Babies, Teething, and Sleep

Can Teething Cause Babies to Wake Up During the Night?

As I’m sure you know, these little bundles of joy aren’t born with teeth when they first enter this world. Those cute and adorable big, gum-less, tiny smiles are what prevents your baby from being able to eat and enjoy solid foods for the first early portions of their life. Although, when they do finally get to try their first solid foods, it’s absolutely adorable and they have such a wonderful reaction to eating all these new foods they’ve never tried before!

Although teething marks very important point in your baby’s life, it pretty much is a miserable time…for everyone else in the house. While some babies seem to be impervious to teething and don’t seem to mind it at all, others may be significantly affected and might be very distressful for them. To be fair, it is a pretty uncomfortable experience that does a deal with nasty nerve pain. It can even be so painful that it prevents your baby from sleeping throughout the night, which eventually leads to an extremely cranky baby the following day.

Can Teething Cause Sleepless Nights for Your Baby (and You)?

I’m sure many of you are well aware by now – sleepless baby equals a sleepless household. My daughter definitely was able to let everyone know that she was teething and was in pain. When everyone in your house is sleeping poorly due to one child, tensions rise and it makes everyone cranky and on edge. Don’t worry though, there are solutions. Never give up unless you’ve exhausted every single option available to you. I’m going to discuss what you need to be aware of with teething, while giving you guys & gals a few tips on how you can help your baby push through the pain and still get a good night’s sleep!

Common Teething Symptoms

Understanding the common symptoms of teething is the first step you can take to address how to deal with it. By knowing what to look for ahead of time or by paying close attention to find out if your child is experiencing specific symptoms, you can eventually move past this annoying and troublesome phase in you and your baby’s life. Although each baby is always different, the common signs of teething include:

  • Reddish chin, and also known as teething rash (likely due to drooling)
  • Excessive biting/chewing on just about anything that they get their hands on
  • Ear pulling/cheek rubbing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Sore/irritated gums (around where the new teeth are coming in)
  • Loss of appetite/refusal to eat
  • Frequently waking up at night
  • Diarrhea/diaper rash – usually due to constant swallowing of a large amounts of saliva

Your Baby’s Health

If any of these symptoms above sound familiar, then it could definitely be a result of teething. Remember though, before you start second-guessing everything, get in touch with your pediatrician to get a definitive answer on what could possibly be wrong with them. Besides the following symptoms above, you know your baby and how they normally act, as well as their general health. Try to note any changes in mood or behavior and compare them with the symptoms.

If life were easy, teething would be the only thing that could possibly interrupt your baby’s sleep. However, we both know that simply isn’t true. Things like colds or ear infections also have been known to impact sleep in babies as well.

Never ever take chances, and assume that you know what the issue is. If you notice substantial problems such as vomiting, fevers, or diarrhea that aren’t just a one-off occurrence, contact your pediatrician immediately.

Your Baby’s Teething Timeline

Believe it or not, when your baby begins to teeth is reliant on your family’s own history. For example, if you were told that you/your siblings/parent began teething early in their lives, is a good chance that your baby will likely follow. The same can even be said about late teething in babies. While these aren’t 100% indicators, it’s a good thing to be aware of regardless.

The first teeth to come out for most babies are the central incisors. Basically, these are the front and bottom two teeth. Even though this pattern is fairly typical, it varies between babies and if yours doesn’t follow this exactly, there’s no need to be concerned in most situations.

At around the 18 month timeline, your child should have had at least one cute little tooth come in. Regardless of if they just started teething or have been, at around 18 months is a safe bet for most babies. Now might be a good time to schedule a pediatric dentist visit. They can take a look at your baby’s new teeth and determine if there are any problems or conditions that might be causing them issues or could cause issues down the road.

By the time they are three years old, your child should have all of their baby teeth in. It’s so funny, because once my daughter lost one of her teeth, the rest were on their way out!

Tips and Tricks That Can Actually Help Your Babies Sleep While They’re Teething

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our lives. It refreshes us for the next day, makes us feel better, and is 100% essential to having a healthy mind and body. Although, I’m sure all the parents out there understand how frustrating a baby’s crying is and how badly it can impact your sleep. Nobody likes to be sleep deprived, cranky, and frustrated. How exactly can you help your baby sleep – even if they’re teething?

Before I get into this, let me address one thing first. Don’t take advice from old wives’ tales or rumors that you heard that could possibly help your baby sleep – things such as rubbing alcohol on their gums or anything stupid like that. Remember, if you’re not sure about anything at all, or even if you’re almost 100% positive it’s a safe idea, do some research first and or contact your pediatrician. There’s no reason to not use all these resources available to you in order to possibly avoid a potential disaster.

Now, let’s start to dig into what we can do about your baby’s teething.

First, you can use these little things that are known as teething objects to help diminish pain during your babies waking hours. A healthy and safe way that you can help alleviate your baby’s pain is to chill a wet washcloth or even chewing toy. (Caution: do not freeze toys. Besides, washcloths are much more doable) However, a lot of teething toys that are out today are able to be chilled just fine. Not only can they be chilled, but they are non-toxic, BPA free, and are age-appropriate. Also, experts agree that you shouldn’t give your baby topical teething gels or teething rings of any kind. Not only do these items contain substances that are terrible for your baby, but they are also not designed in a safe way. For example, as teething progresses, some babies might puncture these teething rings and basically ingest chemicals. It sounds as horrible as it does. And, if those weren’t enough to scare you, the FDA even warns parents of topical numbing gels because they can actually be toxic to babies. That doesn’t mean that there are no solutions available. My daughter loves this cute little toy rabbit/towel that she absolutely loved to nibble on while teething. She even loves the rabbit still to this day!

Another safe and natural remedy that’s worth trying is try running a clean, cold finger around your baby’s gums. It’s a great, all-natural way to try to treat inflammation that’s safe for your baby. Not only is it safe, but it doesn’t cost a cent. Other cool foods, like refrigerated purées or even applesauce have been known to soothe inflammation on their gums too.

If your baby looks like they are in serious pain, immediately get in touch is your pediatrician. They might even recommend an OTC pain reliever, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen. If they do recommend this, never give them an adult dosage! (Plus: note that babies should never ever be given aspirin. It’s been associated with Reye’s Syndrome, which is a rare but extremely life-threatening disease and if your child develops it, it’s a serious thing to deal with) The good part about these medications is that they typically last 4 to 6 hours, which would make these a perfect opportunity to administer to your child before bedtime. In fact, it’s actually recommended that you provide medication right after the baby feeds so that it’s processed correctly, efficiently, and isn’t given on an empty stomach.

Sleep Training While Teething

I know how frustrating it can be to deal with teething while trying to sleep train your baby. They can be frustrating to every single person in the house. I know how hard it can be also by refraining yourself from comforting them to undo any sleep training progress. Sometimes, it made me extremely sad knowing that no matter what I did, there nothing to help my daughter at that time. That might be how it is for you and your child too.

Here’s an example: don’t start bringing your baby back to your room to comfort them if you’re trying to sleep train them so that they sleep in their crib. Basically, what you’ll do is slowly start undoing all the progress you made and changing the things they re-associate with around them. They’ll start associating you with sleep, and being very dependent on you. To prevent this from happening, try to pick them up from their crib and hold them and make sure that they’re as comfortable as possible until they’ve calmed down. Then, at this point, you can put them back in their crib for the rest of the night and hopefully they can catch up on sleep (hopefully you can catch some well needed ZZZ’s too).

Don’t be afraid to break the rules every once in a while, just don’t make it a habit. I know how hard it is to let them suffer alone while they’re teething. Not only is a tough time for them, but you want to be able to help them in any way possible. As long as you don’t make it a habit, you can definitely snuggle with them all night if you make it special occasion. What you don’t want to do is constantly make this a habit so that your baby loses any sleep training progress that you’ve made with them. If you’re having a hard time figuring something out, try to find some balance or set aside a schedule that allows you to soothe your baby but at the same time, refrain from developing other bad habits that could interfere with their bedtime routine.

What Are the Benefits of Teething?

Even though teething is a long, drawn out, and painful process, it’s a natural and necessary one at that. Teething is one the first step towards allowing your baby to start eating a well-rounded diet. They will slowly no longer be reliant on milk, baby foods, or formula. Everything from spaghetti to meats to fruit can be now eaten by them without the need for blending everything into a gigantic sloppy mess. Plus, watching them eat their first real food is such a treat and one of my favorite memories with my daughter!

Teething also helps your baby and their ability to communicate. How exactly? Your baby’s teeth can help exercise and strengthen the muscles associated with oral motor skills. Basically, this entails chewing, biting, making sounds, and talking.

Teething also helps to grow brain and bone development too. Because teething unlocks new doors for your child’s diet, it actually indirectly helps your baby gain weight, grow, and strengthens their immune system!

What exactly does this all mean to every struggling mom out there who is losing sleep each and every night because their little one is teething? One word: smile! Try to repeat after me: “smile”. While these may be frustrating memories in the present, they are unique, one of a kind them moments that you’ll never experience another one of (unless of course you have more kids). Each and every single baby smile is unique and they don’t last forever, so even though it might seem like a living nightmare to deal with, it will be well worth it all in the future!

About the Author Elizabeth

Hi everyone, I'm Elizabeth. My beautiful daughter Alice keeps me awake occasionally...but when I'm busy and can't sleep, I post parenting tips and different ways you can get your baby to sleep soundly through the night, and even naps!

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