Toddler Teething: Signs and Symptoms of the First Molars

posted by nicole

Molars are evil.

Plain and simple.

There was just no preparing me for what to expect when my teething toddler started working on her first molars. I kept hearing everyone talk about the dreaded molars, but I figured G has 8 teeth already and we survived, how much worse could molars be? Insert foot into mouth now. This was teething on steroids, and clearly I was not ready for the molar mayhem that took place. Here are 5 major signs and symptoms my toddler experienced as she prepared to get her first molars.

Signs and Symptoms of the First Molars

1. Niagara Falls of Drool

For whatever reason, G was never a drooly baby.  She rarely used a bib, except for eating, and by this point in toddlerhood I had packed away all of them except for a few.  When teething began for her molars, the drool turned on like a faucet. It was my first hint the molars were ready to migrate.  I retrieved her bibs from my attic storage bin and snapped on one after the other.  They didn’t even help that much. For a span of a week, I changed her bib and shirt at least four times a day, and her crib sheets at night and during nap time were filled with giant circular drool spots. Gross! I used sheet protectors under her crib sheet and just kept washing and drying.  This onslaught of drool lasted only about a week and was the first sign (aside from her plump white gums) that toddler teething had begun.

2. Food Refusal

G is a great eater.  She loves her fruits and vegetables and is usually happy with whatever I prepare for her. When the first molars were on the horizon, her eating habits changed drastically.  She didn’t have an appetite.  She spit food out and/or threw food on the floor.  She didn’t even want to drink from her favorite sippy cup.  This was frustrating and I was worried that she wasn’t getting enough nutrition.  I’m always trying to give her balanced square meals, but with molar teething I just went with whatever worked.  I had the most success with soft, cold foods such as yogurt, applesauce, fruit cups, homemade ice pops, and oatmeal with cold milk.

3. Sleepless Nights and Early Mornings

During the molar madness, I felt like the sleepless newborn nights were here again, and my personal toddler alarm clock was programmed to some ungodly AM hour.  Sleepless nights and early wake-ups were signs that we also experienced when G was getting her other teeth. The only thing that was different was that this time during her sleepless nights, she really didn’t even want me to hold her.  She just kept crying. She was so restless and squirmy and appeared so uncomfortable. I felt so bad for her. It was heartbreaking to watch my baby in pain and know there wasn’t much I could do to help her.  I consistently gave her Infant Tylenol each night to dull the pain and tried to comfort her as best as I could.

4. Tantrums

All I have to say is Invasion of the Body Snatchers!!! When molars started moving in, my little darling moved out! Who was this crying, thrashing, kicking, little spawn before me? Certainly not, my happy-go-lucky, smiling, little darling, G.  Now, I know that there is a big difference from when a child goes from baby to toddler, stubbornness kicks in and you’re flooded with “I want to do it my way” followed by tantrums.  But for me, this was all that, plus added teething misery.  I had never really seen G have a full blown tantrum, but when she was getting her molars, I got an eyeful.  She was off the rails. The littlest things would set her off, and she would be kicking and screaming on the floor.  I remember watching horrified one day as she ran around in circles screaming and biting the couch.  The best I could do was stay very calm, talk softly to her, and either ignore her (while drinking wine balled up in a safe corner) or distract her. Sure enough, since those molars have popped through there has been no sign of that type of behavior.  She’s been back to her happy, friendly self.  As for me, I’m happily replenishing my wine stash before the canines come in!

5. Cold Symptoms

It’s difficult as a first time mom to distinguish the difference between cold symptoms and teething.  The symptoms can be so similar and they can overlap. The main teething symptoms G had when she was getting her molars were ear holding and rubbing, nose itching, red cheeks, diarrhea, phlegmy cough, runny nose, and a low fever.  These symptoms would come and go and a few times I checked with our pediatrician because I really thought she had a cold.  Looking back,  I now know it was all teething related.  Teething really does wreak havoc on a toddler’s body.  I found that ice water in her sippy cup helped, along with using her humidifier at night.  Infant Motrin also helped for the really bad nights because it lasts longer than Tylenol.

When G went to her 12 month appointment, her pediatrician looked at her gums and told us her molars were ready to start coming in. From that point, it took 2 months for her to start having significant signs and symptoms, and then almost exactly a month later from G’s first signs of molars all four of those suckers broke the gums.  After a month of enduring molar mayhem, it’s now behind us.  I’m happy to say G got two new shiny sets of chompers and I got back my sanity-well, most of it.

How did you endure toddler teething? What worked for you?

Posted in Babies, Baby Milestones, Mommy Tips, Parenting Hell. Tagged , , , , , .

Talk about it