Hello Teeth Goodbye Sleep!

Hello Teeth Goodbye Sleep!

Sometime between 4 months and 2 years of age your baby will get 20 new teeth. So if the eruption of each new tooth causes you 3-5 sleepless nights, then you can expect to have about 100 bad nights due to teething.


Actually compared to other baby sleep stumbling blocks, teething is relatively benign because:

  • Not all teeth will cause problems (some you won’t even notice until they’re already in).
  • Some teeth will come in simultaneously.
  • Unlike sleep regressions, you can actually do something about teething.

Teething rarely causes any serious problems. There are plenty of resources on how to care for your teething baby and everybody generally figures out which trick of the trade (frozen wash cloth, rubber nubby, gel-filled teether) works best for their baby. Anything you and your baby choose is probably great if it works for you and it doesn’t contain benzocaine (no Anbesol or Orajel even if the label says OK for babies).

But here’s thing about teething and sleeping, none of your frozen bagels or colorful rubber rings work when your baby is asleep.

Help Teething Babies Sleep

I get lots of questions about teething babies. And to these questions I have only one answer.

Tylenol or Motrin are your not-so-secret sleep aids. Why? Because they’re the only things that will sooth sore gums while your baby sleeps.

Depending on which medicine you prefer your average baby dose will cover anywhere from 4-8 hours of teething pain. Which means if your baby sleeps 10-12 hours a night one dose won’t get them through the night.

Giving Medicine at Night

You want to give your baby their first night dose at the most logical time based on the doseage of whatever (Tylenol, Motrin, et al) you are working with. For example if your pain reliever works on a 6-hour dose and your baby wakes to nurse at midnight then you’ll want to give them their medicine at 6:00 PM so that you can give them a second dose during the midnight feeding. This would presumably cover them until 6:00 AM which should be close enough to their normal wakeup to work.

If your baby doesn’t wake up for feedings at night (YAY for you!) but IS waking up because of teething discomfort then they still need a night dose of pain reliever. You can wait until they wake up unhappy however I don’t recommend you do so. Why? Because now you have a fully awake and unhappy baby who will need to wait for ~30 minutes for their pain reliever to kick in.

Ideally you would give them their second dose BEFORE they wake up. Let’s say you gave them a 6-hour dose at 6:00 PM. And they are generally waking up unhappy at 2:00 AM. I would recommend giving them a proactive dose at midnight (which is when they are “due” for more anyway) while they are still largely asleep.

While your baby is still asleep gently put a syringe or bottle dropper of pain reliever into the back corner of their mouth. Very gradually put the medicine in their mouth (not too fast, they’re asleep after all!). Most babies will just quietly swallow the medicine without waking up. Play around with a technique that works for you but preemptive medicine can really soothe over rough teething spells. For even the most painful tooth eruptions you’ll probably only have to do this for 2-3 nights.

When Nothing Works

If no amount of Tylenol and frozen teethers are helping your baby talk to your pediatrician about temporarily increasing the dosage. Generally the dosage for infant pain relievers is very conservative (read: low) and it might be time to give it a little boost.

Anybody else have any teething tips to share?


  1. My daughter is 5 months old and I think she’s teething, she has started waking at around 12:00pm (she goes to bed at 7pm) screaming and I can feel a bump on her gums. She doesn’t want to chew any of her teething toys though. I have been giving her tylenol but it seems like she has trouble swallowing it because it’s thick. Any tips for this? Does Motrin work better than tylenol? What is the dose for Motrin for a 5 month old? The only thing that has been soothing her back to sleep is a bottle, she hasn’t been eating at night for about a month and now wants to again. Is that normal teething behavior? Thanks!

    • Different kids respond differently to different drugs so which will work best is really dependent on your baby. Also your Dr. would be able to tell you the dose (or you could stick with what is on the box). Motrin tends to last longer (generally 8 hours) which makes it a nice alternative for nighttime pain.

      If it’s too thick you could try watering it down. Measure out the appropriate dose and then add a small amount of water to loosen it up.

      Yes – this is pretty normal. The bottle is also very soothing and probably helps her feel more comforted. Hopefully after the teeth erupt you can wean back off the bottle (see more on that here):

      • hello Alexis this is Jesse Fanning I really need your help me and my fiance has an 8 month old boy he is going through the whole TV process so sleep for her and i is not very good right nowhe does not sleep through the night at all the occasion Lee comes in our bed as well I am told by my fiance that the teeth cutting is that in bearable so he needs to have some love I think that the teething is bad but there is something that we are doing wrong please help me I really need to quit having the fight with my fiance we need to figure out a solution can you help thank you hope to hear from you soon

    • I know this is a really old comment, but I just wanted to weigh in from a peds nurse and mention that Motrin should only be given if your baby is at least 6 months old and weighs over 7kg. Until then, Tylenol every 6 hours is really your only go-to med. =)

    • Please no one on this site recommend Tylenol. It is VERY dangerous and has been linked to autism and other developmental disorders. Use Advil ask your doctor he/she will tell you a dosage by weight and they do have to eat on it. Tylenol is not a joke. Please research it. Do not use it after vaccines either. The makers of Tylenol have been going back and forth about what is a proper dose of the drug because so many people have died from taking it. We are the only country on the planet that uses it like we do. Please stop recommending it.

      • I’m not sure if I’m ready to say that Tylenol is bad for you. The link to autism isn’t for children taking medication, it’s for pregnant women taking a ton of it:

        Also I think there are a lot of questions about causation vs. correlation. I suspect that further analysis will show that there are underlying issues that link why those women were taking so much Tylenol and that the autism link is due to those issues vs. the treatment of them.

        That being said if you choose not to take Tylenol (or any of the many medications that contain paracetamol – the potential source of controversy) while pregnant, feel free to avoid it. And as always talk to your Pediatrician if you have any concerns.

      • Autism happens in utero — we know that much. You are born with or without it. Giving tylenol to an infant absolutely wouldn’t cause autism — you appear to have greatly misread the study you’re talking about.

        • Hi my name is laurs,my son is 8 years old. He will be put under to have some bad teeth removed on October 6th . but until than what can i do for his bad nerve tooth pain? We have tried antibiotics,switching salt water,oregel,warm wash cloth, cold compress, which has caused his ear to hurt.. I have him motrin,but bc his blood pressure went up from him constantly screaming for an hour.I don’t think the Motrin is helping.. I need help

  2. This is also a great idea when babies are unwell. I did a proactive dose last night as my little boy is sick and it really helped. Got to work on my technique though as he woke up when I was giving it to him but as he wasn’t feeling bad yet he was a lot easier to get back to sleep.

    • Yeah I’m a big fan of giving kids a little Tylenol if they seem unhappy and I can’t figure out why. I know some people aren’t big fans of medicating kids but I figure a little Tylenol here and there is probably just fine 🙂

      • I’m a peds nurse, and I would often give my patients a dose of Tylenol if they were abnormally fussy… So often it would help take the edge off of whatever was bothering them and let them get some much needed rest–especially true for sick babies! Not something I’d recommend for daily or nightly use, but as Alexis said, I don’t think a little Tylenol every now and then will hurt and it may certainly help!!

      • Tylenol really shouldn’t be the “go-to” medication for things like teething pain. Relieving the sore gums (like with Orajel) will make it harder in the long run. If they aren’t sore, they won’t want to chew like a normal teething child, in which case it can delay the teeth poking through properly. Bottom line really is, you had a baby, you need to stick it out and soothe as best you can, even if that means staying awake again at night and having baby gnaw on your knuckle. The ONLY reason I would recommend Tylenol during teething is if they are having a reactive fever that is causing an unusual amount of discomfort.

        • Just one more thing… don’t be giving your children medication just because they seem unhappy and you’re unsure as to why they’re unhappy. Making judgements based on ignorance is just absolutely terrible, in my opinion. I don’t mean to be rude, but really?? Prolonged usage of medications with extreme side affects, even in little dosage, can cause the same said side affects as a one time over-dosage. In Tylenol’s case, that’s liver damage….think twice before putting your kids at risk.

          • SOOO….here’s the thing. Screaming tired baby that wont sleep because he/she is in pain, equals tired grumpy parents and tired grumpy parents usually end up getting frustrated and taking it out on each other, which baby catches on to and then gets even more stressed…and grumpy. It’s a never ending cycle that could easily be mended if the babies pain is taken away, or at least made to be less.

        • I had a baby, so the baby should suffer through teething pain? Seems a little sadistic. Gnawing on my knuckles or toys does not always alleviate the pain, and the baby needs to sleep!

        • Hey everybody! Things are getting a bit feisty so let me jump in and say this.

          As with any medical decision it’s entirely up to you. Also some kids pop out teeth with nary a backwards glance while others are miserable for a long stretch of time. This sort of “I’m miserable” behavior can be hard for everybody to just carry on through. It can also lead to a lot of unhelpful night parenting tactics that aren’t good for anybody.

          So, do I think those people should just such it up? Personally no. Is there evidence that an appropriate amount of pain reliever to “rule out” teething pain as an underlying cause of frequent night waking is irresponsible? No. If you give your kid some pain reliever and they’re night behavior remains unchanged you now have good information in terms of figuring out what is going on and what changes would best remedy the situation.

          If however you don’t choose to avail yourself of this option, that’s totally fine too.

          As with all things baby, we are not there with you and your crying child at 2 AM so it’s really up to the parent to figure out which option is best.

        • Your “prescribing” under the notion that all babies are teething at an age where they’ll chew. For early teethers who aren’t chewing yet and can’t have solids yet, Tylenol is about our only bet. Even massaging their gums with fingers only does so much if they hate it — or their mouths are still so small!

        • “Normal teething child” this made me seriously laugh out loud. What a joke. I guess my teething child is not “normal” because she doesn’t want to use my knuckle as a chew toy. Or chew on anything else for that matter. Get off your high horse and hopefully two years later you are over your self ritcheousness. Every child is different. What works for one might not work for another. You don’t want to use Tylenol then don’t. Some of us do. Actually millions and millions do. Which is why it sells. And why doctors recommend it. We give it as a last resort if nothing else is working. On no!! Lol. Unreal that you have the audacity to make a comment about a “normal teething child”. Responsible dosing is not going to cause liver failure.

  3. Alexis! I am in desperate need of your wisdom again…
    You have helped me so much over the last several months and i’m hoping you’ll have some insight on what is going on now…
    Emma is now 8 1/2 months old and has been falling asleep on her own for bedtime and naps since 4 months when we started using your swing technique. At 5 months she transferred to the crib for bedtime and it was pretty painless. A few hiccups here and there but overall she has been falling asleep with no crying and staying asleep for 11 hours straight then a feed then back down for another 1-2 hours…she napped in the swing until 7 months and then we transitioned her to the crib which also went well. She does about 1-1.5 hours in the AM…PM one varies sometimes its 1-1.5 sometimes only 45 and then we end up doing a 3rd nap in the stroller/ problem
    Well, this weekend has left me a bit shell shocked to say the least. I am writing you on only a few hours of sleep so i hope i make sense…Her top front tooth started to come through on saturday..she woke up at 330AM and WOULD NOT go back to sleep…i gave her meds..i even fed her which i havent done in forever..put her in the swing, she screamed…brought her in my bed, she wanted to play..put her back in swing, screamed..laid on the floor on a blanket..wanted to get the 9AM i tried putting her in the crib figuring exhaustion would take over but no…so we ended up driving around in the car for 2 hours so she would nap. OY VEY! The rest of the weekend didnt go much better and we spent alot of time in the car for naps. In addition to the teeth she has also mastered sitting up and has a severe case of separation anxiety…i cant even go to the bathroom without her crying 🙁 So now everytime i put her in the crib for naps/bedtime, she immediately sits up and screams…at bedtime sunday and last night she eventually laid down after 10-15 min of screaming but naps were a different story. The couple that i did try in the crib, she cried for 10 minutes and fell asleep but only slept for 30 min and was clearly still tired when she woke up b/c she was rubbing her eyes etc and when i put her in the car an hour later she passed out for 2 hours.
    Ok so sunday night i tried giving her the motrin in her sleep and it worked and she slept til 530! it was awesome…last night, not so much…i guess i have to work on my technique but she woke up and sat up while i was giving it and cried for a few minutes but went back down but was up at 330. The only thing that calms her down is nursing 🙁 i was able to get her into the swing where she slept the rest of the night until 7am..
    so i guess my question is, what the heck happened? i know the pain from the tooth is probably the main cause but i feel like i did all this work getting her to be able to fall asleep on her own without crying and STTN and taking good naps and its all gone down the drain…do i just press on and keep putting her down and hopefully she’ll get over this separation anxiety and just lay down and sleep? I feel like the sitting up is causing her naps to be shorter since she’s only going through one sleep cycle now…i’m pretty sure the answer is this too shall pass but just curious if you have any insight. I know feeding her at night is bad but i try to just give her the minimum to calm her down…nothing else works to settle her 🙁 Thanks in advance for any input!!

    • ps. the little icon next to my name, is a pretty good represenation of how i feel right now lol

    • I think sometimes people feel robbed because you do ALL the right things (which is HARD) and you feel a certain sense of mastery and then…


      You’re back to ground zero. It’s really frustrating and feels unfair and unjustified. But there you are.

      I think you’re instincts are right. Teething + separation anxiety = bad sleep. And yes, this too shall pass. BUT….

      I would do what you can to help it pass as quickly as possible. This may or may not help…

      1) Give her TONS of floor time so she can practice sitting up and getting back down. Some babies get “stuck” sitting up, or are so focused on practicing an exciting new skill that they wake themselves up when they need to sleep. So you want to give her all the practice time you can while she’s awake to get over this “new skill” hump.

      2) Get her used to the separation. Practice during the day so she knows that you WILL leave sometimes and will ALWAYS come back. Use your words to tell her that mommy is going to the bathroom, mommy loves her and will be back in 2 minutes. Sing while you’re in the bathroom so she can hear you. Do this often – leave the room, come back. When you come back make a big deal, “Mommy came back little baby! Kisses for baby!”

      3) Medication is your friend. I know you know that. But it really is.

      4) Try not to get into too many bad habits like night nursing if you can avoid it. But I’m supportive of the occasional “car nap of desperation” if it’s what you need to get through a rough patch. That’s why God invented drive through coffee.

      5) Listen to your gut to figure out if she’s REALLY suffering (teething, hungry, etc.) or just wants your attention. Because you don’t want to ignore suffering obviously. But if she’s really into Mommy time, your attending to her needs also rewards the behavior. This can be a really hard one to suss out.

      Also if she’s totally into MOMMY right now, make your partner handle as much as possible as that will be less rewarding. And plus you get to sleep – BONUS!

      ANyway I’m sorry I have no magic fairy dust to fix things. But hopefully this IS a rough patch and in a week or two things are tons better…

  4. Hi,
    My 6.5 month old falls asleep on her own at night between 6:30 and 7. She generally wakes once about 9:30 or 10 and needs us to go in and put her paci back in. Then, she will sleep until 6 the following morning. Lately, however, she has been awakening every 1-2 hours. Sometimes, she will take her paci and go back to sleep, sometimes she will need to be held and rocked. Any ideas on what is going on?


  5. This is our second child, and our first was fussy with reflux/ear infections/tubes for 10 months and we got no sleep. We sleep trained him at 11 months and he has been sleeping well ever since.

    This baby has been easier except he needed swaddled to sleep his whole life. He’s 6 months old and a swaddle is dangerous for a baby this age because he could end up on his face without the ability to turn himself back over. So we decided to take a deep breath and give up the swaddle 2.5 weeks ago. It’s been a nightmare ever since (well, no nightmares…no sleep). He has had 2 teeth come in and 3 different colds (most likely more teeth are coming in). We had all the sleep tricks down before 2.5 weeks ago. We’d put him to bed drowsy, with white noise, walk out, and help him a few times a night with a pacifier and walk out. He would be fine to go back to sleep. Now, he wakes up screaming in pain every 10 minutes. We had him checked by the pediatrician a week ago for other health issues and his ears are not infected. So, the doctor prescribed reflux medicine and it’s having no noticeable effect. (He does have reflux but nothing like his older brother). We swore to never bring him in our bed, but for the past 4 nights, he has only slept when in our bed with us. We have tried everything! Adding sleep sacks to his pajamas to make sure he’s warm enough, trying the car-seat because it’s more upright, dosing Tylenol, Baby Vicks so he can breathe out of his nose. (Tomorrow he has his 6 month well check, so they’ll check his ears again.)

    My question is this: after all the hard work getting him sleep trained, we are now just back to square one with a terrible sleeper and out of desperation have brought him into our beds, so that we could get a few minutes/hours of sleep a night. Will we ever get him to sleep? Will he ever sleep on his own? How do we do it? We are desperate. Our older son is also desperate. He hears crying all night and is overtired too.

    Thank you.

    • Hey Danielle,
      I think I’m a little confused about what is going on with your baby. IS he flipping over onto his tummy while swaddled? I hear your concern – it is not safe to sleep on your tummy while swaddled. But if the swaddle is a powerful soothing tool for your baby and you don’t see him flipping in it, then I’m not sure I would advocate for preemptively removing the swaddle. If he IS flipping, then of course, you have to bite the bullet. But if not, I would stick with it until you MUST remove it.

      Also you say he’s been super sick and has multiple teeth coming in. But then you’re treating him for reflux. Do you think he HAS reflux or is this one of those, “He’s just so miserable and nothing is working so maybe it’s reflux?” things.

      Because here’s the deal – if REALLY there is a reflux problem then you need to get serious about parenting a refluxing baby (you know this as you’ve lived it already). As you know, getting the right dose is a huge challenge. And depending on the level of irritation in his esophagus it could take weeks for you to see a difference, and that’s AFTER you get the right drug/dose right. And even then you’ll need to manage with lifestyle stuff.

      So if your gut says, “His tummy hurts and that’s why he’s so miserable.” then I would advise you to do this:

      I would suggest a swing over the car seat (car seats can be squishy putting extra pressure on sensitive tummies). In the swing, strapped in, he CAN’T flip over so you could safely go back to the swaddle. Swaddle, swing, white noise. That also gives you your best bet to get him quickly back to falling asleep on his own and vastly reduce the night crying so your whole family can sleep.

    • My daughter’s 6.5 months old and we’ve also been dealing with reflux since she was 1 week old and dealt with the swaddling issue. For the reflux, my daughter’s on a low dose of ranitidine for her weight, but we found that using a wedge in her crib is very helpful in reducing discomfort at night as it raises her slightly. And as she has been exclusively breastfed, I eliminated all citrus foods and fruit juices from my diet and it made a drastic difference (orange juice was the biggest culprit for me).

      As for the swaddling issue, we started weaning her from it by not swaddling her so securely. We would swaddle her starting below her shoulders (as opposed to from the neck down) so that she could free her arms if she needed/wanted to. That way she still felt snug around the body. She did indeed start pulling her arms out, which was when we started swaddling just her body, leaving her arms out, but still maintaining that snug feeling around the body. As she started moving around more at night, her swaddle would become almost all undone, which was when we eliminated the swaddling altogether without an issue.

      Hope this helps!

  6. My lo is 5 months old, she’s bottle fed an slept through from 7 1/2 weeks, around 14 weeks she began to wake up in the night, she was hungry. She was always a good eater but began leaving bottles in the day but gulping them during the night, I researched this an came up with teething?? She still hasn’t cut a tooth an is nearly 20weeks however she has got more symptoms lots of saliva hand constantly in her mouth, rosy cheeks, nappy rash an runny stools three times a day!!
    At first I was feeding her once in the night age would eat an go straight back off, it would be at all different times she would wake anything from 11pm until 5am! Now sges going to bed at 730pm waking at 11pm 2am an 5am! It’s now 6am she woke up at 5am after having a bottle at 2am 7oz! So she isn’t hungry I have given her calpol an then water an put hey back in her cot! Sge gets herself off to sleep during the day no problem but just during the night she cries an cries! I’m exhausted please help!

    • Hi Sarah, this is exactly the same as my 17 week old and we have narrowed it down to teething or his silent reflux! would love to hear what happened with your lo in the end xx

  7. LO been great slepping 8-9pm – 6 am with dreamfeed 11pm. Wonderful my life was perfect. Its all gone pear shaped the last 2 weeks and Im not sure the reason why.
    He is teething but not as badly as some Ive seen. He is 4 months today. Im not sure if the problem is actually that the pacifier is falling out. Im treating the teething with Tylenol, gum gel for bed time. The thing is im not sure its the teething that is waking him. Once I get up and put the paci back in he is straight back to sleep, no fuss. Or maybe its the teeth thats waking him but that he cant put himself back without the paci? Or I thought it may be a sleep regression. Or combination.
    I have been putting him down awake (until the recent relapse where at times I have had to rock/pat him to sleep). Any thoughts to help? Should I ditch the paci already? I was keeping it until transition to crib.
    As you can see Thanks

  8. thank you for sharing this post. Very informative and well written.

  9. Hi, Alexis!

    We have a very active 7 month old boy; he is all boy alllll day long. 🙂 We did some sleep training, including a painful 2 days of CIO and now he falls asleep on his own at night and I still give him a bottle a naptime; but naps went from 30 minutes to 1.5-2 hours! WOO HOO! LIFE WAS GOOD….until this second round of teeth. During his bottom fronts he started to wake around 1 am again. Normally, I could shush and pat his tush and he would sleep until his 5am feeding (7pm-5am was his regular sleep schedule). But now he is cutting FOUR teeth up top: Top fronts and eye teeth (I can see those, they are almost through). The past three nights have been awful. He woke pretty much every three hours. When he woke at 10:45pm, I let him cry for 12 minutes and he was not calming down so I picked him up and rocked him for about 3 minutes and he passed out. Then he woke again at 1:30ish and screamed and screamed…we finally fed him. then he woke at around 5:30, which is normal for him. Normally he doesnt fall asleep after the 5am bottle; but will talk himself to sleep in the crib and wake around 7. Last night he screamed in the crib. I gave him more Tylenol cuddled him and he finally slept. All that to say/ask this: We worked SO hard to sleep train him. so hard! and now I feel like it will have to be done all over again. My ped said to let him CIO when he wakes; but this kid will cry forever… and that’s a fact. PLUS, my husband and I are currently in a 1 BR apartment (Moving to a house in June!!!) and he wakes up at 5 to go to work so we really cannot spend half the night letting E CIO. Please advise. thank you!!!

  10. Alexis!
    I absolutely love your blog (and your name) and want to thank you for your Yoda-like wisdom. My baby is almost 14 weeks old and I couldn’t be more confused: hoping you could help with all the downtime you have (you’re probably getting another degree right now)…

    Here’s the deal: I have an oversupply issue and it took quite a long time to figure that out (it’s my first baby, I didn’t know it wasn’t normal to pump 5 oz in 5 mins). We finally got that under control by around week 7, and he was sleeping pretty well (at least 5-6 hours straight). Then he got this shots and it seemed to have gone downhill from there. I’ve been on elimination diets and I can’t really pinpoint any particular food that’s creating issues (I thought it was dairy, then gave up and ate a giant burrito full of cheese and he slept the longest stretch that night to date). Now, I’m starting to think it’s teething because his nighttime (and sometimes daytime) sleep is so erratic. He’s usually a joy to be around during the day, but nights are seriously wearing on me. I should mention that he’s had some mucous-y poops lately, but maybe that’s because he’s drooling like my dog before supper.

    So here’s my question: if I give him Tylenol before bed and he sleeps well, can I assume that it’s not a food issue but possibly a teething thing? Or is my logic ridiculous because of my now zombie-mush brain?

    These words don’t do it justice, but THANK YOU for your guidance.

  11. Hey Alexis,

    I read your site religiously and I’m so happy for all your guidance. I think I have an early teether on my hands (perhaps some genetic component as his grandpa was born with teeth, which is scary), which is leaving me with some questions on how to progress. He’s three months and 2 weeks. Ever since he hit the three month mark I, being a good and obedient disciple of yours, began heeding your advice to get him to start falling asleep on his own. He would occasionally do this at 2 months, so I thought NO PROB!

    WRONG. The minute he turned 3 months old he has been a crankmonster. It’s nearly impossible to get him to fall asleep without a boob in his mouth or rocking him to sleep. I’ve, of course, kept white noise, swaddle, dark room and have been using varsity swing techniques. 90% of the time it’s not working. Meanwhile, I’m noticing him chomping on his paci and calming when I rub his gums. He does seem to respond to tylenol when we’re desperate and once he is asleep, he tends to sleep pretty well. But I’m really worried that he’s never, despite our efforts, falling asleep on his own and I believe you when you say we’ll never fall asleep without this skill.

    I’ve also read up on your sleep regressions post and I’m certain we may have had one of those in the mix as well, but since he’s currently sleeping in longer chunks, I think we’re over the worst of that. My main concern is putting him down awake.

    My question for you and for the other parents is whether I should temporarily forego trying to put him down awake, or whether this will lead to major trouble down the road. Does anyone have any tips?

  12. So my 11 month old is a terrible teether. I give him ibuprofen right before bed. I would do a booster dose but he’s waking up right before its time for more meds. Then I spend 30 min rocking his butt back to sleep!! Any advice there

  13. Alexis,

    I stumbled upon your website and I think it’s great! My almost 7 month old son had always been a great sleeper, very self soothing. The past couple weeks, he has been waking up screaming and crying and will not go back to sleep. He is inconsolable. He will fall asleep in our arms and once we put him back in his crib, he wakes up screaming and crying again. Or he will wake up in the middle of the night and be wide awake, he will be up for hours and just want to play. My husband and I have gotten no sleep for the past two weeks. The past two nights, we have given him tylenol before bed (around 9) and he has slept until 2 or 3 (I feed him) and he goes back to sleep around 6 in the morning.

    He is also sleeping all throughout the day. He falls asleep in the bouncer, in his swing, everywhere! It’s really unlike him.

    I’m convinced he is teething but we aren’t seeing any teeth! Is this consistent behavior with teething? What would you recommend to help him sleep through the night? The tylenol did seem to work.

  14. Hello,
    My son is going to be eight months old in two weeks. This is my first child and I have been rocking him to sleep every night. This was never a problem, and hes a great sleeper he has been sleeping through the night since around four months. Recently he has been really fussy, he has 4 teeth, two bottom front, and both upper canines. His front teeth are coming in so I`m sure this is causing him to be irritable. I`m concerned that rocking him to sleep is going to cause me alot of grief in the future by him not being able to fall asleep on his own. I tried letting him cry it out but it seriously breaks my heart and also he will continue to cry until he is hysterical. I dont know what to do.

    • I did the same thing with my son as far as rocking to sleep, and I wonder if that’s why I’m dealing with it after bedtime now. I’m debating calling our pediatrician to see if there’s anything that can be done (do they have anything stronger that Motrin that’s a safe alternative? Is there a topical ointment like hurricane gel that might work?), so if you find a solution to the waking up wanting Mommy, please share.

      I’m beginning to wonder if teething causes separation anxiety, and if there’s a way to combat it effectively and safely. I’ll keep you posted so I can hopefully save YOU some sleepless nights!! Good luck and hang in there!

  15. Alexis – I used all your advice when my daughter was an infant and she learned to sleep beautifully, 11 to 12 hours a night. She goes to sleep great – fully awake, reaching for her crib and singing herself to sleep.

    Until recently. She’s now 20-months-old and she still goes down to sleep very well at 7:30 p.m. but she wakes up randomly yelling for Momma or Dada every few hours. Not at the same time every night, but pretty much anywhere from 2 – 4 times a night. When my husband or I go into her room, we basically tell her that it’s nighttime and to go back to sleep and she lays down without a peep and goes back to sleep. What the heck is going on???

    This started about three weeks ago and has happened every single night since. The only thing I can think of is teething. From everything I’ve read, the teething pain is really only supposed to be bad for maybe a few days, not three weeks. Does that sound right? I’ve tried giving her motrin before she goes to bed and she still wakes up. Normally when she has teething pain, the motrin does the trick.

    She doesn’t really seem scared but could it be nightmares or night terrors? Nothing has changed in her schedule, routine, or environment. I will also add that she takes a nap in the afternoon for about 1.5 – 2 hours and doesn’t wake up during that time. I don’t know how to make the waking up stop! Do I have to do CIO AGAIN at 20 months?? Please help!

  16. Hi, my 8 month old girlie is teething. Her first tooth wasn’t so bad, but this one seems to be annoying her a little more. I give her Motrin at night, all good there, and then a shorter lasting pain reliever during the day. SHE WILL NOT NAP. I put her down for naps the same way I do for nights; awake. She’s just…not doing it.

    MY QUESTION: Should I get to sleep by any means necessary during teething or hold firm with my training?

    Poor bug. By 5pm she looks like a dead tired fry cook at a 24 hour diner. Not good. She also, triumphantly, vomited for the first time today, from the crying in her crib. I feel…like a monster.

  17. Hi Alexis

    I have been frequenting your site for several months now – ever since the 4 month regression (WOW that was miserable). My daughter is now 11 months (will be one on April 23rd). I came back to your site today because we have been up in the night again and nothing but nursing seems to get her back to sleep. We THINK teething, but it has been going on for at least 2 weeks, maybe 3, and it seems like a long time to deal with teething with no results. I hope you can help me decipher my little munchkin as I’m feeling stumped. And frustrated.

    Basically, she has been sttn consistently since about 7 months when we moved her to her own room. Prior to that she had stints of sttn here and there ever since 3 months. Since 7 months there have been a few rough patches (teething, sickness etc) and during those times I have occasionally nursed her at night, put her down awake, and she will go back to sleep. This never lasts more than a few days and then she goes back to sttn. Also, in the past when she’s been healthy but woken (maybe from a nightmare?) I’ve been able to go in, just sooth for a few minutes and she’s back to sleep. Or she’ll put herself back to sleep without any help at all.

    Anyway, for the past few weeks, she is still sttn probably 50% of the time, but the other nights, she wakes up around 1ish. Sometimes she is totally inconsolable except by the breast, and even cries after the first side until I give her the second (but she never really acts like she wants to nurse. I don’t think she’s hungry). Other times she will calm in our arms, we’ll rock her a bit, put her back to bed, she’ll be quiet for 10-20 minutes, and then start crying again and then I resort to nursing her because by the end of it we’ve all been up for an hour. We give her motrin before bed if she’s seemed fussy during the day and will give her another dose when she wakes in the night if it’s been long enough. Does this sound like teething?

    Also, just for context, some nights she is only getting 9-10 hrs of sleep, but is taking excessively long naps to make up for it (totalling 3-4 hours of naps when she used to have 2-2.75).

    Sorry this is so long and I appreciate any thoughts you might have.
    Thank you!

    • Hey Alisa,

      My guts says you have a “too long in bed” problem. For whatever reason sometimes babies have rough nights. It happens!Most babies aren’t quite so good about making up their sleep debt through mega-naps. But I think what is happening is she’s actually napping too much.

      YES THIS CAN HAPPEN. At almost 1 year of age when she sleeps 3-4 hours during the day she’s not accruing enough of a sleep debt to effectively sleep 11+ hours at night which is where you get these long windows of awake and inconsolable at night.

      Try waking her up at the “regular” nap time – whatever was happening when she was napping 2-2.5 hours during the day. Keep bedtime the same. And see if that doesn’t solve the night waking problem.

      Try it for ~5 days and report back to let me know. Cool?

      • Hi again

        I’d like to say a loooong overdue thank you! We started cutting her naps shorter and saw a difference within a few days. Her night waking sorted itself out pretty quickly after that!

        Now, a couple months later, we are transitioning to one nap instead of two and seeing even better sleep! Hallelujah 🙂

        Thanks again!

  18. I’ve posted in various forums about my daughter’s sleep issues but no one so far has been able to help. For the last few months she has been crying in her sleep often as every hour. I part her and sometimes she’ll stop crying, sometimes she gets louder. She seems in pain. Before age had a child and ear infection but that’s all clear. We don’t co sleep but she is in our room. Even when we tried to co sleep for a few hours she cries with eyes closed. The doctor said her teeth look like they are coming soon but this has been going on for months. We are doing hylands teething tablets, natural orajel, teethers in the day, and Tylenol. Dr said do Motrin but even with that, no luck.. Still crying excessively in her sleep. It’s not gas or reflux because she takes zantac and eats a hypoallergenic formula and basic solids. I still think it’s teething but Motrin should’ve helped, right?? Not sure if it’s nightmares because she’s not screaming. This happens all night. She used to sleep decently well. She wakes up fully to eat once. Help please.

    • How is she falling asleep AT bedtime. Does she go down alone or are you cuddling/nursing to sleep? Could this be the issue?

      If it’s NOT a sleep association issue I don’t think it’s teething. Because you’ve medicated the heck out of teething.

      But it does sound like a sleep association issue which would be something that get’s set up AT bedtime. Does that ring a bell?

      • Thanks for your reply. I REALLY appreciate it. We start a nighttime routine around 7ish, then give her a bottle, when she finishes it we put her down.. She’s awake most of the time but sleepy.. Sometimes she’s asleep.. Then she falls asleep on her own. In the middle of the night when she has a bottle, I lay her down fully awake. We give her a pacifier sometimes if she’ll take it. In the day when I put her down for naps, I sometimes rock her a little till she’s almost asleep and then put her down.. I do usually pat her till her eyes are almost closed. Is that a sleep association?

        • Hey Nadia,
          Yes I think it’s highly likely this is a sleep association issue and not a teething/discomfort issue at all. I think she’s got a huge suck/bottle = sleep association which is due to the fact that she eats/sucks NEAR sleep if not TO sleep at bedtime. Also she may not be awake enough when you put her down.

          Because that happens when she falls asleep it’s going to cause her to struggle to fall back to sleep during the night resulting in frequent wakings and crying. Read the link I shared above, separate the bottle and paci from bedtime and ensure she’s fully awake when she goes down and the night waking/crying should resolve pretty quickly.

          Try it out and let me know how it goes!

          • Thank you for your advice. I REALLY Appreciate it! I will try to separate the bottle and pacifier from bedtime. The bottle at bedtime has become part of her routine and helps her relax. But the pacifier we give to her when she starts crying in the middle of the night and to help her fall asleep at naps and bedtime. That may be a huge issue. Maybe I should stop using the pacifier at naps first?
            So we discovered something interesting. I tried putting her in the crib rather than the pack n play and she had the same crying every hr with eyes closed. For the last 3 nights we put her in the rock n play (which she used very early on). She slept well! She struggled a little because she wanted to move around but she didn’t cry, at all! She woke up once to eat which is fine because I haven’t weaned her yet. Either I’m guessing this makes her reflux less painful because it’s inclined or it prevents her from flipping over on to her tummy where she doesn’t want to sleep on for long. I’m not sure. Now I’m torn, do I put her back in the crib or pack n play or do I let her sleep in the rock n play. She hasn’t mastered rolling from tummy to back because she doesn’t understand she needs to move her arm out of the way. Also she’s on zantac for reflux. Hmm. Thanks again!!

            • My son had reflux shortly after he was born, and the nurses in the NICU had him inclined some to alleviate the symptoms. They told me when I FINALLY was able to bring him home that you can put small wedges under the feet of one end of the crib and get something called a “Tucker Sling” so the crib can be elevated but your little one won’t slide to the lower end of the crib. My son had one in his crib in the NICU, and they are simple to use.
              Zack didn’t need this treatment when he came home, but I think if the nurses in the NICU told me to do this, it should work for you as well. Good luck with the reflux!!

  19. I have a first time mom silly question. You mention teething causes issues with sleep. I am confused on how to tell when a child is starting/ending teething. Our daughter is 6 months old and this week we saw the white of her first tooth emerging but it’s not fully out. At what point is the teething considered ‘done’? And if she keeps getting new teeth over the next few months is there ever going to be a point when she’s NOT teething?

    The reason I ask is because we’d like to try sleep training but were hoping to wait until the teething was over. Any input is appreciated!

  20. Hi, Alexis. I read in here about separation anxiety coupled with teething issues. I have a 13 month old boy who was born 3 months premature (just in case this has any bearing on things, so his adjusted age would be 10-11 months of age). He is teething something awful right now (tons of drooling, biting and diaper rash), and despite Motrin at bed time, he wakes up between 11:30 and 1:30 screaming bloody murder. The minute I lay down on the couch with him, he goes RIGHT back to sleep and stays asleep the rest of the night.

    I’ve tried refusing to take him out of his crib after a week of these sleepless nights that have resulted in me getting NO sleep because he tosses, turns, hits and kicks all night, and me being so far beyond exhausted that I can’t think straight, but that resulted in him throwing tantrums in his room until I couldn’t stand listening to it anymore (25 minutes) and I came out on the couch with him again.

    I, too, have to deal with not being “allowed” to leave his sight for any reason without enduring heart-wrenching crying and hysterics.

    Is the separation anxiety a side effect of the teething (I know all kids go thru it but am curious if there’s any correlation), and how do I get him to sleep thru the night again? Is a week of sleepless nights common in teething babies, or should I be calling the pediatrician to discuss possible underlying issues due possibly to his prematurity? Any help whatsoever would be greatly appreciated. I’m completely on my own dealing with this and have no back up to take over and give me a break. I know there’s no magic pill or wand, but there has to be SOME answer and solution!

    • Hi my second just broke his first tooth today he’s 4 months old he won’t lay and breastFeed I put baby orajel natural on his gums he calmed down for a bit but I heard it hurts thier teeth laying down their backs so would letting him sleep in a carseat propped up be better? I just found your blog it seems pretty helpful for the other lady’s so I figure I would ask thanks

    • MDid you ever get the answer to this as my little one is doing the same?

  21. Hello, I stared the CIO method with my 8 month old on Thursday and up until Wednesday night things have been going good.. Naps were better, sleep at night was better.. But on Wednesday night he didn’t sleep well at all.. We checked him but didn’t pick him up unless to feed him.. It seems really bizarre because the previous nights he slept really good, but wed night he would sleep then he kept waking like every 30 min or 10 mins or 20 mins.. It was random.
    Could this be extinction burst? Or a sleep regression?
    Please help!
    Thank you

  22. I have a 5 mo. old baby boy going trough his fair share of teething issues as we speak. I’ve found some useful information in this forum and it has helped our situation tremendously. We have chosen not to vaccinate but I have no problem with a little tylenol here and there. Our pediatrician is very open too our choices and still ok’d the use of pain killers in moderation. I would like to say one thing, every doctor is going to have an opinion, and I’m sure in their personal experience they have no reason to disapprove the use of such pharmaceuticals. Please don’t make a decision based on the writings and opinions of someone on this forum. Follow a professional’s advice. PS anyone notice the correlation in the negative posts and grammatical errors?

    Side note: I wouldn’t advise taking the advice of someone who cannot even spell correctly.

    • David,

      I can tell you disagree, I just can’t tell what you disagree with. Me? Somebody who has posted a comment here? It’s not clear to me why you would look for information/ideas online if your position is to only make decisions based on what your pediatrician has to say?

      Also I generally try not to poke at people for spelling correctly. We all make spelling errors (or do things like misuse “to” and “too”) especially as we’re all squeezing in research while caring for children.

  23. Hi!
    I’m really interested in teething. My first “teethed” for a long time Althoigh looking back I’m not so sure. I’m genuinely curious about a few things given a bit of reading/digging and wondered what you thought-
    – lots of specialists are now saying teething is a bit of a myth. It used to even be the number 1 cause of infant death (they were wrong obviously!) but it’s something that permeates society with no evidence of actual pain
    – if there’s any pain involved (there’s none when adult teeth come in, wisdoms are a different process) it’s oat likely to be 1-3 days as the gums rearranges itself around the tooth (they don’t “cut” even if there’s blood there that’s not the physical process)
    – there are a million reasons babies are waking (you know them all!) and teeth are the classic go-to
    – (this one really got me thinking) maternity nurses report that babies who have been on pretty “correct” schedules or whatever you call them and have self settling abilities and no sleep crux’s from birth rarely “teethe” and if they do it is a night or two tops
    – studies have been done showing no correlation to teething symptoms and rupture of teeth
    I’m just reporting what I read by the way!!! I have no idea myself but I do wonder about it all and have spoken to a few people about it including my dentist and pediatrician who both said “yep, it’s a myth” argh. What to do.

    The studies and blogs about it are all online 🙂

  24. Hi Alexis,

    Fantastic site! Based on your experiences, would you say a temporary night feeding (bottle) due to severe teething is likely to bring back a night feeding habit? Our 7.5month old daughter has been sleeping through the night for sometime and dropped the “dreamfeed” some time ago. However, she hasn’t been eating/drinking much during the day due to discomforts that teething brings so we’ve been giving her a bottle at 11pm when she wakes up. My concern is that it is also the same time her past dream feeds used to be. And it also coincides with about the time her tylenol wears off. We give her a dose at 7pm.

    I’m not a huge fan of medicating unnecessarily but think pain management and comfort is important in the health of your child and the mother! And my response to the post citing that teething is a myth…well, that is about the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard. When an infant has swollen, blistery, achy gums and is doing best to smash toys repeatedly against his/her mouth until relief is brought on by numbing the pain with frozen washcloth, teething toys, and pain medication…what part of this is a “myth?”

  25. hi alexis,
    omg i am living a nightmare!! my cute little baby is a demon!! I’m not sure why i deserve this baby after having a colic first, but i mustve really done something kharmically terrible!!! i have a stubborn grumpy 8 month old with what doctors call “tough temperament” on top of colic, reflux and teething… needless to say i am exhausted! i have no help with her from family, or even my husband, so add in some separation anxiety and she’s completely unsocialized. i can’t even bring her to the gym for an hour class because the sitters come get me after the 15minute crying limit!! CIO is not working with this one, she is relentless and a vomit queen- it worked like a heaven-sent charm for my son. last night she screamed from 11-120am… i had to change her pajamas & bedding twice. I’ve been working on removing her sleep crutch of the boob, and she’s done relatively well, it just sends her from sleepy to pissed off when i don’t give in- her scream is ear drum shattering. i am down to only offering the boob once at night between the hours of 12-2 since she goes down around 7-8, the other times she wakes, i either let her cry herself to sleep or i go in and hold her, she gets angry and i put her back to bed. I’ve been giving her tylenol and/or motrin for so long now and it is not helping.. she has two teeth and 4 more about to break through. I brought her to the doctor last week because she was waking 10+ times a night and she is so difficult to make happy during the day, i figured i should have them check her ears etc. they basically said “I’m sorry, and you need a break”. all day its a challenge to make her happy. i have to stand on my head and breast feed while juggling and playing the drums and bouncing and playing patty cake.. this has been going on since 5 months… what gives?!?!? I’m ready to run away!! help!

  26. Hello Alexis,

    we started sleep training (CIO) about 2 weeks ago with our 10 months old, and it’s finally working. He still cries when we put him in his crib, but after crying/whining for 10 minutes or so, he would fall asleep and sleep for 11 hours. However, for the past 2 nights, he would wake up in the middle of night crying/screaming, we think it’s because he’s teething. should we attend and hold him when he cries now? will it ruin the sleep training we started 2 weeks ago?


  27. Don’t know why parents will drug their infant babies for teething issues. Every drug has side effect, it should be used as last resort, not go-to solution.

    • Well that is your personal choice and how you handle your infant’s pain is definitely a decision to be made by the individual parent. But many people find that the pain associated with teething is significant and that medication offers significant benefit to their child. And truthfully there is no other solution to pain management that works while your child is sleeping all the other avenues – frozen wash cloths, etc, – require the child to be awake and active. So it’s entirely understandable that when faced with the options of “do nothing” or “use medication within reasonable parameters” people often choose the latter.

  28. How long does it take for canines to come through if you can see the white of the teeth in the gum line? My 1.5 year has been miserable for about two weeks straight with wet, runny poops.

  29. So my 15mo has been cutting her molars for about 4 weeks now and we only have 2 out. Needless to say its completely derailed her amazing sleep (10-12hrs per night) that took a few horrible nights of CIO to get to. Also we were traveling a few weeks in there and instead of waking our hosts just brought her to our bed. So now we are doing that at home. At this point I would be fine with it but she is a very restless sleeper which means I don’t get a ton of sleep. Any recommendations (we do motrin and hyland tabs and frozen everything) that I’m missing or should we go for CIO again? Its just so much harder now that she’s older but I have a feeling thats our only option. Help!

  30. My nearly 17 mo breastfed daughter self-weaned from night feeds and began sleeping 10.5-11.5 hours on her crib at 9 months, with an occasional waking when sick or teething. Ten days ago she had a fever and still has a runny nose/slight cough. Plus she has her last set of molars coming in (early tether). She hasn’t slept normally since, and after many nights of 2-3 hour wakings we brought her into our bed so we cold get some sleep. We don’t believe in full on cry it out “training” but we will let her work it out for less than 10 minutes if she is whining whole laying down. That said ever since this cycle began she jumps up to stand and just cries unless we go to her. Her third to last molar is 90 cut ( a little fun remains over one corner). Have we screwed up by letting her in our bed? When can we try to get her to sleep in crib again? Dad has been on the couch for a week and we r all exhausted. Please help!

  31. I could desperately use your advice. My LO slept through the night at 12 weeks. She’s had occasional disturbances when sick or teething but has gone back to sleeping thought he night. then we hit month nine and things have gone crazy. She started teething, fussiness and drooling is our sign, and sure enough over 2-3 wks 3 teeth came in. this entire time she as up once a night due to pain. we were always able to sooth her and put her back down thankfully with a feeding. I knew we would have to have to break her of this habit and was a little concerned but then I saw 2 molars and an incisor starting to come in. Now we’ve gone from 1 nightly waking to 3. It’s so bad. She wakes up in awful pain and Motrin and tylenol do nothing. the molars aren’t coming through all the way either; it’s weeks of them swollen and looking like they could come through. I even took her to the doctor to make sure I was right. If we wait until all molars come in, then I’m not sure when we will ever sleep again. Should I continue to get her every time she wakes up, feed her and put her down again? I feel awful to let her COI if she’s in pain. How long could this last? I feel like I’ve created such horrible sleeping habits.

  32. Hello. My 5 and half months old has started to sleep during the day and taking nap during the night. I am struggling to get her sleeping patterns back to normal. Is it advisable to wake her up from her day time sleep so that she can sleep at night. Please help me

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