Can teething effect sleep?


Lots of parents start sleep training and have fantastic results only to hit a few bumps in the road at a later time. Teething is not the main cause of sleep problems but if your baby is not a good sleeper anyway then it can make your baby's sleeping worse, and is often blamed as being the culprit for poor sleep (and more often than not a variety of other issues).


If your baby is sleeping through the night and then starts to teeth - it can be hit and miss as to whether teething pain will effect your baby.  Some teeth may be more troublesome than others, but usually those babies that sleep well prior to teething will breeze through it better. If your baby appears really grumpy and in pain through the day, then it could genuinely be teething pain at night too.

You can usually tell by 'the cry' for genuine pain (Pain cries can be higher pitched) than other types of cries. 


And as you staggered into the room all blurry eyed, check for other signs too that could signal teething:


Huge bright red cheeks which are hot to the touch and a snotty nose (clear not green).


In the mouth, can you see a purple lump and a little white head ?


Does your child whimper or have a hard time letting you touch their gums?


Are they upset & fussy no matter what you do?


When in pain you can try holding them in different positions, cuddles and kisses but they will often just continue to cry and throw themselves around like they don’t know what to do with themselves - when the pain is genuine you can't ignore it, your job is to treat the issue at the root cause (no pun intended)!


What I mean by this is:  rocking your little one back to sleep won’t stop the tooth coming in, nor will it take the pain away.


So what will work?  some medicine and cold wash cloth would help.


Deal with the pain first, deal with the sleep second. Its hard to sleep if you are in pain.

Teething signs often mimic a cough and cold - here are some signs of pre-teething and actively teething



  1. Drooling - sometimes accompanied with a rash on the chin

  2. Clear runny nose accompanied by a cough

  3. Hot red cheeks (not to be confused with a fever - having a fever is NOT a sign of teething but a sign of an infection/illness)

  4. Diaper rash

  5. Increase in bowel movements (looser stools - sticky like peanut butter)

  6. Increase or decrease in breast / bottle feeding

  7. Decreased interest in solids - batting spoon away or aversion to food

  8. Discolored swollen gum where the tooth is coming through

  9. Biting down on things (anything that fits in their mouth including you!) 


Here are some tips on how to deal with teething pain at night


  1. Put lanolin on your baby's chin to help with any chin / neck rashes'

  2. Use soft tissue for your baby's nose so that it doesn't get sore

  3. Check your baby's temperature to rule out fever - if your baby has a fever seek medical advice.

  4. Use extra barrier cream on your babies bum and let some air get to it if you can (by leaving them diaper free for a bit)

  5. Offer the breast / bottle if it provides comfort in the day

  6. Don't force your baby to eat solids if they are refusing - it will pass once the tooth has cut

  7. Use a teething gel if given the go ahead by your doctor or pharmacist on your babies swollen gum, or other homeopathic drops/powder

  8. Administer some pain relief if given the go ahead by your doctor before bed and if your baby wakes up in pain during the night

  9. Offer a cold wet wash cloth for your baby to chew on, or cool melon rind (if they have started solids)


Other teething advice:

Teething pain peaks as the tooth is just cutting the gum - once it is through the teething pain will greatly subside. The area that is causing discomfort is usually swollen and can be purple in color and look inflamed. Of course, if your baby is in pain you need to offer them comfort during this time and do what you can to help them.


The extra attention should stop once the tooth is in and their daytime behaviour supports that they are no longer suffering. You may find that your baby is still waking up at night and crying so at this point you may have to do some reassurance and check visits to make sure that they are okay but keep your visits minimal and low key.

Although you may be tempted to bring them into bed with you, try to just get up with them and sit on the couch, dark quiet environment, offer some medicine and cuddles.  Of course you will feel shattered the next day If your night has been disrupted.

Don't just assume that it is teething though, if you don't see any of the signs and symptoms above then it could be something else - extreme difficulties in going back to sleep, can also be linked to:


  • Poor daytime naps

  • Gas pain

  • Cognitive development

  • Developmental milestones


Have Questions? Drop us an email or book a free 15 minute call.





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