How sick are you of me saying “teething is the worst”? But yet again I am faced with ANOTHER teething woe: baby not sleeping! This one might be the worst because not only is baby grumpy from not sleeping, you aren’t sleeping and therefore no longer functioning. Raise your hand if you are exhausted!
This seems pretty straight forward- baby is in pain. It is hard to sleep when you are in pain. However, that is not the only thing that could be driving the no sleeps. Teething can also cause change in eating habits which could mean your little one could be suffering from gas or hunger, both of which cause some pretty difficult sleep conditions. In addition, teething causes both extra snot and extra drool which could create some difficult breathing conditions for baby and again disrupt sleep.
Teething Specific Problems and Solutions
This is where we dive in deep because who really cares why as long as you can fix it and get back to sleeping! So first step, you need to figure out what is causing the sleep disruption, in other words, identify which symptom seems to be causing your baby the most problems.
- If baby seems in pain: focus on pain relief (duh). I take sleep very seriously so I tend to bring out the big guns at nighttime and go straight for the medicine. Talk to your pediatrician about what is safe and how much to give. Typically, infants can take Tylenol and babies over 6 months can take Motrin. If you are really against medicine then try focusing on more natural ways of relieving pain such as a cold washcloth for them to chew on before bed, massaging the gum and applying counter pressure. (Check out more natural remedies here).
- If baby seems fussy: this could be general discomfort or gas issues. Try to keep their diet consistent as much as possible, as that will help reduce the gas. However, if discomfort persists I highly recommend this. You can also try tummy time, belly massage, patting and bouncing.
- If baby has snot issues: treat this like a cold. Put a humidifier in their room, slightly incline their mattress and try to keep the airways clear (using a booger sucker thingy or the likes). Baby safe chest rub can help clear stuffy noses as well!
General Soothing Solutions
If baby is still having trouble, there are a bunch of general soothing techniques that are very important and helpful not only during teething but beyond. First, ALWAYS STICK TO THE ROUTINE. Children thrive on consistency starting at a very young age, so even though baby is struggling keep the bedtime routine as close to last’s nights as possible. It will help baby get in the mindset of relaxing/calming time. Some people have great success adding a bath to bedtime as it can help relax baby and potentially ease discomfort, however my kids see water and turn the bathroom into a rave so this never worked for us.
Next, try essential oils! I just recently introduced lavender into my daughters humidifier at night and it has helped loads! She falls asleep much more quickly and doesn’t toss and turn nearly as much (she was basically a ninja in her crib so no she is just like a normal restless baby). Read more about how essentials can help baby especially when teething here.
For very young babies you can also try the 5 S’s: Swaddle, Side, Swing/Sway, Shush, Suck. Some of these will work well into babyhood but some will need to be phased out rather quickly (ie swaddling is not advised once baby can roll). All of these techniques aim to help baby feel secure and trigger a response to relax. In general, the more relaxed and calm a baby, the better they will sleep!
Middle of the Night Wakings
If your kids are anything like mine, it has nothing to do with how easily they go to bed, and everything to do with how many freaking times they wake up overnight. So the best strategy for this is, again, CONSISTENCY. It might be very difficult not to give in to them when they are super upset, but if they o not typically sleep in your bed, don’t let them do it just because of teething. I know I am probably coming off as the wicked witch, but habits form quickly and once they get used to sleeping with you or being up at 3am and watching tv then they are going to always want that. The point of this article is first help baby sleep, but more importantly get you some more sleep. So don’t give in because then you are setting yourself up for a ton of future sleepless nights well after the teething pain has come and gone. And I speak from experience. I did not do this with my first and from 4 months until well over a year we woke up EVERY TWO HOURS. Yup. I wish it on no one!
So there you have it. Hopefully your babe is a teething champ and your normal sleep cycle will become regular once again, but until then one of these tips should be able to alleviate some of your troubles. If not, coffee, all. the. coffee.