Babies start teething between four and seven months after their birth. As a mother you get excited, when you see your baby teething. However, teething is extremely painful for a baby, causing many issues, including difficulty in sleeping. So, here are some ways in which can ease the pain and put your baby to sleep.
Signs and Symptoms of Teething
Teeth poking through the gums are painful, which is alleviated by applying pressure on the area. Hence, teething babies bite and chew on whatever they can find to suppress the pain, which is a natural instinct.
Teething makes babies drool more than usual, so if you notice excessive drooling, chances are your baby is teething. Keep a towel or napkin handy to wipe your cild’s chin every now and then.
The pain from teething puts babies in a sour mood. Expect your little one to be fussy and irritated during the teething phase.
4. Disrupted Sleep
The discomfort babies face may prevent them from being able to sleep peacefully, and you may notice your child periodically waking up in the middle of the night or having difficulty going to sleep.
5. Loss of Appetite
Though this may seem contradictory, the suction from nursing can cause the baby’s sore gums to feel worse, causing a loss of appetite. Try and soothe the pain before nursing, and you may notice the appetite rising.
6. Cheek Rubbing and Ear Pulling
You may notice you child pulling his/her ears or furiously rubbing his/her cheeks. This could happen as a result of shared nerve pathways in the cheeks and ears. However, excessive ear pulling could indicate a ear infection, so keep a look out.
Tips to Help a Child Sleep During Teething
As a new mother, you will receive ample advice on parenting, which is bound to boggle your mind. Your baby will be in intense pain, due to which his/her sleeping schedule may get disrupted. Therefore, here are some useful tips to get your teething baby to sleep.
1. Give the Baby Something Cold to Chew On
Cold desensitises nerves and reduces pain. This is why, nowadays, more toy companies are creating rubber or gel-core based teethers that can be refrigerated. Teethers are special toys, made to be chewed on by teething babies. The pressure on a baby’s teeth, caused by chewing, can provide relief from teething pain. The instinct to begin chewing to reduce the pain of teething is natural in humans and animals. If you do not have any refrigerator-friendly teething toys, you can substitute it with a clean, frozen cloth, instead. Do not freeze teething toys, as that will make them hard and could hurt your baby’s teeth. Simply chill them before handing to your baby. Also, always be present to supervise your baby when he/she is chewing something. Teething toys are designed to be chewed and not swallowed, so keep an eye on your baby.
2. Massage the Gums
Your baby might refuse to sleep alone when he/she starts teething. As you lay the baby on the bed, massage his/her gums with your finger. This will ease the pain and help put your baby to sleep. If he/she wakes up in the middle of the night, you can massage the gums again. As you massage your baby’s gums, you will be able to feel where the teeth are coming in. Focus on massaging these areas, in particular. Ensure that your fingers are clean before massaging your baby’s gums.
3. Give Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea helps reduce inflammation, soothe stomach aches, boost immunity, promote relaxation, and induce sleep. Giving chamomile tea to a teething baby will provide relief from teething pain and even induce sleep. Chamomile tea can be given to a baby through a feeding bottle at room temperature or when mildly warm. You can even soak a clean rag in chamomile tea and freeze it before giving it to your baby to chew on. However, it should be noted that chamomile tea should not be given to babies who are less than six months of age. You can give it to a baby who has crossed the half-year mark, but it is advisable to consult a doctor before opting for this remedy.
4. Feed the Baby Cold Food Before Bedtime
Cold soothes pain in the gums and a full stomach induces sleep. You can give your baby cold yoghurt or cold fruits and vegetables, such as grapes or boiled carrots. However, keep in mind to give him/her age-appropriate food, i.e. fruits or veggies that can be chewed properly. An option here would be to buy a mesh feeding bag. This is used to start young babies on solid foods safely, without the risk of swallowing too big a piece, and choking.
5. Create a Calm Environment
To make your baby sleep, it is important that you set a sleeping schedule. When babies have a set pattern of sleep, their bodies adjust accordingly. A bed-time routine automatically makes them sleepy as bedtime approaches, as it subconsciously signals that it is time to sleep when certain activities are performed in a set sequence, for a period of time. It essentially works on the same principles of habit formation. The routine could include a warm bath, changing to pyjamas, reading a short story, singing to your baby or rocking him/her in your arms until he/she falls asleep.
Breastfeeding calms your baby. As your baby begins teething, he/she might gnaw on your nipples and hurt you. To prevent this, massage your baby’s gums prior to feeding. Breastfeeding is an effective way to soothe your baby and put him/her to sleep.
7. Use Pain-killing Medication
This should be your last resort if you’ve tried the other methods, without any positive result. Pain-killers can help alleviate your baby’s pain and put him/her to sleep. Always consult your doctor before resorting to medication. Do not buy over-the-counter pharmaceutical products for this. Painkillers such as Ibuprofen have special, diluted formulas made particularly for children and babies. Do not use adult painkillers. Also, consult your paediatrician before giving any medication to your little one.
How Long Does the Teething Pain Last?
It is hard to say how long teething pain lasts. For example, a baby might feel the pain for months before the teeth actually come through. Meanwhile, others may feel the pain once the teeth have formed in the gums and are making their way out. The intensity of pain may differ from one baby to another. However, the pain mostly goes away once the tooth has grown out of the gums. While your baby’s front teeth do come up in the first year, the back set of molars appear after the first year, so there is a period of relief from teething stress.
- Always watch your baby if he/she is chewing on something, be it a teething toy, rag, or food. A baby may choke on it, so be careful.
- Consult your physician before you give painkillers to your child.
- If the teething toy is secured on a string around your baby’s neck, do not leave it on when putting your baby to sleep. It could get stuck somewhere and end up strangling the baby when he/she rolls over.
- A common, but dangerous home remedy is to rub crushed aspirin tablets on your baby’s gums. Do not opt for this remedy, as it may cause the baby to become extremely sick.
- Babies sometimes develop a habit of pulling their ear while teething, as the pain of teething may transfer to the ear canal. If the pain is excessive, consult a doctor, as your baby could be suffering from a ear infection.
- Do not use over-the-counter creams or gels on your baby’s gums as a numbing medication.
1. Should I Continue Sleep Training During Teething?
Yes, sleep training should continue during the teething phase. Keep in mind that this “phase” comes back around after the first year, and indeed, it will take up to 3 years before a child has all his/her milk teeth in place. Teething will disrupt a few nights’ sleep, but you should continue sleep training your child. Sticking to regular sleep timings and enforcing them by building a bed-time routine is one of the keys to putting your teething baby to sleep. Foregoing sleep training because your baby is teething and cannot sleep due to the pain usually makes it more difficult for the baby to sleep.
2. Can Teething Make Some Babies Sleep More?
According to a popular website, some parents have anecdotally reported that their kids slept more while they were teething. Teething can make a baby feel a bit dull, and hence, he/she might sleep more. However, there is no evidence to prove this. Your baby might be sleeping more because he/she is going through a growth spurt. Babies are in a growing phase, and although their growth may not always be constant, it can be rapid at one time and stable during another time; hence, the term “growth spurt”. Children going through a growth spurt are observed to sleep more, whether while taking naps or sleeping through the night. Teething is a natural process, and sometimes, the natural process can involve pain. As a mommy, you know best, so do what you think is right.
Meanwhile, stick to sleep training because, in some years, your child will be alright, waking up well-rested after a sound night of sleep, with a precious smile showing off brand new white teeth, which is all you need to forget the tough teething nights.