Teeth, who knew such tiny teeth erupting can cause such major disruption to a new parents' life! We asked Andi Metzler from AM Sleep Consulting to share some background behind why teething causes sleep disruption, so over to Andi...
As parents, we are often quick to blame our baby or toddler's sleep struggles on teething, and yes, it is possible. Some babies do experience discomfort during teething, but it's often not the main culprit for interrupted sleep that we assume it is.
Here are a few points to help you determine if your child is waking from discomfort of teething or is it something else.
- Does your child fall asleep unassisted at bedtime or for naps? If they depend on a "sleep prop" like a pacifier, feed, rocking etc. they often wake in the night unable to link another sleep cycle.
- Does your child wake at a somewhat predictable time (say, every 60-90 minutes)? If so, it's most likely not teething and discomfort is unpredictable. It's most likely that they are looking for their "sleep prop" to get them back to sleep.
- Is the disruption from sleep lasting for more than just a few days? Studies show that symptoms of teething like rash, congestion and cough start a few days prior to the tooth emerging and only a day or two after those little pearly whites start to show.
How can you help?
- Offer cool teething rings or frozen washcloths during the day and bedtime routine. Pain relievers might be helpful, but always check with your paediatrician first.
- Lastly, maintain consistency with how you respond to your little one. This helps prevent confusion and creating any habits that will disrupt sleep.
- Give extra hugs and cuddles and remember that this phase will soon pass.
We also found that this chart is really helpful as to knowing the most likely order and possible age that you can start to see teeth appearing, which is from Web MD.com