Infant teething and sleep is always a topic of conversation in my industry!
I can’t tell you how many times I get asked: “Should we sleep train if our baby is teething?” Parents are often concerned that their little ones are crying from the discomfort of teething, and I don’t blame them!
I never recommend parents sleep train if their babies are sick or experiencing pain.
But does teething cause enough discomfort to impact sleep? The research might surprise you!
Keep reading to learn about the signs of teething, if teething has an impact on sleep, and how to soothe a cranky, teething baby!
The Signs and Symptoms of Teething
Before we talk teething and sleep, let’s first identify the signs and symptoms of teething in infants and toddlers.
First, you should know that teething typically occurs between 6-24 months of age. But keep in mind that every baby is unique and develops on their own timeline. I have a friend who’s baby got his first tooth at 4 months old!
Signs and symptoms of teething include:
- Facial rash
- Chewing, sucking, and biting
- Gum pain, made evident by fussiness
- Sore, red gums
- Decreased appetite for solid foods
It’s important to know that, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, teething does not cause fever, diarrhea, diaper rash, sustained crying, or runny nose. Teething does not affect the immune system and does not increase the likelihood of your infant becoming sick.
If your infant or toddler experiences any of the above symptoms, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician.
Infant Teething and Sleep: What the Research Says
In 2000, a study of 125 healthy infants aimed to identify which symptoms may be attributed to teething in an attempt to predict tooth emergence. The study concluded that:
“Many mild symptoms previously thought to be associated with teething were found in this study to be temporally associated with teething. However, no symptom cluster could reliably predict the imminent emergence of a tooth. Before caregivers attribute any infants’ signs or symptoms of a potentially serious illness to teething, other possible causes must be ruled out.”– Symptoms associated with infant teething: a prospective study
M L Macknin 1, M Piedmonte, J Jacobs, C Skibinski
Surprisingly, the study found that many of the symptoms formerly associated with teething were not significantly associated with tooth emergence:
- Sleep disturbance
- Loose or increased stools
- Decreased appetite for liquids
- Non-facial rashes
- Fever over 102℉
- Extreme crying
As you can see, sleep disturbance is not significantly associated with teething, according to this study.
Should You Sleep Train While Your Infant is Teething?
The AAP reports that teething should not significantly impact sleep or cause extreme crying.
That being said, you know your baby best!
I never recommend parents sleep train their infants unless they feel comfortable helping their little one learn how to sleep independently. If you believe your baby is experiencing enough discomfort to make sleep difficult, you might want to hold off.
But here’s something else I’d like for you to keep in mind: babies will sprout 20 teeth before their 2nd birthday (on average). This means that your little one will spend a significant amount of time teething!
If you want to wait to sleep train until your baby isn’t teething, you might have to wait for a long time.
How to Soothe a Teething Baby
Here are a few tips for soothing a fussy, teething baby:
- Use a clean finger, wash cloth, or gauze to rub your baby’s gums. The pressure will help soothe their sore gums.
- A chilled (not frozen!) spoon or teether can also help soothe sore gums.
Over the counter pain relievers can be used as a last resort. Always consult with your child’s pediatrician before giving your little one medication.
- A few symptoms of teething include: sore, red gums; drooling; facial rash; and more.
- Teething does not cause fever, congestion, sleep disturbance, diarrhea, or extreme crying.
- A baby will sprout 20 teeth before their 2nd birthday (on average).
- If you believe your baby is experiencing enough discomfort to make sleep difficult, you might want to hold off on sleep training.
- If you want to wait to sleep train until your baby isn’t teething, you might have to wait for a long time.
If you want to learn more about my thoughts on teething and sleep training and you’re ready to get the sleep you and your little one deserve, schedule your free 20 minute consultation! I can’t wait to chat!