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Does Teething Damage Sleep?


So your baby is acting more fussy than normal and sleep isn't going so well. She's drooling and maybe she feels a little warm. Could it be teething? You noticed some runny stools and a stuffy nose. Last week she had diaper rash, I heard that it caused by teething? Must be teething! Teething gets the blame for just about every symptom under the sun.

While teething is most likely happening, it doesn't necessarily cause as much pain to your child as we may be led to believe. It is a myth that the new tooth cuts its way through the bone and gum. In reality a pathway emerges because of the remodeling of the tissue. Many children felt to be teething, and in need of treatment, may in reality be feeling little discomfort.

For obvious and totally natural reasons, parents are predisposed to preventing discomfort in our babies, and that’s a good thing. The natural reaction when the baby starts crying in the night is to go in and do whatever we can to soothe them. We are fixers. And I'm not saying that teething doesn't cause any discomfort in babies. I believe it can and does. But...babies are teething fairly consistently for about the first 2- 2 1/2 years of their life. Do we really want to give them a hall pass for that long? A few consecutive days off the sleep plan and you run the risk of derailing all you and your baby’s hard work. Most parents are too quick to blame teething for any and all deviations from the norm as soon as they notice that first tooth appearing below the gumline.



Let's say you have been sleep training and your baby is doing well sleeping, and suddenly, you start to see a regression. Your good little sleeper is now waking up a few times a night crying. What gives? Naturally, you’re going to look for a reason why they’re slipping back into old habits. And if there’s a tooth coming in, that provides a quick and easy answer.

And, of course, it’s not fair to leave a baby to cry if they’re actually in pain, so you give in and decide you’ll get back to sleep training once this whole teething thing is over with.

Cut to a year later, and baby is still getting rocked or soothed to sleep every time they wake up, because of course the teething has not yet stopped.


So... just a couple of things to bear in mind before you give up on your sleep training routine due to incoming choppers.


First of all, teething symptoms last for around eight days, so if you’re looking at two weeks of baby crying through the night, it’s either due to some other ailment, or baby has once again learned that crying when he wakes up will bring his favorite person into the room, and she’ll be helping him get back to sleep.


So really what I'm saying is not to ignore teething completely. Of course you should comfort your baby when they are in pain. But, really there isn't a lot that we can do about teething when it does happen, and if we wait until it stops, both parents and babies are going to be sleep deprived and very cranky... which is a symptom of teething I heard...


A teething baby is going to be better able to cope when she is well rested. And while I can offer little support with teething, I can certainly help you with some more sleep.


#teethingbaby #teethingandsleep #sleeptraining


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Marin Epp

Certified Sleep Consultant

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