So I mentioned on Twitter tonight that I "don't believe in teething anymore" and some people, reasonably, were all, "Wha-ha-ha?"
I tried to answer but it wouldn't fit in 140 character segments, and I thought about writing it down somewhere else because I don't really use my blog for stuff like this, but then I realized that just because I don't doesn't mean I can't, so here we are.
Obviously I BELIEVE in teething, in that I know that babies cut teeth. Trust me, I know - Linus and Ambrose have each cut six in the past six weeks. They've done a LOT of chewing on Mama (mostly my fingers, thankfully - I don't tolerate biting while nursing).
But when we were visiting the pediatrician with the newborn twins, he happened to mention conversationally that "teething isn't real." And I had the same reaction as my Twitter friends: "Wha-ha-ha?" Of COURSE teething is real. Babies cut teeth, and it makes them act crazily, and that's just the truth.
He mentioned, though, that studies have found that parents often attribute symptoms to teething when their children are not actually cutting teeth. He hypothesized the symptoms are probably caused by developmental leaps or by mild viral infections. I pooh-poohed, and ranted a little to Bryan on the way home.
But then I thought about it more, and I thought about how with Camilla and Blaise, I blamed lots of fussiness and various symptoms on teething... only to have the symptoms pass before they cut a tooth. Or, conversely, I'd find they'd cut teeth and expect fussiness/sleep/whatever to improve, only to have the symptoms continue for a while, apparently unrelated to the teething.
I went looking and found that the doctor wasn't lying about the studies. I thought about how it makes sense that people would imagine a cause->effect relationship with teeth. A baby acts a certain way, eventually his behavior changes, the only obvious thing that happened in the meantime was a tooth cutting - of course you're going to think that teething caused the craziness.
So I decided to pay super-close attention to Linus and Ambrose as they teethed. Our kids are late-ish teethers, so the twins didn't get their first tooth until almost 7 months, on December 3rd. They cut the first one (bottom right middle incisor) on the same day, after having basically no fussiness or unusual sleep interruption beforehand. They had a couple truly awful nights later that week, which we thought might be connected to the second tooth cutting, but they also had a cold then (thanks, older siblings) and the cold passed and the sleep got better before the second tooth came.
Over the next six weeks, ending in mid-January, Linus and Ambrose cut five more teeth each. (They now have the bottom middle incisors and all four top incisors.) During that time, they had some random fussiness, including one particular week where all they wanted was for me to hold them. (That is REALLY FUN when you have two babies.)
But here's the thing: I was watching closely, checking their mouths every day, and their behavior seemed to be almost completely unrelated to their teeth. We did notice a couple times when one twin would have a slightly rougher night than usual, and in the morning he'd have a new tooth. (Conveniently for our purposes, L&A cut their remaining teeth at different times and even in different order.) But that was the extent of it. Otherwise, their fussiness and random sleep interruption seemed to be unrelated to teething.
So that is why I don't believe in teething any more.
I'm curious: what has your experience been? I'm interested! Especially if you've got some hard data (or as close to data as you can get with this kind of stuff, anyway).
Share your stories! Tell me I'm an idiot! Let's all be mom-geeks together!