teethingTeething. It's one of those words you hear before having kids and don't pay much attention to. But when babies start teething -- hooo boy, it's impossible not to pay attention to.

Some little ones breeze through teething with nary a whimper in sight, but others are constantly uncomfortable and practically impossible to soothe. It's heartbreaking, frustrating, and it can actually be kind of confusing (is it an ear ache or teething?). Here's everything you need to know about teething from first signs to when to start brushing.

First Signs

There are a few classic, tell-tale signs of teething. Some babies display all; others only a few. They are: Drooling; gnawing at things (fingers -- theirs or yours; toys; your breast); making "weird" faces where they suck either their top or bottom lip in; being extra fussy; refusing to eat.

Teething Relief

If your baby isn't interested in any forms of "relief" while teething, don't worry -- they're not abnormal. Some babies just aren't having anything when they're teething. But, hey, it's worth a shot. Some teething remedies: A wet washcloth to gnaw on (warm or cold); teething toys (many babies love Sophie the Giraffe); teething feeders; a homemade popsicle (watch your baby); teething biscuits (again, please, watch baby); or Smart Mom Jewelry.

What to Look For

One day you'll see it. A tiny, little white tooth "cutting through" the gums. It starts out small, like in the photo, but as the days and weeks go by, it will eventually be a regular baby tooth. Typically, right before the tooth cuts through, gums are red, swollen, and a bit bumpy looking. Be happy when you see that tooth, though -- relief is near(ish)!

What Teeth Mean for Your Baby

After your little one sprouts a few teeth (and they're around 8-9 months), you can likely start giving them "finger foods" like Puffs and cereal (ask your child's pediatrician). It's good to remember that little teeth also mean the possibility of biting -- hard. Babies may be tiny, but they can pack a (painful) punch.

When to Brush?

Shortly after my daughter got teeth, her pediatrician advised to start rubbing a wet washcloth over them when she was in the bath (mainly to get her used to the sensation). But others are told to use a small toothbrush with just two or three rows of very soft bristles on their child's teeth after a few come in. This is something that needs to be discussed with your child's pediatrician, along with what, if any, toothpaste to use.