Just when you thought you had everything figured out with your baby's sleep, it can take a turn for the worse. This is all too common in your baby's first year. With such rapid growth happening practically before your eyes, it's not realistic to expect your baby to be a perfect sleeper all the time...even if you've followed all of the sound sleep advice to a t. Teething is one of those physical milestones that is all part of a healthy baby's development. But it can be a tough time, especially when it starts affecting their sleep. Soothing a teething baby at night is an important part of helping them feel comfortable while also allowing them to get the sleep they need.
We have some great tips for you to help soothe your teething baby to get them sleeping more soundly at night. But first, it's important to know that teething is actually what your baby is experiencing. Let's look at the signs and symptoms of teething.
Know the Signs and Symptoms of Teething
Teething symptoms are generally easy to spot - especially when you notice multiple signs going on at the same time. But if you're looking for an exact time frame of when your baby's teeth will start showing up, we really can't give you that. The age at which a baby gets teeth varies widely. According to Kids Health, most babies will be in the 4 - 7 month age range when their first tooth erupts, but it's normal for it to happen soon after birth or as late as one year. Beyond that, once that first tooth pops, more will follow. And that's going to be going on for quite awhile. Which means knowing the signs of teething and how to soothe them is important to figure out early on.
Here are the signs and symptoms to look for in a teething baby:
- Enflamed and swollen gums: Though this one won't always be present, (the discomfort can begin before this point) once you see it it's a good way to tell that your baby is teething. Remember that the discomfort begins before the tooth pops through, so don't expect to see one just yet.
- Drooling: Most babies drool some anyway, but teething will bring on more excessive drooling.
- Rash around the Mouth: Excessive drooling means extra salive hanging around your baby's mouth. This can cause a rash and redness.
- Biting: You will notice your baby biting, chewing and gnawing on anything he can get his hands on (more than usual.) This can include your nipples if you breastfeed.
- Resisting Feeding: Though sucking and chewing on a nipple can help some babies' sore gums feel better, for other babies this may make it more uncomfortable. If you notice this, your baby could be teething.
- Difficulty Sleeping: Teething can be very uncomfortable, making it hard for your little one to fall asleep, stay asleep, or both. We'll give you tips on how to help with this today!
- Rubbing of Cheeks and Ears: If you see these symptoms along with the others noted, it likely could be tied to teething since the discomfort can radiate to these areas. But be sure to rule out an ear infection, which can also be suggested by these symptoms.
- Fussiness: This one is no surprise as you know how it feels to be in pain - and teething can be painful! If your baby is acting extra crabby, clingy, and crying more, teething could be the culprit.
If you're reading these and thinking to yourself that several of them sound like they could be symptoms of an entirely different problem altogether, you're right. That's why we suggest looking for several of these symptoms going on at the same time. Otherwise, you may just have a sick baby on your hands...it can be hard to tell! But, if your baby isn't running a fever and is generally eating normally, the symptoms listed likely point to teething.
Nighttime can be especially difficult for a teething baby. With nothing to distract them during their waking hours, the pain becomes more noticeable to them and they also no longer have you by their side as a comfort.
So, what are you to do to soothe your baby during the night so everyone can get better rest? Let's discuss.
Best Methods for Soothing Your Baby at Night
It's no secret that helping your baby learn to sleep well during the first year can be a grind. So when teething begins, it just throws another wrench into the good sleeping habits you've worked so hard to teach your baby. First and foremost we know you just want your baby to be comfortable and free of any pain...but, of course, that sleep thing is important for everyone to stay healthy, too.
Here are our top tips and tricks for soothing your baby at night:
- Keep the routine. First and foremost, stay steadfast in your sleep routine, as we discussed in, "Getting Your Baby to Sleep in a Crib." Making changes to the calming transition you created for going from day to night won't do your baby any favors. Your goal is to relax your baby as much as possible and sticking to the routine as much as you can will help.
Safe comfort. Use a Dreamland Baby weighted swaddle or weighted wearable blanket (depending on age and if they're rolling over yet) as part of your baby's sleep routine to calm them before bedtime. Unlike other sleep sacks, this one's weighted component is designed to increase melatonin and serotonin production helping them to be less stressed and ready to drift off to sleep. Part of the reason teething seems worse at night is because an exhausted baby has a more difficult time dealing with discomfort. So anything you can do to relieve this and calm them, helps!
Mom Erin, writes about her experience using the weighted wearable blanket:
"Life changing! Just like my weighted blanket helps me sleep better, it only makes sense that little ones are so calmed and contented by the feel of the Dreamland Baby - nothing is worth more than things to help baby sleep! Makes life so much better."
- Something cold to chew on. When it's time to cuddle and rock your baby before bed, add this step. Have a chilled, damp washcloth or teething toy that has been refrigerated ready to give her to gnaw on while you sing (also so soothing for your little one!) and snuggle her. And if your baby takes a pacifier, having a refrigerated one on hand for your little one can be just what they need. (Never give your baby anything that's been frozen to chew on...it's too cold!)
- Gum massage. You can also rub your own clean finger over her sore gums to soothe them. These steps often numb your baby's gums enough to calm them before bed so that they can go to sleep.
- Safe medication. According to the Mayo Clinic, Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Motrin (ibuprofen) are perfectly acceptable to give a teething baby to eliminate their pain so they can sleep. Be sure to get the go ahead by your child's doctor that they can use one of these over-the-counter remedies, however, and always follow proper dosages.
Distract your baby with white noise. When babies are all alone in their crib at night and having nothing to focus on, their teething pain becomes more apparent. Having white noise to give them something else to to hold their attention can help them fall asleep independently. This article shares the best kind of white noise to utilize.
If we're being honest (and we always are), you'll want to figure out the best methods that work for your unique baby early on in the teething process...because it's not going away anytime soon. Even though the discomfort of one tooth coming through might be over in a few short days, your baby will be getting teeth until the age of two or three. However, as your baby grows and you have tricks to help alleviate the discomfort, it will hopefully become less of an issue.
What to Avoid to Soothe Your Baby's Night Teething
There are lots of ways to comfort your teething baby. But there are some unsafe practices you'll need to avoid.
- Surely you've heard of teething necklaces, bracelets and anklets - and it's likely you've even seen babies wearing them. But should you use them to help comfort your teething baby? Unfortunately, we cannot recommend these. The FDA released a statement in 2018 to warn of their hazardous risk. They state, "The risks of using jewelry for relieving teething pain include choking, strangulation, injury to the mouth and infection."
- Additionally, the FDA has warned against the use of numbing agents such as Orajel (Benzocaine). It can be a serious risk to babies and children.
- Lastly, when we here the word "homeopathic" we often assume it's something safe to use. Unfortunately, the homeopathic tablets and gels marketed for teething can be a danger to your child, as explained in this research from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
We know you want nothing more than to soothe and care for your tired, cranky baby who is in pain, but be sure your methods (like the ones we recommended) are safe and doctor approved.
When to Consult a Doctor About Your Baby's Teething
Teething is completely normal, as is the discomfort that comes with it. Some of the telltale signs and symptoms of teething, however, can look very similar to certain illnesses. Ear infections would be one example. If you've tried our suggestions to soothe your teething baby at night, and your baby still doesn't seem to be comforted, we suggest calling your pediatrician.
Though it's not necessary to take your child to the doctor for teething, you do want to rule out any possible illness if you suspect it could be something else. Don't ever worry about taking your child to the doctor only to find out that "nothing is wrong"...it's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your baby's health. Finding out it's "just teething" would be a relief!
FAQs about Nighttime Teething
Do some babies sleep more when teething?
Though some babies feel very uncomfortable while teething (and will let you know it!) for others it may hardly affect them negatively at all. According to the Baby Sleep Site, teething is a possible reason that your baby is suddenly sleeping more. But unfortunately, this won't probably be true for most babies.
Should I continue sleep training while my baby is teething?
In our article, "A Helpful Guide for Sleep Training Your Baby," we talk about how helpful a bedtime routine and gentle sleep training methods can be for your little one. You'll want to continue this as much as possible as your baby thrives off of the routine you've set for them. Though we wouldn't recommend starting sleep training with a newly teething baby, if you already have begun, it's best you stick to the plan as much as possible (but knowing that you may need to add in some of the extra comforts we listed above.)
Does teething cause fevers?
Your best friend may swear that a fever is indicative of teething, but according to Healthline, there is no evidence to suggest that fevers are caused by teething. Instead, an illness is likely the cause and we suggest reaching out to your child's pediatrician.