Teething Pain & Baby Sleep 101Apr 05, 2022
Teething sucks. I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you. Toothache as an adult is the worst, so I feel like it’s so important to have empathy when your little one is teething as they truly just hurt a lot, and don’t know why!
With that being said, so many parents blame poor sleep on teething... For months and months. And that just isn't the case.
Teething becomes painful about 4 days before the tooth physically erupts through the gums. Before this, it’s unlikely they are going to be fussy or showing other signs of teething.
This is great! It means that teething won’t last weeks and weeks like some parents may indicate. Your baby may have a few teeth come through at the same time, which can be a really tough couple of weeks (for both of you), but overall, the hardest part will only last a few days. PHEW!
It’s totally natural, and not something to be worried about. It causes gum pain, but not horrible intense pain that will scar your baby forever! Below I will share proven symptoms of teething, timeframes, red flags, and tips to help your baby!
TEETHING MYTHS VS REALITY
There IS SO MUCH information out there on teething so I want to simplify what are true and proven signs of teething vs inaccurate old wives tales.
Proven signs of teething Include:
- Small rash on the face from drooling
- Swollen gums
- White nubs poking through the gums
- Increased chewing and gnawing!!
FALSE signs of teething Include:
- Diaper/nappy rash
- Runny nose
- Excessive crying
If your baby has a fever, it’s important not to write it off as a sign of teething. Doing this can cause delay in treatment for an actual medical problem. If your child has a fever and is acting very sick, make sure to contact their doctor immediately.
HOW TO HELP YOUR BABY THROUGH TEETHING PAIN:
These tips are shown to be the most effective teething comfort tips for your baby:
- Teething/chew toys and teething rings: Having something to chew on will help your baby release some feeling of pressure from the tooth erupting.
- Extra tip: If your baby is too little to use a teething ring, or just doesn’t seem to take to one, try dipping a corner of a clean washcloth in breastmilk or formula, and placing in the freezer for a little while. Then offer to your baby to chew on!
- Lots of cuddling: One study actually calls it cuddle therapy which I just think is so cute. Don’t be worried about your baby becoming “clingy” during teething. They hurt and they need a cuddle from their loved one at this moment and that’s ok.
- Gum massage: Use a clean, cool finger to rub your little one’s gums where the tooth is erupting. This can provide some temporary relief to your baby.
- Pain Medicine: Ask your child’s health care provider about Tylenol or Motrin for teething pain relief. Please use their directions ONLY for dosage. Please note: Motrin is not for babies under 6 months of age.
TIPS TO AVOID:
- Although many parents swear by them, please refrain from using teething jewelry. This includes: Baltic Amber teething necklaces, wood/silicone, or any form of teething beads/jewelry.
- Please note: Teething jewelry is a main cause for infant death through strangulation, choking, and suffocation (even supervised daytime use). With regards to the science of baltic amber teething necklaces, they have actually been disproved to be effective at all. The claim is that amber beads release tiny amounts of succinic acid when warmed by the baby's skin, which then passes into the bloodstream and acts as a pain reliever. There is actually no evidence that this is true, and you can read more about that here.
- Avoid teething gels without a prescription. Although common practice when we were babies, many gels have benzocaine in them which are not approved by the FDA at any age. This is because it can cause choking and allergic reactions and is very harmful if used in the first 2 years of life. It also only provides a very temporary relief… so really isn’t worth the risk! Use the above approved options instead!
WHAT TO EXPECT WITH SLEEP WHEN YOUR BABY IS TEETHING!
So technically… teething isn’t supposed to cause any disruption to sleep…. BUT it’s often one of the most reported symptoms of teething, and something that parents really want help with! So here are some realistic expectations:
Have hope: Some babies truly will sleep 12 hours overnight and wake up with 2 new teeth. It’s not unheard of, and it could be your baby!
Don’t be upset or think something is wrong if this isn’t your baby. I am a sleep consultant, and my daughter really struggled with night wakings when she was teething. Every baby is different!
BEDTIME TEETHING TIPS
- Offer chew toys/frozen cloth during bath time to help ease the pressure before bed.
- Give them a gum massage during bedtime routine.
- Offer pain medicine via direction from your child’s pediatrician.
- Offer cuddles and a feeding during a night waking due to teething. Don’t be afraid of things being “messed up.”
- Once that tooth has popped through, make sure to get RIGHT back to your normal routines and lay your baby down awake for bedtime and naps! This is probably the most important part!! Don’t delay this part, because backtracking is much harder.
- They may take a couple of days to get back on track, but be consistent and you’ll have your good little sleeper back in no time!
HAS YOUR BABY NEVER SLEPT WELL?
I have a lot of resources for you! Depending on your individual needs and your budget... I have something to help you!
If you’re ready to get started RIGHT NOW…….I have a variety of self-led sleep guides and courses that walk you through step-by-step plans for teaching your child to sleep, using methods that are totally safe, loving, and research based. I’ll show you what to do at bedtime, how to handle every situation, and how to help your baby/toddler sleep through the night!
If you need more help and you want someone to show you EXACTLY what to do, the Cozy Baby Sleep Course is a step-by-step program designed to teach you how to teach your baby to fall asleep on their own and sleep all night long. With personalized sleep plans, guidance on building a solid sleep foundation and creating a consistent sleep routine, the Cozy Baby Sleep Course can help you and your baby get the restful sleep you deserve.
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