Lisa Clegg

Teething and sleep

written by Lisa Clegg

  1. #teething
  2. #advice
  3. #sleep
  4. #chewing
  5. #teethingsymptoms
  6. #teethingadvice

Just when you think you finally have the sleep thing cracked those pesky teeth rock up to spoil the party. Lisa Clegg, aka The Blissfull Baby Expert talks all things teething and sleep.

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Once you have survived those first few months of initial sleepless nights and night feeds, You may begin to feel like you're finally coming out the other side as your baby begins to sleep for longer stretches of time and may even start sleeping all night.

And then the joy of teething starts.

In my experience, with the babies that are in an established routine, It is much easier to pinpoint when teething symptoms have started. This is because instead of being their usual happy self, they can become clingy, unhappy, go off feeding and generally just need a lot more attention.

Some teething symptoms to look out for are:

  • Red cheeks- One or both face cheeks feeling hot to touch
  • Wanting to chew on anything they can get their hands on including their own hands and feet
  • Generally unhappy and clingy
  • Refusing to feed
  • More soiled nappies than normal and much looser too
  • A red sore bottom
  • Pulling at their ears.
They will chew anything!

If your baby is showing at least three of the signs above then you can say, with a fair amount of certainty, that it is likely to be teething pain that is the problem. Many parents will notice a few more unusual signs every time their baby cuts a tooth, i.e their baby always develops a cold. However I have tried to stick to the more common signs that are normal for the majority of babies. Her usual relaxed, happy, day to day personality may disappear completely when teething and you may be left with a grumpy, clingy baby who refuses to eat or drink much and won't let you out of her sight. There are various things you can do to help relieve teething symptoms.

A few are listed below

-Giving her a cold damp flannel to chew on-the ridges in the flannel will massage and soothe her gums

-Allowing her to chew or suck on various teething toys that you can keep cool by leaving in the fridge. A sterilised spoon also gives great relief for hot, sore gums.

Gnawing on a spoon or toothbrush can help

-Rubbing her gums with a clean finger to massage and soothe her sore gums.

-If she is taking solids then offering cold pureed food will be better than warmed food.

-You can also give cold finger foods like carrot in one of the special baby mesh feeders.

Cold melon

I'm sure you will also get lots of advice from friends and family about what worked for their babies too. Try different things and you will quickly find what works for your individual baby to give relief. There are various gels, powders, liquids and teething products on the market as well as necklaces all containing particular ingredients.

As a parent you have to try different things to find what soothes your baby the best. Be aware that what worked for your first, may not have the same effect on your second, or third child, as all babies are different. If your baby seems really upset and in pain then you can offer infant paracetamol or ibruprofen once, over 12 weeks old. In my experience ibruprofen based medicine is more effective on teething, or any other type of pain, than paracetamol based products.

A baby who is teething will NOT self soothe or calm herself down until you eliminate the pain. You may find she seems fine during the day but can get quite upset at night.

It is sometimes easier for her to cope with a little teething pain during the day as she has lots of distractions in her environment to take her mind off it. At night, while lying in a quiet dark room she has nothing else to think about so the rumbling pain in her gums will cause her to wake up frequently crying. She may settle initially with a bit of reassurance and a quick cuddle but keep waking repeatedly on and off all night.

With more severe pain, usually when the tooth is very close to cutting, she will be almost hysterical with the pain and continue to cry even if you comfort her. This is the time to try the teething reminders you prefer. Most will take a good 20-30 minutes to take effect-particularly medicines like ibruprofen or paracetamol-during which time you should sit and cuddle her to keep her calm. Once you know she is no longer in any pain then you can encourage her to settle back to sleep until the morning. It's normal to have quite a few unsettled nights when new teeth are cutting-particularly the Molars and Canines, which cause very bad pain and even affect eating habits.

Unfortunately teething is one of those things that goes on for months. It tends to come in bursts of a few days of symptoms and then nothing again for a few days. To start with, despite your baby showing obvious signs of teething pain, no teeth will appear. They have to gradually work their way up to the top of the gum to 'cut' through so it can take weeks or even months before you see the first one appear.

Below is a diagram to give you some Idea of the rough age that teeth are expected:

Teething diagram

However, please do not worry if your baby doesn't follow the order suggested and gets teeth in a different order-none of my three children did!

I hope you have found the above post helpful. I provide a FREE parenting email advice service so if you would like to contact me directly with any questions regarding your individual baby, then I’m happy to help anytime.

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