When Do Baby Teeth Appear?

Physical Development – Your Growing Toddler (Chapter 1)

From start to finish, it takes two to three years for all twenty baby teeth to appear.


When Do Baby Teeth Appear?

A child may measure in the 75th percentile in height or weight at one checkup, but in the median range a year later. That’s normal. Your child’s doctor will be looking for progressive growth from checkup to checkup. He or she will also look for a reasonable balance between height and weight.

Overall build.

Your child will begin to elongate and thin out. Until sometime in the third year, he’ll still have a pot belly, swayed back, and wide-legged gait. His head will continue to appear slightly large atop his pudgy body. But gradually the head and body fall into better proportion, the torso slims, and the arms and legs lengthen. By age 3, he looks lanky, clearly older than he did at 2. Also by the third birthday, those chubby cheeks and button noses tend to take on a more sculpted, childlike appearance, too.


More baby teeth (called primary teeth) come in during toddlerhood than infancy. Your child will collect his full mouthful of twenty choppers sometime between the second and third birthdays. The rate at which they arrive varies from child to child, though the sequence is generally the same. Before the first birthday, a child will usually have cut the two lower central incisors (also called the cutting teeth), followed a month or two later by the two upper central incisors and the four lateral incisors. The four first molars appear shortly after the first birthday. Then come the pointed canines and the second baby molars.

Note that it’s also normal for a child not to cut a first tooth until 18 to 24 months. (Baby teeth usually don’t start to fall out until age 6 or 7.)

Teething pain is also very individual. Some kids never feel any discomfort, while others may suffer tender gums or low-grade fever, and generally act fussier than normal. The molars, especially, may cause pain since they are larger than the incisors. Indulge your child’s need to chew during teething. You can buy special plastic toys for teething or just let your child mouth any safe toy. Many toddlers resort to gnawing on their own fingers to comfort themselves. This is perfectly fine; there’s no need to force your child’s thumb or fingers away from his mouth during this tender time. Consult your doctor about the advisability of an over-the- counter anesthetic for gums. Some parents swear by them, but many medical professionals believe they’re unnecessary because saliva quickly rinses them away. Teething pain shouldn’t last longer than a day or two per tooth.

WHAT IF… I want my child to be right-handed but she seems to be a lefty?

Most toddlers are ambidextrous, switching between hands easily until somewhere between 3 and 5. If your child seems to have a clear preference already, there’s little you can, or should, do to change it.

Handedness is thought to be inherited. Trying to rewire your child’s natural preference may only slow down the process of learning to use a fork, throw a ball, and write—skills that take time for both righties and lefties to master.

Getting around. Gross motor skills are the activities that involve the large muscle groups—crawling, standing, sitting, and, of course, walking. Your child has been practicing for the big first step for months, by crawling and pulling up. As the legs become more muscular and strong, most 12-month-olds can briefly stand alone without holding on to anything. You might first see this while your child is in the crib, where she can use the railings to help hoist herself upright. Be sure to lower the mattress to its lowest position once your child can stand in the crib; otherwise she could lean over and fall out.


“Carry Me!” Toddlers Chances are good that a tot who begs for a lift after you’ve gone just a few paces is seeking security more than rest. Wanting to be carried is an expression of the ambivalence toddlers feel about getting bigger. They want to grow up and do new things (such as walking in the park or visiting the zoo) but sometimes feel a little overwhelmed or fearful. It’s reassuring to touch base with Mom or Dad. A child begging to be carried may simply not be able to keep pace with you, and falling behind is scary, too.
That said, you needn’t break your back.

Make life easier on yourself by bringing along the stroller on long outings after your child is walking well on his own. Help your child feel connected by holding hands or patting your child’s head as you walk. Give in briefly in the guise of a game: “Here we go, up, up—and now down, down.” Or agree to hold your child “until we get to that sign” or “for one more block.” When “Carry me!” becomes a habit, negotiate. Say, “If you’re too tired to walk and don’t want to ride in the stroller, I think we’d better stop.” With a lot of love and a little patience, the problem usually disappears by mid- toddlerhood.

PARENT TIP See How They Grow!

Now that your child can stand straight (if he’ll also stand still for a few seconds), it’s fun to begin tracking his height with dated pencil marks on a wall or removable growth chart. You’ll all be amazed at how he shoots up over time.

Typically, “cruising”—walking while holding on to sofas and chairs— begins around the first birthday. Some infants cruise as early as seven months, though this does not mean they will be early solo walkers. Some children skip the crawling stage altogether, progressing directly from pulling up to cruising. This is perfectly normal. A few kids never cruise at all, preferring to boldly strike out on their own.

Whenever your child pulls up to walk, make the feat easier by pushing together furniture, so she can navigate from handhold to handhold. Clear the floors of throw rugs that could slip or cause trips. Once your child is a confident cruiser, try setting up little gaps in the furniture along her favorite pathways; this will require her to take a short step or two before she can reach the next chair or table. Or, stand a short distance from your child and encourage her, with your arms outstretched, to “Come to Mommy.” The first solo steps, usually wobbly and tentative, follow soon after.

Every child has a comical variation: the Frankenstein’s Monster, with outstretched arms; the Charlie Chaplin duck waddle; the staggering Drunken Sailor; the Magnet, who needs the psychological connection of your fingertips. Generally, a cruiser or a beginning walker clings to some of the placid cuddliness of babyhood. He’s still content to be held or carried as well as to take some steps. He may fall back on crawling when he wants to get somewhere in a hurry. But soon after those first steps, things change quickly.

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