Babies and Toddlers

Bottle feeding

Many babies will feed from a bottle at some stage, either from birth or in conjunction with breast feeding. What you put in your baby’s bottle can have a major impact on the future of their teeth, so the BDA has put together these simple guidelines:

  • Wherever possible put only water or milk in your baby’s bottle.
  • Don’t be tempted to put fruit juices in a bottle. The acid can attack your baby’s teeth.

Even very weak fruit squash can damage your baby’s teeth. Stick with water or milk to keep the risk of decay to a minimum.


Dummies and Thumb-Sucking

Many parents use a dummy as a way of comforting their baby, especially when trying to get him or her off to sleep. Limited use of dummies is fine, but if your child sucks on a dummy for long periods, it could cause problems in the way the teeth develop. The same is true if your baby sucks his or her thumb. The pressure of the thumb or dummy against the back of the teeth could push them forward, which may mean your child will need corrective treatment – like a brace or having teeth removed – later on.
Try to wean your child off sucking its thumb or a dummy, treating it as part of the growing up process. Never be tempted to dip your child’s dummy in anything, especially something like sugar or fruit juice. Prolonged contact with the teeth could cause real damage.



When your baby is teething it can be a difficult time for baby and parents alike. The first teeth usually appear at around six months, but they can begin to come through as early as three months or as late as one year.

  • 6 months – first incisors (front teeth)
  • 7 months – second incisors
  • 12 months – first molars
  • 18 months – canines (eye teeth)
  • 2-3 years – second molars

As the teeth grow, they push through the gums, which can be quite painful for your baby. This is especially true for the first teeth because it’s a new experience for your baby, and when the molars – or back teeth – start to push through because they’re bigger.

Teething is usually easy to spot. Your child may become more bad-tempered than usual and may have trouble sleeping. You’ll probably notice that he or she is chewing on their toys or fingers and is more dribbly than usual.

If your baby seems uncomfortable or in pain, there are ways you can help. Teething rings, especially if they’ve been cooled in the fridge, and cool drinks of milk or water can help to soothe sore gums. If these don’t work, you may wish to try a local anaesthetic gel, although this should be used sparingly and you must follow the instructions carefully.