UGHHHHH teething. Every mama wonders and worries about teething and her babe. Babes can’t tell us if it truly is their teeth bothering them, or a host of other potential issues.
Children have twenty baby teeth. That’s enough to make a mama cringe. So how do you cope with teething and make your baby comfortable through the process?
On average babies get their first tooth around the six month mark but they can emerge anywhere from three to fourteen months. There is varying opinions on how much discomfort teething actually causes. You can find studies and articles that say it does not cause irritability, fever, diarrhea, etc and others that say that it definately does.
So what do I think? I believe every baby is different and some do suffer the effects of teething. I know that if your baby has great sleep habits it becomes much easier to differentiate when your baby really needs you.
I will share an example. I was working with a family with a beautiful eight month old baby girl. She was up 3-5 times a night and everyone in her house was exhausted, including her. She was irritable and so were her parents. When I met with her mom and dad they were concerned about her teeth. Were they hurting her? How could they know? They felt the need to help her every time she woke, just in case she was in pain or struggling. I get it! No one wants to leave their baby when they could have a problem, nor should they. My solution revolved around bedtime, the magic ticket to a great night’s sleep. We changed her routine and no longer helped her to sleep. She was supported and she did not “cry it out”, and within two nights was sleeping through the night! Her parents were bewildered. So it wasn’t her teeth? It must not have been as we never left her to cry in the night, she just needed some guidance on how to fall asleep and just like that she was sleeping. Babies her age (over 6 months) are ready to sleep long stretches but most just don’t quite know how. Fast forward to a month later- one night their baby girl woke distressed in the night. Her parents went to her and offered comfort (cuddles, and some Tylenol), and then put her back in her bed to fall back asleep. I received an email the next day from mom who felt it was so much easier to read her baby’s cues and to offer her comfort when she needed it. How awesome!
Help your baby develop great sleep habits and I will guarantee teething will be “easier”. I can’t promise they won’t wake in the night, but when they do it will be easier to help them meet their needs. Babes who sleep end up needing less medication for teething because most babes who sleep teeth easier. If they are struggling you will have to experiment with different remedies. Let them chew on cool washcloths, or BPA free teethers (there are so many great ones out there!) in the day. Some mamas swear by amber teething necklaces or homeopathic remedies. To be honest, I can’t tell you if they do or don’t work- again every baby is different. Experiment and find what works for your little one.
I would not wait till all twenty teeth come in before you help your little one find sleep. Once they are sleeping, teething will get easier. Which makes life so much easier for your babe and will take some of the guess work out of motherhood.
Questions? I am here to help! Contact me here and I will get back to you! Like this post? Please share it!
Carrie Bruno RN, IBCLC