Sleeping Well in Spite of Baby Teething

Author Name: Heidi Holvoet, PhD
Medical fact-check: Dr Leah Alexander, M.D., F.A.A.P.

Can baby teething disrupt sleep? It sure can!

Recognize teething signs early on and provide effective remedies to prevent discomfort and troubled nights.

Sadly, teething is often underestimated as a sleep disturber. We all know that it can cause quite some discomfort. But did you realize that it is one of the main causes for not having your little one sleep through the night? Or not being able to self settle?

Cute baby standing on her own photo courtesy of crazeeloki

Some babies - and their parents - hardly realize their teeth are cutting through. They just dribble a bit for a while and then suddenly: a new tooth is there!

For many others, cutting teeth is simply painful . Apart from straight pain, the constant pressure on baby's gums can make her restless and irritated. Because of the discomfort in their mouth, many babies lose their appetite too. To be precise, they're still hungry as usual, but because feeding is painful - the contact with the (bottle) nipple or the food on the sore gums - they just eat less which makes them seem to have reduced appetite.

And so, directly and indirectly, nights are also affected. The discomfort often plays up more than during the day - when there are more distractions and parent soothing nearby.

Baby teething and sleep

Thanks to teething ...

... a baby who has been sleeping through the night for a while, can suddenly start waking up frequently again. This can typically be waking every hour, crying or screaming. This painful waking can have a pattern of occurring for a few consecutive nights, alternating with a few nights of better sleep until the painful tooth erupts.

... a baby who easily settled for sleep in her cot at night or nap time, can suddenly take hours to wind down and doze off

... a finally found sleep schedule can get all mixed up again.

Don't despair, not all your previous efforts are lost, and you can keep your nights decent with these 3 must-do tips:

To keep sleep optimal:

  1. Recognize the early teething signs

    To know what is happening to your baby and to treat effectively, it is important to know the main teething symptoms.

    Read more about when baby teething starts and signs of teething to look out for.
  2. Stick to the usual bedtime routine and schedule as much as possible

    Do this with extra care for your baby's needs right now:

    • she may need an extra feed - day or night - especially when her feeds are smaller because of lesser appetite
    • if you breastfeed, extra (small) feedings are great to help soothe the pain
    • she may need extra cuddling and comforting to help her settle

      No need to over-indulge either. Try to strike a healthy balance : remain determined and, when you have looked after her pain and discomfort as much as you could, do not be afraid to stick to the schedule or routine you had before.

      The regularity, because of helping her sleep more, will help overcome a large part of the discomfort.
  3. Apply effective teething remedies

    Usually simple home remedies are enough to soothe baby's pain. Sometimes mild medical remedies can be of great help.

With all these basics, you should be able to keep sleep at its best in spite of baby teething .

However, some babies' teething troubles seem to go on forever. One painful tooth after the other can make you wonder if you wanted those teeth after all ...

Take courage then, keep in mind the above basics and remain confident. You'll be rewarded one day soon and finally be proud of those first teeth.