Teething is one of the most obvious signs of growth and development during your baby’s first few years. But that doesn’t mean it’s without its challenges. For babies and parents, teething also means pain, crying, and lots of drool. And what about sleep? Do babies sleep more when teething?
Let’s check out the facts to determine whether or not a teething baby sleeps more.
When Do Babies Start Teething?
Believe it or not, babies usually have 20 teeth that are present under the gums in utero, meaning they’re already under the gums at birth. They just need to make their way to the surface, or “erupt”. And considering that a child’s teeth are usually in by 3, that means a lot of action is happening under the gums for a baby! So, when do baby teeth come in?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the first teeth that grow are the central incisors on the bottom of the mouth. These tend to erupt between 6-10 months. The incisors on the top of the mouth will follow at about 8-12 months.
Then, the lateral incisors will come in on both the top and bottom of the mouth between 9-16 months. First molars will start erupting after 13 months and canine teeth will follow shortly after at around 16 months.
Although babies teeth will grow in at their unique schedule, most if not all teeth should be grown in by the time a child is 3.
What are the Symptoms of Teething?
According to health experts, the general symptoms of teething include:
- General fussiness or irritability
- Chewing or gnawing on fingers or fists or other solid objects
- Sensitive, swollen gums
- An increase in drooling
Likewise, it’s important to note that although teething can slightly increase the temperature of your baby, teething shouldn’t be causing a fever. Any signs of colds, vomiting, diarrhea or a fever are not normal symptoms. If your baby is displaying any of these signs, you should consult your child’s pediatrician.
Does Teething Make Babies Sleep More?
By reviewing the symptoms above, this brings us to the main question: do babies sleep a lot when teething? Or do they, in fact, sleep less?
Generally, babies won’t sleep more during teething. If they are sleeping more, the sleepiness might be more related to a symptom instead of the actual process of teething. Acute fevers, for example, tend to make babies a bit sleepier.
However, the American Academy of Pediatrics actually suggests the opposite, stating that the level of pain or uncomfortability from teething can be enough to wake a baby from their naps or from overall sleep. Also, if parents start to change their baby's daytime and bedtime routines to accommodate changes due to teething, that can inadvertently lead to less sleep.
Every Baby is Unique
If you’re wondering whether it’s normal for your baby to either be getting more sleep, or losing sleep, it’s also important to remember that every baby is unique in their growth and development. This is especially true when it comes to teething. Some babies will experience much more discomfort, while others might not even be fazed at all. The impact of teething generally depends on which teeth are erupting along with how many teeth are coming in at a time.
Also, it’s believed that genetics plays another role in terms of how a baby is affected by teething. If an older sibling is hardly bothered by teething, for example, it’s likely that you’ll see those same patterns in younger siblings.
Tips for Relieving Discomfort During Teething
Regardless of your baby’s tolerance for teething, it can still be a painful and uncomfortable experience for babies and parents alike. Here are some of the top tips for relieving discomfort:
- Soothe the gums with something cold. You can use anything from a cool wet washcloth or a clean finger to a spoon or a teether. Or, cold foods such as yogurt or ice cream can provide relief for sore gums. You’ll just want to avoid anything completely frozen as that can sometimes make the problem worse.
- Give your baby something to chew on. Rubber teethers are great for relieving discomfort, but you can also use teething rings or even cold food such as carrots sticks. Just be sure to keep an extra eye on them when they’re chewing on something to make sure they don’t choke.
- Prevent a rash or skin irritation by wiping the drool from your baby regularly. Use a small cloth and make sure you wipe your baby’s cheeks and chin often.
- If you’ve received approval from your pediatrician, you can use medication to dull the pain. Generally, a baby acetaminophen (Tylenol) is used to help reduce discomfort. But be aware that a baby shouldn’t be taking this kind of medication unless they’re at least 6 months old already.
Teething can be a frustrating experience for both parents and babies, but by helping to alleviate pain and discomfort, the worst will soon be behind you. Your baby will be flashing their full-toothed smiles in no time!