hours and refusing to eat at mealtimes. These changes may well be attributable to teething, as their discomfort that disrupts their sleep or prevents them from eating.
Dealing with Teething Twins
Your pediatrician can give you specific advice on how to help your babies cope with the discomfort of teething. Recommendations may include administration of ingestible pain relievers such as infant ibuprofen or acetaminophen or a topical product for gums. You can also offer your babies comfort by giving them safe items to chew or gnaw on. Try putting toys in the fridge or freezer; the cold brings sweet relief. (Be careful that frozen items are not too cold or too hard.) Frozen bagels or zwieback toast are another soothing option for babies to gnaw. Be sure that it is large enough that it can not be swallowed, and that it won't break up into pieces that present a choking hazard.
Even before teeth appear, take care of your twins' gums by wiping them daily with a clean, damp washcloth, gauze or infant toothbrush. As baby teeth erupt, brush them gently with a moistened baby toothbrush; avoid using toothpaste until your twins are old enough not to swallow it.
Don't let your twins fall asleep with bottles filled with milk or juice; as the liquids pool in their mouths, it can cause those precious new teeth to decay. Schedule a dentist visit around the time your twins turn one. Finally, take pictures as their teeth arrive, and note the dates! Amidst the chaos of parenting twins, it is easy to forget or confuse these special milestones.