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Written by Lavinia
Certified Paediatric Sleep Consultant
27 July 2020

Is Teething the Culprit for Poor Sleep?

When it comes to babies, teething is the most common culprit for just about everything.

Whether baby is feverish, crying more than usual or having a runny poo, teething often gets the blame. And when it comes to sleep, this is especially true. 

Naturally, you're going to want to find out why your baby is screaming more frequently at night. And if a tooth is erupting, that offers a prompt and simple solution. After that, you think the infant is in agony and rush to comfort them. To help your baby back to sleep, you may repeatedly nurse, bottlefeed, carry, rock, pat or use other soothing techniques through the night. This frequently results in the baby getting reliant on those soothing techniques to help him fall asleep/back to sleep every night, every time he wakes up... whether or not there is any tooth erupting.

Fast forward to a year a later - and the child is still being rocked, fed, or otherwise helped to sleep.

So, there are a few things to consider before you put off sleep training on account of teething.

First of all, teething symptoms only persist for around eight days, so if your baby has been wailing multiple times in the night for two weeks, it's might be that he has discovered the power of crying to rouse his favourite person, who will then help him fall back asleep. Further, the discomfort of teething symptoms is not nearly as great as parents usually anticipate. To make room for impending teeth, the baby's gums reposition themselves. Many experts assert that teething does not cause significant pain.

So, while I am not advocating that you completely disregard the teething process, I suggest that you remember that new teeth are not the villain they are frequently painted to be.

Therefore, teething shouldn't prevent you from instilling healthy sleep habits in your child. In fact if they have been sleep trained (ie taught how to fall asleep on their own), they are more likely to experience uninterrupted, full nights of sleep even while they are teething.  Furthermore, your baby will be much happier during the teething period if you give him or her the adequate and undisturbed sleep they require.

Article written by Lavinia
Certified Paediatric Sleep Consultant
Based in Singapore
Trained in the Sleep Sense Program

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