Teething is an inevitable part of your baby’s development — and it can be a nerve-wracking time for parents as their little ones struggle through cutting those first few teeth.
No matter the time of day, a fussy baby who’s teething can be hard to calm. But at least during the day, you expect to be awake. So, what can you do to soothe your little one and get them back to dreamland at night, so the both of you can enjoy some shut-eye? Here are some tips.
Generally speaking, most babies begin teething somewhere between 4 and 7 months of age. But some children may begin teething earlier or later than this window.
Typically, you’ll know if your baby’s nighttime restlessness is due to teething because they’ll be exhibiting other common teething symptoms. Along with difficulty sleeping, these symptoms usually include:
- excessive drooling
But if your baby is experiencing a rash (other than a drool rash), fever, or diarrhea, something other than teething may be the cause of their discomfort. In that scenario, you should speak with your child’s pediatrician.
Your baby’s gums are irritated and sore, which can explain the nighttime fussiness. So when they wake up crying, try offering them a cooling gum massage with a durable teething ring. (Check out these top picks!)
With teething toys, make sure that they’re solid plastic rather than gel-filled, and store them in your fridge or freezer. Inspect the teething ring after every use to ensure that there aren’t any broken pieces that could pose a choking hazard.
Also, avoid teething jewelry such as necklaces and bracelets made from amber, marble, silicone, or even wood. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against them because they pose a choking risk.
Sore gums can really benefit from a cooling sensation. This trick is easy to use and doesn’t require any special equipment — just the foresight to keep a few washcloths prepped in the freezer so you’re not scrambling at 2 a.m.
Take a clean washcloth, soak it in water, and then place it in the freezer for at least 30 to 60 minutes. While you should make sure that there aren’t any rips or strings, these washcloths can serve a dual purpose. Along with instantly cooling your baby’s sore gums, your little one can also gnaw on them as long as they like.
Depending on whether this is their first tooth or not, you might let your baby gum at your fingers. Just make sure that your fingers are clean before you let them have fun. For added comfort, dip your fingers in cool water to help calm their gums.
This is similar but involves a little more effort — and therefore, wakefulness — on your part.
Make sure your hands are clean before you stick them in your baby’s mouth, but use your fingers to apply gentle pressure on your baby’s gums. Sometimes simply rubbing the gums will be enough to give your baby sweet relief from teething pain.
While most people don’t associate drool with being uncomfortable, letting your baby sit around with a wet face all day can contribute to rashes, which adds to the discomfort at night.
Even though you can’t catch every dribble, make sure your little teether is as dry as possible during the day so they go into the night more comfortable. This would be a great time to invest in durable bibs that don’t let drool soak through to the clothes beneath them.
Sometimes all you need is a bit of distraction to help redirect your baby’s attention elsewhere. While this might not work for every baby, adding a white noise machine to your baby’s nursery can help them drift off to la-la land despite discomfort.
Some white noise machines also serve as night-lights or can be controlled remotely.
This tip should be more of a last resort as opposed to your first soothing technique. But sometimes, if your baby is struggling to sleep, some over-the-counter medicine might be the trick you need.
Talk with your baby’s pediatrician first before you give it to your baby so you can confirm the proper dosage. But baby acetaminophen (Tylenol) given roughly 30 minutes before bedtime can help to block mouth pain and help your little one drift off to sleep.
However, avoid teething tablets and topical numbing medications designed to be used on a baby’s gums.
Often, numbing gels don’t provide sustaining relief because your baby is drooling so much that the medication is washed away. Teething tablets contain
This might sound like a tall order, but teething — much like many other periods in your baby’s life — is a temporary situation. No matter how tempting it might be to let teething disrupt your baby’s regular bedtime routine, don’t do it.
As much as possible, stick to the routine you’ve already established and try to keep your little one as comfortable as possible so that they can fall asleep.
Rest assured, you’re not the first parent to deal with this. And no matter how stressful it might seem, you’ll get through it! Try to maintain perspective, keep your little one comfortable, and give them extra cuddles.
Teething is one of those baby milestones that most parents have a love-hate relationship with. On the one hand, it’s exciting to see your little one grow and develop. But on the flip side, those first few teeth are usually when teething symptoms are at their worst and nighttime sleep is most disrupted.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to ease the discomfort and make sleep possible for both you and baby. And if you notice a fever or rash, call your pediatrician — there may be something else going on.