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Author Anthony Doerr famously said, “Watching teething babies is like watching over a thermonuclear reactor – it’s best done in shifts by well-rested people.”
So how do you ensure your baby still gets enough sleep when a new tooth is putting pressure on their gums? How do you offer sympathy when all you want is sleep?
Your baby is more likely to stay calm when surrounded by a soothing environment. This means low light, soft music or white noise, and a relaxed mum and dad. Keep the home quiet and peaceful until the teething stage is over.
Prevent gum irritation and inflammation by feeding your baby soft foods at night. Hard foods like Bellamy’s Organic Toothiepegs Teething Rusks can cause temporary relief, but they can irritate the gum over time and cause baby to wake.
There’s a difference between a cry for attention and a cry of pain, and recognising these will help you determine how you soothe. While it’s important to comfort your baby during the teething stage you don’t want to undo your hard work of establishing good nightly routines, so be careful not to offer too much attention. Only pick up your baby if they’re in real anguish and try settling back to sleep with gentle patting or rocking.
A chilled flannel can be comforting to gnaw on, as can chilled water in a feeding cup. Consider keeping cold items by their bed in times of teething, or wash your hands before going to them to offer a clean finger to rub on the gums.
Teething gels can be effective in providing instant relief to gums but they should be used sparingly. Never use gels more than directed by the instructions on the product, and avoid using gels before feeding. Paracetamol can be administered with the right dosage, but only to babies over two months old. Avoid aspirin, and as the teething stage can be a long process use painkillers sparingly. Remember to consult your healthcare professional for any medical advice.
If you baby is clearly in distress and you breastfeed, breast milk could be your secret weapon. Breastmilk is full of natural painkillers and the vibrations from your breast can help soothe gums.
If your baby is still waking after the teething stage, it’s important to return to your normal sleep pattern as soon as possible. Your baby may have become dependent on your presence during their time of pain, but it wasn’t that long ago that they were practicing self-soothing. It’s important you remind them of this as soon as the teething stage is over.