Is your little one teething? Discover how to get a teething baby to sleep, the tips and products that help, and how to handle it.
I can’t remember how many times my baby would fuss and drool and I’d declare, “He must be teething”… only for no teeth to show.
Another fussy episode would pass, and again I’d say, “Okay, now he’s probably teething,” yet still not a single tooth would poke through. After a while, despite showing the most common signs of teething, I got tired of blaming his fits on his non-existent teeth.
That is, until the fiasco when, for about half an hour or so, he was inconsolable.
Nothing that normally soothed his irritability worked—not looking out the window, not swaying to music, not even his fire truck. (Which, to its credit, bought me about 30 seconds of calm before he erupted in screaming again.) A quick walk around the neighborhood finally calmed him down. I had never seen him that frantic.
And forget about sleep or having a normal bedtime routine. He was extra clingy and fussy, including having a fever for a couple of nights. He’d wake up every few hours and want my husband or me to comfort him. The pacifier seemed to help him sleep, but he’d get mad later at night because he couldn’t put it back in his mouth.
No doubt, many babies struggle to fall and stay asleep when they’re teething. Perhaps sleep for you and your family has been more disrupted than usual. Your baby screams in the middle of sleep, and you spot four teeth cutting through all at once.
Being so tired and up all night is only making him sleep horribly during naps as well. Maybe he’s extra clingy and fussy, refusing to sleep alone. He hasn’t felt like himself lately since teething—in fact, he seems to have regressed, especially with sleep.
In short, it’s been a horrible few days, leaving you and your baby exhausted from it all.
Rest assured, friend, you can get through these next few sleepless nights. As always, the best place to direct your questions and concerns is with your pediatrician. Check with her before following anything you read online.
Then, below are the best solutions I and other parents found to be effective in helping a teething baby to sleep. Hopefully, you can see those pearly whites soon enough and steer your baby to better sleep once again:
Table of Contents
1. Cold teething rings
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Helping your teething baby sleep starts with keeping him comfortable while he’s awake. One simple trick is to offer a cold teething toy he can gnaw on to soothe and cool his tender gums.
I would place these teething rings in the freezer (keep them protected in a bag or wrapped in a washcloth) and offer them to my baby to play and chew on. This was especially handy when he fussed, as chewing on it helped ease the discomfort he felt.
Here are a few toys to look at:
Free resource: If you’re struggling with putting him to sleep, you can teach him to self-soothe and sleep on his own. Whether you’ve tried to teach him to self-soothe in the past or are just now considering it, take a look at the 5 key mistakes to avoid. Join my newsletter and grab this resource below—at no cost to you.
2. Nighttime cooling gel
Many parents swear by applying a cooling gel on their babies’ gums to ease teething symptoms. Baby Orajel comes in two varieties—daytime and nighttime. You can even give her a gum massage as you apply the gel to soothe discomfort.
Whichever cooling gel you buy, stick to those that are non-medicated. The gel shouldn’t numb your baby’s gums, only give it a cooling sensation (for instance, avoid any that contain benzocaine or belladonna). Follow the directions on the box, including the appropriate age range.
3. Pain relieving medicine
Check with your pediatrician or pediatric dentist to see if over the counter medication can help relieve your baby’s teething pain and discomfort. Always choose the infant version of these medicines (not the adult version). Follow all instructions correctly, including your pediatrician’s.
I also found that giving the medicine like Tylenol or Motrin around an hour before sleep helped it “kick in” right when my baby was about to sleep.
4. Soothing tablets
Another option is to offer soothing tablets. You place one tablet at a time on a baby’s tongue, where it dissolves quickly. You can also dissolve the tablets in water and offer it as a drink.
5. Stuffed animal pacifier
One of the biggest challenges parents face during teething is the frustration of the lost pacifier. Their babies could actually sleep through the night with their pacifiers… that is, until they can’t find them in the middle of the night.
A simple trick? A combined stuffed animal and pacifier!
Many parents swear by the WubbaNub, a stuffed animal with an attached pacifier. You can imagine how much easier it is for your baby to find it in the middle of the night. It’s also much less likely to get lost, especially if he holds it in his arms.
Tip: Prevent excess drool from causing a rash on his skin by strapping a bib around him, even when he’s not eating. This makes it easier to wipe his saliva and spit up and prevent it from touching his skin for long periods.
6. Wait a few minutes
As a new mom, I rushed to my baby’s side at the slightest sound of a whimper, thinking that’s what I was supposed to do. Instead, I was miserable and, more importantly, denied him the chance to soothe himself back to sleep.
If your baby happens to wake up in the middle of the night, give him a few minutes to settle. All babies experience discomfort, and teething comes in all levels of pain. If he sounds like he’s complaining about mild pain, giving him a few minutes could help him learn to better manage small-scale discomfort.
Even better: he just might put himself to sleep after those few minutes. Not only have you extended his sleep, but he has also learned how to do this in the future.
7. Take turns with your partner
When all else fails, create a plan with your partner to tag-team your baby’s teething wake-ups.
Perhaps you handle one night while he does the next, or you take the early evening shift and he does the morning one. He could manage the morning rush with your other kids while you catch up on lost sleep with the baby.
And most importantly, remind each other that this is temporary. That after this stretch of teething, you can always “re-train” your baby back to his old sleeping habits and help him sleep well once again. But for now, relying on one another can be a huge source of support and help when you most need it.
Teething is never fun, for either parent or baby. But learning how to get a teething baby to sleep is possible, especially with the tips and remedies you learned.
Help your baby relieve discomfort with cold teething rings, soothing gels and tablets, and pain relief medicine. A stuffed animal pacifier combo can help him stay asleep longer. Give him a few minutes before rushing into the room right away—he just might soothe himself back to sleep.
And finally, tag team with your partner or other adult to get through these difficult nights. No matter how frustrating teething can be, remember that it’s not forever.
As much as I wanted to “blame” teething for just about every fit and cry, I also knew that it truly did cause some pain and discomfort. Thankfully, nothing that these tips and tricks—and a quick walk around the neighborhood—couldn’t solve.
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