Babies have always chomped; it’s just that gums don’t leave marks. Parents can help by giving kids an appropriate way to relieve their discomfort.

By Matthew Utley

Waking up in the morning to find the crib railing peppered with tiny tooth marks can be disconcerting, but it’s not necessarily cause for concern. Babies’ mouths are like deep space probes, analyzing everything they come across. It’s called the rooting reflex; anything that brushes against their cheek or lower lip gets a gum job. It’s a natural instinct that doesn’t really cause harm – in fact, it’s quite soothing – although popping everything in their mouth certainly poses risks for the baby.

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