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Sleep Problems

What Can I Do When Teething Is Affecting Baby's Sleep?

Thankfully, our child is usually a good sleeper, but now that she’s teething, her nights are totally thrown off. What should we do?

Cutting an entire mouthful of teeth is a long process — two to three years — and the experience of teething varies from child to child. Some babies are very sensitive teethers while others pop out tooth after tooth without any evidence of pain and suffering.

For a sensitive teether, typically the most painful teething period lasts two to three days. During this time, make baby more comfortable. During the day, cool teething toys are helpful. For nighttime, sleep experts Conner Herman and Kira Ryan recommend Infants' Motrin for babies older than six months. Check with baby's pediatrician before giving your child any medication.

If you decide to use a pain reliever, give it about 15 minutes before bedtime, say Herman and Ryan. Then, if baby wakes up at night and lets you know she’s uncomfortable, you can give her another dose if at least 6 to 8 hours has passed since bedtime. Keep these nighttime visits as quiet and unexciting as possible. And if she’s inconsolable at night, do whatever you need to do to make her feel better. She’s naturally a good sleeper, so assume she’ll fall back into that routine after this intense teething period passes.

This heightened pain should subside in a couple of days. But, as always, trust your instincts. Each child is different and you know your daughter best. Here's what worked for Bumpies:

"At night we use Motrin — it seems to work much better for baby than Tylenol." — lpinman

"I put baby's teething toys in the fridge. That cold really helps." — 12105mrsmon

"We tried an amber teething necklace and it didn't help at all, even though some moms swear by them. A frozen washcloth was her favorite. I put several washcloths in water and then ball them up individually and wring them out and freeze them on a cookie sheet.  She will chew and slurp on one for almost an hour." — Tina206

"My daughter has a teether that vibrates when she chews on it. It's the only teether she'll take." — MJK8

"I had a bag with about an ounce of frozen breast milk in it. I'd break off a little chunk with a spoon and give it to baby to eat." — lisab612

"Every time baby is done teething, her sleep habits go back to normal without us doing anything different." — mamaL 

Experts: Conner Herman and Kira Ryan, cofounders of Dream Team Baby and coauthors of The Dream Sleeper: A Three-Part Plan for Getting Your Baby to Love Sleep

By Conner Herman and Kira Ryan, cofounders of Dream Team Baby