Baby Teething and Sleep
Teething… It can be a real pain in the you know what for you and your baby! By the time your baby hits 24 months or so of age they will get 20 teeth! On average, babies start teething around 6 months of age (this varies baby to baby!). Lucky for them (and you) they don’t all come in at once and are usually kind of spaced out over those first two years. When teething happens, it can be a little painful. This can make babies fussy, grumpy, and drooly overall act a little off from their normal behavior. Luckily, the worst part of teething typically lasts only 24-48 hours. The pain, frustration, and crankiness your baby goes through while they are teething can definitely cause disrupted sleep because they are just plain not feeling well.
You may notice when teething starts or some obvious signs of teething if your baby seems grumpier than normal for no real reason, they start drooling a TON, they’re chewing on anything and everything in sight and they may even have a runny nose or just a slightly elevated temperature (if you’re concerned about their temp, seek medical advice and definitely call your pediatrician). So what can you do to help your baby make it through cutting a few teeth without it having a huge, negative impact on their sleep? I’ve got some tips that can help!
Baby Teething and Sleep
Whether your baby is a perfect sleeper or you haven’t quite tackled sleep training yet, teething can throw a bit of a monkey wrench into things. When your baby is teething and in pain, it can very easily affect their sleep. Below are a few ways you can help your baby through this teething process and help them sleep whether it’s naptime or bedtime.
1. Bedtime Routine
If you have a bedtime routine established before your baby’s teething episode, stick to it! Bedtime routines do not have to be long, drawn-out processes. They can be as simple as feeding, reading, snuggles, white noise machine turned on, and into bed. Having a well-established, set bedtime routine will help your baby sleep better regardless of if they aren’t feeling well or not. Continue on with their bedtime routine while teething so that you don’t throw off their rhythm even more than it already is from their teeth pain and you can help contribute to them getting a good night’s sleep.
2. Comfort During the Night
If your baby wakes during the night crying from teething pain, be sure to comfort them if they need it. Sometimes a cuddle and rubbing their gums if they’re sore can be a huge relief to your baby during the night. You can also let them chew on a frozen washcloth or give them a dose of pain reliever if they need it. (I go into detail about each of these tips below). If a tooth eruptions happen overnight, your baby will let you know, make sure you offer comfort as needed. Good thing is that after the tooth erupts, the fussiness and discomfort should subside!
3. Numb Gums Before Bedtime
About 30-60 minutes before bedtime, let your baby chew on something chilled or frozen. This can help numb their gums before they fall asleep and make things a little easier on them. You may have heard of products like topical creams and gels and homeopathic teething tablets. The FDA advises against using these because of possible negative side effects. Teething necklaces are also unsafe because of the risk of strangulation and choking.
Helpful Teething Tips and Tricks
1. Teething Rings/Toys
When babies are teething it can be so helpful for them to chew on something. There are what seems like an endless amount of teething toys and teething rings on the market nowadays. Teething toys are typically made of a rubbery material (or even wood) so they’re soft on their sore gums, but still firm enough to allow them to get some good chewing in to relieve some of the pain they feel. If you can find a teether that is made to be frozen or chilled that can really feel good on those sore gums!
2. Frozen Items
Cold = numbing! This combination is perfect for a teething baby. Just like teething toys, there are a TON of frozen/chillable items out there that you can offer your baby. If you’re stuck at home and not able to rush out and find a new teething item, try a frozen washcloth! You can just wet a washcloth, stick it in the freezer and when it’s frozen let your baby gnaw away on it! The pain from teething can sometimes cause babies to not want to eat or drink, if this is the case, try a frozen breastmilk or formula popsicle.
Simply add some breastmilk or formula to a popsicle mold, freeze it and let your baby enjoy! This can get a little messy, so a highchair or on a towel is a great place to offer this! Make sure you never leave your baby unattended while chewing on any sort of teething toy/frozen washcloth or popsicle.
3. Massage Gums
Using a clean finger, try massaging your baby’s gums where the tooth is breaking through. The pressure from their tooth coming through along with the pressure of you massaging their gums is a really nice pain reliever.
4. Extra Cuddles
If your baby is just downright not feeling well because of their tooth coming through, extra cuddles can always help! You may not be able to set them down as much as you’d like, but soak up all those extra cuddles while you can!
5. Over the Counter Medications
Always check with your doctor first, but over the counter medications like tylenol and advil can be very helpful in reducing the teething pain your little one is feeling.
Teething is a real pain, literally! Luckily it is a relatively short term issue that your baby will work through. If teething has completely thrown off your baby’s sleep or your baby is struggling with sleep overall, please reach out! As a certified sleep consultant I’m happy to help get your baby and you on track to sleeping great!