Teething is probably the number one cause of night waking and daytime fussiness for infants from this age until 2 years. Signs of teething include excess drooling, chewing on everything in site, constant gnawing on fingers (both yours and baby’s), and long periods of unusual crankiness and night waking. The nights of baby sleeping for 6 hour stretches are gone (if they were ever there in the first place). Teething pain usually starts one or two months before teeth are even visible. The pain continues several weeks at a time, and then baby may have a break for several weeks until the next set of teeth start pushing their way through. Try rubbing an ice cube over the swollen gums. Frozen teething toys also work well. You may safely use Tylenol once or twice a night for two or three weeks during the worst periods. Try to only use Tylenol at night unless baby is really uncomfortable during the day or needs it during naptime. After a few weeks of using Tylenol, you should give your child a break for about a week. Clickhere for dosing information. You can also try Hyalins teething tablets (this is a more natural remedy). At six months of age it is safe to try ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil). Anesthetic teething gels can also be used carefully – use only a tiny amount. Three drawbacks are that they numb the entire mouth, taste terrible, and only last a short period of time. Click on teething for a more detailed discussion.
- The four or five month “ear check” visit
Almost every parent will bring their baby in around this age to have their ears checked because baby is fussy, sleeping poorly, and pulling on her ears constantly. Parents are naturally worried that their baby has an ear infection. If baby has cold symptoms (stuffy or runny nose and cough) with the above symptoms, than an ear infection is possible. But if baby has NO cold symptoms, then the ear pulling and fussing is probably just teething. This information may save you an unnecessary trip to your doctor for the five-month ear check.
- Drool cough
Another common symptom at this age is the ever-present “drool cough” from teething. Parents will often state that their baby has had a sudden, choking, junky sounding cough numerous times a day. If baby seems otherwise healthy, and shows all the signs of teething, than this cough is generally just part of teething, and not a chest cold.
- Infant stimulation
This is a very important aspect of parenting your baby. Take some time each day to interact with your baby. Spend time laughing, playing, tickling, handing him objects, and encouraging developmental milestones. This is a worthwhile investment in baby’s future.
- Night waking
If your baby has been a good sleeper over the past few months, well, we have some bad news. Teething pain may start to wake baby up more frequently at night, starting as early as four months of age. Baby will usually want to nurse for comfort when he awakens. He will also need to nurse because he is hungry once or twice a night. We suggest you use Tylenol or Hyalins as mentioned above, and allow baby to nurse when he awakens. Some well-meaning people may advise you refuse night nursing so that baby does not make it a habit. We believe baby is too young at this age to refuse this legitimate need. Baby will alternate between weeks of better sleep and weeks of more night waking as teething comes and goes over the next year. Click on nighttime parenting for a more detailed discussion on this issue.