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Cutting teeth and losing sleep: 8 bedtime relievers

When that first tooth emerges, it’s pretty cute - but getting to that point can be rough on babies (and their parents) because the discomfort can disrupt sleep.

Knowing how to be ready can help you relieve sore little gums—and stick to your sleep routine.

Meet our expert

Katelyn Thompson

Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Owner, Sweet Pea Sleep 

When do babies start teething?

Between 6 months and 2 years, babies grow 20 teeth, starting with the bottom two. However, some baby teething can start as early as 2 to 3-months-old. 



Central Incisor (Upper)

6-10 Months

Central Incisor (Lower)

8-12 Months

Lateral Incisor (Upper)

9-13 Months

Lateral Incisor (Lower)

10-16 Months

First Molar (Upper) (Typically Most Painful)

13-19 Months

First Molar (Lower) (Typically Most Painful)

14-18 Months

Canine (Upper)

16-22 Months

Canine (Lower)

17-23 Months

Second Molar (Upper) (Typically Most Painful)

23-31 Months

Second Molar (Lower) (Typically Most Painful)

25-33 Months

How to tell if it’s teething

If your baby is unusually fussy, drooling, has tender or swollen gums, and is constantly putting little fingers or objects in her mouth, she’s probably got a tooth on the way. Here’s some other teething symptoms to look out for:

  • Diarrhea (all that excess saliva can make baby’s poop runnier than normal)
  • Refusal to feed (nursing and eating can be uncomfortable for a baby with tender gums)
  • Biting—in their hands, toys, or you (while you’re breastfeeding)
  • Rashes around the mouth or chin from drool
  • Rubbing or pulling of ears and/or cheeks
  • Sore gums

Ear rubbing and pulling can also be a sign of an ear infection—so be sure to check with your pediatrician if you're unsure.

How to avoid a baby teething nightmare

Studies show that less sleep heightens a child's sensitivity to pain, so it's for your sweet baby's sake to be getting as much sleep as possible while going through the ups and downs of teething.

baby teething nightmare


If your baby has a little trouble with bedtime already, teething will make a exacerbate sleep in a more dramatic way. Work on good independent sleep habits with your baby before teething strikes. That way you'll have a good foundation of sleep to work from if teething does throw an occasional snag into your habits and routines!

How to soothe a teething baby at night

Soothing a teething baby can be a difficult task yet, perfecting this skill can help you and your teething baby sleep as much as you both need. Teething symptoms can be incredibly painful for your little one, and your baby may need a lot of care and support during this time.

To soothe your teething baby to sleep at night, try giving them a gum massage or offering a cooling treat. Both of these methods will help to reduce the amount of pain that your baby is feeling, which will then help baby sleep.

You could also try playing white noise to help your baby sleep, as this will distract your child from the pain that they are feeling. These are all great ways to help your teething baby get the sleep they need.

How to get a jump on bedtime

Easing the pain soon after it begins can help reduce discomfort at nighttime.

Keep it chill

Treat swollen gums with a cool washcloth or give your baby a chilled (not frozen) teething ring to provide relief.

Apply a little pressure

Massaging your baby’s gums with your finger, or giving her hard foods (if your baby is eating solids) may feel soothing.

Use an-over-the-counter remedy

If your baby's extremely fussy, you may want to call your pediatrician. He or she may recommend children’s pain meds like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If using any type of pain relief on the advice of your pediatrician, give it to baby about 45 minutes before bedtime so they're comfortable while falling asleep.

Consider natural remedies

Many moms swear by the naturally calming properties of chamomile tea for teething babies. For babies 6 months or older, 1 tsp of concentrated tea mixed with warm 30ml water can do the trick*.

Other moms diffuse essential oils in the nursery or try amber teething necklaces to help with teething pain. When considering a natural remedy, be sure to do your research, and run it by your pediatrician—just to be sure. 

How to maintain progress

Addressing teething pain before bedtime can help—but if your baby wakes at night in discomfort, try these nighttime tips to keep your baby’s bedtime on track.

Put in the paci 

Many babies find a lot of relief using their pacifiers to suck and chew while teething. You can even throw your handy dandy paci in the fridge to give your baby's gums cool treat. 

Try a teething ring or mitt

A chilled teething ring may do the trick—try giving this to your baby before picking her up, so she can continue learning to self-soothe. Alternatively, teething mitts go right over your baby’s hands—great for younger babies who can’t hold onto rings or toys.

Just remember that your baby should be supervised while chewing on any teething rings, toys, or mitts.

Stick to your routine

When babies have a set pattern of sleep, their body adjusts to it, and they become sleepy as bedtime approaches. Foregoing sleep training during teething will actually make it harder for your baby to get to sleep in the future.

Maintain a routine that includes: a warm bath, a massage, a feeding and soothing, and gently weighted Zen Sleepwear.™

Give extra comfort for acute teething

Acute teething is when baby's gums are red and swollen with the tooth visible and clearly about to poke through the gum.

If you're considering starting a new routine, it's best to wait 2-3 days for the acute teething to pass, but if you're just trying to make it through the night, providing a little extra comfort can go a long way. Feed or rock your baby to help soothe them to sleep, but try to allow your baby to ultimately fall asleep independently. 

Remember, your baby will teethe for 2 years—so you don’t want to stop sleep training now! Your best bet during these years is to help your baby learn to self-soothe, so she can fall back to sleep on her own.

*Chamomile tea can trigger allergic reactions in some babies. It's always a safe bet to discuss with your pediatrician before introducing any type of oral





Tips for teething pain

Commonly Asked Questions about teething baby

What are the most common symptoms of teething?

The most common signs of teething include sore gums, a mild temperature, a rash (usually this will be on their face), your baby may be gnawing or chewing on things a lot. It may also be baby teething symptoms if they regularly rub their ear or begin dribbling more than usual. Teething may cause your baby to act out of character or become irritable, which isn't helped by the lack of sleep they may also be experiencing.

How effective are teething toys?

Teething toys can help to relieve the symptoms of teething by giving babies a safe surface to gnaw or chew. Doing this can help your little one to soothe any pain that they may be feeling in their gums and distract themselves from the discomfort that is often caused by a new tooth coming through. Teething toys will also stop your baby from chewing on other objects that may be less safe for your child.

At what age do babies start teething?

The age at which your baby will start to teeth will be completely unique to them. Some babies will start to teeth before 4 months of age while others may not begin until after 12 months. The majority of babies will start to teethe at around 6 months of age.

Can a baby be teething at 3 months?

Some babies will show signs of teething a lot earlier than others. Early teething is nothing to worry about and could just be a sign that your baby's development is ahead of the norm.

When is teething pain the worst?

Teething pain is usually at its worst during the four days before a tooth emerges and the following three days afterwards, and it can have a huge impact on baby sleep. If your child is still irritable a few days after the tooth has emerged, there may be other problems going on.


Other Teething Resources

Healthychildren.Org: Baby Teething Pain

Healthychildren.Org: Baby Teeth Teething and mouth pain


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  • Do you make something for the baby over 4 mos that are teething

    Toni Cookston on

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