It’s a fact: teething problems are definitely worse at night. OK, it may not be an actual fact, but it certainly feels like it. Most babies start teething at around six months old, although this can begin earlier or later.
This may be the time that your little one seems to be finally settling into longer periods of sleep and now those pesky gums have now sent your baby to back to hourly wake-ups. It’s painful. So, follow these tips to ease their discomfort (and yours).
Numb the gums
Rub a little sugar-free teething gel on your baby’s gums. It numbs the pain for around 20 minutes (in which time they’ll hopefully be asleep again). The most common ones are: Dentinox teething gel, suitable from birth; Calgel teething gel, suitable from three months; Bonjela teething gel, suitable from two months; and Nelsons Teetha teething gel, a homeopathic formula suitable for babies of all ages.
Ease the pain
If he seems particularly uncomfortable, offer the appropriate dose of a paracetamol medicine, such as Calpol (or the equivalent chemist or supermarket own-brand, which is cheaper and will work just as well). Don’t do this every night, though, and always check the dosage instructions.
A classic symptom of teething are rosy cheeks, and some parents say their baby’s temperature rises, although there is no evidence to support this. Make sure your baby is comfortable (the ideal temperature for their room is between 16-20°C). Use a lightweight blanket or lightweight baby sleeping bag. An ear thermometer can tell you his temperature. A fever above 37.5°C is NOT a sign of teething, according to experts, so be sure to get it checked out.
As well as the red cheeks on his face, the poor little mite could have a red bottom, too. It’s thought that loose bowels occur during teething because there’s more saliva passing through their tummies than usual, and the result can be one very sore bottom. Four words of advice here: lots of nappy cream!
He may well be cramming everything into his mouth right now, but while teething rings are a great alternative for cuddly toys/car keys / iPhones during the day, they are best avoided at night, as they could be a distraction that keeps your baby awake. And you don’t want any more reasons for him to resist sleep!
Help prevent night-time soreness around the mouth from all that dribbling, by wiping a little petroleum jelly around his mouth at bedtime.
Feeding may not be the answer
The breast or bottle may soothe teething discomfort (although sometimes, feeding can worsen the discomfort for teething babies) but only offer if your baby is still feeding at night. If you have already managed to stop a night-time feeding habit, don’t be tempted to give a feed to comfort him through teething discomfort, as you will just be back to square one! Instead, try other ways of comforting, such as gently stroking, or singing to him.
Remember, it will pass
If you’ve been through the trauma of sleep training, you may be horrified to think you’ll have to do it all again. However, you should find that, once cracked for a first time, it’s often more easily achieved on subsequent attempts. And he may just head straight back into good habits once the tooth is through. Of course, there are a few more teeth waiting in the wings to cause trouble, so perhaps bookmark this page …