Yes, it can, but the truth is that it doesn’t have to. When a baby has well established self soothing strategies they’re likely to be able to cope with night wakings a lot better than a baby that doesn’t have any skills to put himself back to sleep independently. Your baby might just need a little bit of guidance to get through it.
Before we get into a teething coping strategy, let’s discuss it a little. Teething symptoms should usually last for approximately eight days, so if your baby has been waking in the night for more than a fortnight, then there may be another underlying issue that begs further investigation. It is also possible that your baby has become dependent on parental intervention to get back to sleep.
The human body is quite amazing – merely being pregnant and birthing a mini human is a testament to that. Our baby’s bodies are no exception and watching their little teeth appear is exciting and fascinating. Their gums move to make way for the new teeth to push through to the surface of their gums. According to many experts, babies don’t experience nearly as much pain as we think they do while teething. It can’t be denied that they experience some level of discomfort, and we see this when they chew on their toys and fingers and drool all over the place. These new and strange feelings could well be quite overwhelming and unfamiliar and it may be that baby is struggling to cope with this change causing them to be a little more fussy or grumpy that usual.
Now, if your baby suddenly starts waking in the night and you suspect that they’re teething – don’t panic. Firstly, remember that teething is going to happen, for the next three years. Secondly, all the usual rules can’t just go out the window, because you’ll potentially be up for 3 years of disrupted sleep otherwise – and nobody wants that.
And, yes general fussiness and night wakings may sometimes be caused by teething, but in many instances when we don’t know what has caused a change in our baby’s normal sunny disposition and previously good sleep habits – teething becomes our go-to in the blame game. Do any of these statements sound familiar:
My baby has an upset tummy – “…must be teething”.
My baby is really cranky – “…must be teething”.
My baby has a nappy rash – “…must be teething”.
My baby has green poop – “…must be teething”.
My baby has a fever – “…must be teething”.
My baby keeps waking up, crying in the night – “must be teething”
…and so it continues.
Having a definitive answer or reason for something is a comfort to us, but sometimes it is okay not to have the answers. Simply being the constant, caring and loving parent that you are is enough to see your baby through this period of adjustment and discomfort.
My teething strategy would be to maintain a consistent approach to bedtime routines and to treat night wakings the same. Allow baby a short opportunity to settle back to sleep and if it doesn’t look likely – a quick check to rule out any other issues such as a dirty nappy, vomit in the bed, a fever etc. Should baby have a fever feel free to provide some pain relief (as recommended by your paediatrician) and once baby has calmed down – to place him back in bed, awake. Try to avoid re-introducing a sleep prop such as rocking, patting, feeding back to sleep and especially not going to your bed, because believe me – baby will love that and it may take some convincing to fall asleep independently the next time they wake up in the night.
Has teething caused you a bit of a sleep regression? Do things seem to be falling apart at the seams? If you need some help to get back on track – book a FREE 15 minute Discovery Call with me to see how I can help you over this hurdle and back to sleeping well again.