Teething—it’s like a rite of passage for babies, but boy, oh boy, it can be tough on both bub and parents. As those little teeth start poking through the gums, it often comes with a side of pain, irritability, and, you guessed it, disrupted sleep. Leaving everyone feeling utterly exhausted—babies and parents alike.
So let’s chat about this milestone and explore ways you can navigate the disrupted nights, dribble and fussiness of your teething bub, to find some peaceful nights of rest once again.
Let’s get real about teething—it’s a rocky road, but it’s also a sign of growth and development. Your little munchkin’s teeth are ready to take on the world of chewing!
Teething typically occurs between 5 to 30 months of age, and while it may seem never-ending, the actual pain associated with teething lasts for a relatively short period—approximately 24 to 72 hours—before the tooth breaks through the gum.
Teething brings a set of not-so-fun sidekicks like gum inflammation and sensitivity. That’s why your adorable bub may get a bit cranky and restless, leaving you both yearning for some shut-eye. The good news is that once that little tooth emerges, most of the discomfort begins to fade.
Interestingly, teething usually follows a pattern, with the lower central incisors being the pioneers, followed by the upper central incisors, lateral incisors, first molars, canines, and finally, the second molars. But like everything, this is not set in stone, so please don’t worry if your little one is cutting teeth in a different order.
The Impact of Teething on Sleep:
Let’s talk about those sleepless nights. Teething can play some sneaky tricks on your baby’s sleep routine due to the discomfort and pain associated with the eruption of new teeth. Increased irritability, disrupted sleep patterns like night wakes and catnapping, difficulty falling asleep, and changes in appetite are some common ways teething affects babies’ sleep routines.
So if you’ve been saying to yourself, “They are just teething” for the last few months, but no *super-duper* cute pearly whites have cut through… there is likely more to the story when it comes to your little one’s frequent night wakes. But if you CAN see a little tooth about to pop through the gum, one is likely on the way, AND you might see your little one’s sleep disrupted for 24-72 hours before the tooth erupts.
Tips to Soothe Your Teething Baby:
Teething Toys and Chews: Think of these as little superheroes designed to save the day (and night!). Offer your baby safe and engaging teething toys. From textured teethers to cool, water-filled ones, these can provide some much-needed relief to your little one’s sore gums.
Cold Foods and Drinks: Chilled foods like pureed fruits or yoghurt! They can give your little one’s gums a much-needed break. If your baby has started solids, you can also introduce chilled cucumber or carrot sticks for them to gnaw on.
Distraction and Soothing Techniques: Time to unleash the magic of distraction! Engage your little wonder with bedtime stories, lullabies, or some gentle rocking to calm those teething troubles.
Pain Relief Medication: When the teething storm gets a bit too intense, consider chatting with your paediatrician or pharmacist about over-the-counter pain relief options.
Gentle Gum Massages: Apply gentle pressure to your baby’s gums with clean fingers. You can even gently rub their gums with a clean, damp cloth for soothing relief.
Snuggles and Cuddles: Embrace the power of love! Shower your little teething bub with extra snuggles, baby-wearing, rocking, and cuddles. Your warm embrace works wonders in soothing them.
Soothe Sore Chins: Soothe your baby’s sore chin with a barrier cream if they are reacting to the extra drool that comes with teething.
Nappy Free: Give your bub some nappy free time. Some babies will tend to have a change in their bowel motions around teething, and nappy rash can flare up too.
Things to Avoid:
It’s essential to approach teething remedies cautiously. Avoid using amber necklaces, as they can pose a choking hazard. Be cautious with teething gels that may not be the best sidekick for your little one’s health. These gels might offer quick relief, but they can contain ingredients that are better off avoided. Homoeopathic remedies should also be approached with care and discussed with your doctor first.
Maintaining a Sleep Foundation:
Before teething even starts, lay the foundation for a solid sleep routine. Keep your little one’s bedtime rituals consistent and comforting. Consistency is key when it comes to sleep and little ones—it helps your baby understand what to expect and when.
During teething disruptions, don’t be afraid to offer extra comfort and reassurance. You may need to deviate from the regular routine a bit, and that’s absolutely fine. Responding to your baby’s needs during this time is essential to parenting.
Once the tooth emerges and the teething episode subsides, return to your usual sleep approach, and you’ll find that sleep quickly returns to normal. Flexibility is the key to surviving parenthood—our plans might not always go as expected, but we adapt and conquer!
Q: Should I start sleep training when my baby is teething?
A: If you can see that a tooth is just about to cut through the gum, then I would consider waiting 24 to 72 hours before starting a sleep program and making any big sleep changes to your little one’s routine or settling.
You’re doing amazing! Teething may have its tricky moments, but don’t forget that this is all part of your little one’s incredible journey of growth. Embrace those precious snuggles, offer comfort, and explore these soothing techniques—it’s like having a toolkit for teething! Trust your instincts, seek advice from your healthcare provider if needed, and remember that this phase will pass.