While the sight of your baby’s new tooth is an exciting milestone for you, it can be painful and scary for your child, at least at first. By this time, your baby probably already has an established sleep schedule, so how will the advent of this new, painful experience affect their ZZZs? We asked some veteran parents about their children’s teething experiences, and here’s what they said:
Expect a few sleepless nights yourself.
If you’ve got a little one who hasn’t gone through teething yet, then expect a few sleepless nights yourself. When my daughter was teething, it affected her sleep for almost a full week. We went through a lot of Orajel to try to numb her little gums, but she was still not a good sleeper during that period. Luckily, the disruption to her (and our) sleep schedule didn’t last too long.
First tooth is the worst in terms of bad sleep
Both of my babies had horribly interrupted sleep when their first tooth emerged. They were up every 1-2 hours. But all the other teeth after that weren’t so bad. It was kind of like, with the first tooth they didn’t know what was going on, but then they were a little more used to it.
I always like to tell new moms that the first tooth is the worst in terms of bad sleep – it won’t happen every time.
Every baby is different
My first son cut his first two teeth at 5 months old and it was miserable for all of us. He was very fussy during the day for about 4-5 days, but once those two teeth cut through, the rest seemed to be a breeze for the most part. He would get a little fussy during the day or at night and we’d give him Ibuprofen periodically, and he seemed to do fine with cutting teeth. He did wake up for another dose of Ibuprofen, though. Since night-waking can be caused by a multitude of reasons, we knew it was related to teething when he was also fussy during the day.
He was a terrible sleeper for the most part but when it was teething, we only had to give him a dose of Ibuprofen and then wait ~20 minutes for it to kick in. His younger brother, on the other hand, was a better sleeper, but it seemed that every tooth was like a mountain coming through his gums! He was miserable every time another tooth would start cutting through, however, he was easily soothed with a topical gum gel. Within 5-10 minutes, he would fall asleep and then take a good nap and sleep mostly through the night. We gave him Ibuprofen periodically, too, but he seemed soothed more by the numbing gel than anything else. Teething didn’t impact his nighttime sleep very much because he was a deeper and better sleeper than his brother.
In my experience now as a sleep consultant, some babies will wake at night for 4-5 days when the tooth is cutting through and then go back to sleeping how they were before the tooth cut through. It’s easy to try to blame teething for all sleep problems but, in general, teething seems to be a less common reason why babies wake at night on a daily basis. Just as it was different for my two sons, every baby is different.
Waking up multiple times a night
All three of my kids were affected by teething, especially at night. What I noticed the most was the desire to breastfeed almost continuously through the night (we co-slept and breastfed on demand.)
They would also have a hard time staying asleep once they did fall asleep. They were woken up easily or would wake themselves up quite often.
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