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Do babies sleep more when teething?

By Cradlewise Staff

As a parent, you eagerly anticipate every little milestone in your baby’s development. During your baby’s first year, one of the more significant milestones to look forward to is seeing a little tooth poking out of their gums, kicking off the process of teething.

As adorable as your baby looks with those first tiny chompers, teething is often a challenging time for babies and their caregivers. Teething comes with its share of discomfort, irritability, pain, and drool. Lots of drool. And just like many other baby milestones, teething can impact sleep. 

Do babies sleep more when teething, or less? Here’s our expert-backed guide to teething in babies.

When do babies start teething?

Most babies start teething around six months, but it can vary significantly from child to child. While for some babies, that first tooth might pop up as early as three months, other babies might have to wait a little longer for their first teeth—and in some babies, teething may not begin until they are a year old.

So if you’re wondering how early babies can start teething, rest assured it’s perfectly normal for teething to start at different times for different babies. On average, you can expect your baby’s first teeth to show up at around 6 months.

Did you know?
When babies are born, they already have around 20 teeth under their gums, known as primary teeth or baby teeth. 

Did you know?

When babies are born, they already have around 20 teeth under their gums, known as primary teeth or baby teeth. 

Baby teeth schedule: A timeline

The timeline for when babies get their teeth can vary greatly. Some babies may have all 20 primary teeth by the time they are a toddler at two years old, while others may not have all of their baby teeth until they are three or even four years old.

The first teeth to make their debut are usually the lower central incisors (bottom front teeth), followed by the upper central incisors (top front teeth). The teething process usually starts around six months and can continue until your child is about three years old.

The Journal of the American Dental Association shares this general timeline of when you can expect your child’s teeth to come in:

Wondering when to start brushing baby’s teeth?

Your pediatrician will have specific guidance, but in general, it’s recommended to start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as they appear, using a soft-bristled toothbrush (we’re partial to this cute banana option, which is a classic) and a small amount (a smear the size of a rice grain) of non-fluoride toothpaste.

Teething and sleep

It’s easy to imagine your baby’s discomfort, with hard teeth pushing through their soft gums. Teething also stimulates saliva to soothe the gums, which causes drooling. And drooling can lead to a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, as well as chapped, irritated skin on your baby’s chin and neck.

With all this pain and discomfort, it’s understandable that teething disrupts your baby’s sleep cycle, making it more difficult for your little one to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Dr. Kristie Lake Harriman, D.M.D. and a general dentist practicing at Drews’ Dental Services, confirms, “As both a practitioner and a mother, my experience has been that teething can and does disrupt sleep patterns, because babies tend to be more fussy when they are in pain, and sleep can be interrupted due to pain from the eruption of their teeth.”

Other symptoms that your baby might be teething are swollen gums, irritability, loss of appetite, and biting or gnawing on objects.

While teething can cause discomfort and even a slight increase in your baby’s temperature, it shouldn’t cause a high fever. If your teething baby is running a high temperature, reach out to your pediatrician.

Does teething make babies sleep more?

This is a common question among parents. Because of the pain and discomfort that teething causes, it’s more likely that teething will cause sleep disruption, and less likely that your baby will sleep more just because they’re teething (sorry!).

That said, if your baby happens to be sick while they’re also experiencing teething, you could see your baby sleeping more while their body fights off the illness. According to Dr. Harriman, teething babies might sometimes seem to sleep more if they concurrently have an illness: 

While teething doesn’t cause symptoms like fever, runny nose, diarrhea, etc., a baby can be more likely to experience these symptoms while teething, as the eruption process breaks the skin, allowing bacteria and viruses more access. Babies are also losing their antibodies from their mothers at around six months as well.
– Dr. Harriman

While teething doesn’t cause symptoms like fever, runny nose, diarrhea, etc., a baby can be more likely to experience these symptoms while teething, as the eruption process breaks the skin, allowing bacteria and viruses more access. Babies are also losing their antibodies from their mothers at around six months as well.”

Dr. Harriman

She adds that passive immunity, the antibodies that babies have from their mother’s immune system, typically lasts until about 6 months of age, which is the average age when teeth first start erupting.

Along with teething, your little one will be going through other growth processes, including a growth spurt that often occurs around six months of age, around the same time many babies begin teething. Growth spurts can cause an increase in appetite and a need for more sleep.

All this growth and development takes up a lot of your baby’s energy! So sleeping more might signify that their body needs rest to make up for all the work it’s doing.

It’s also possible that by the time your baby starts teething, their sleep schedule has just naturally evolved, and they are sleeping for longer stretches.

How to soothe a teething baby who can’t sleep

If your kiddo is having trouble sleeping due to teething, there are a few things you can try to help them get some rest:

  • Offer a cold teething ring or washcloth to chew on. The cold can help numb the gums and provide some relief.
  • Massage your baby’s gums with your finger, applying slight pressure.
  • Give them a cold cucumber or carrot to gnaw on. You can supervise them while they dig their gums into the vegetables or use a mesh bag made for this activity.
  • Keep wiping the drool off their face, as it can sometimes lead to rashes. Baby bandana bibs can help during this time.
  • If they are really uncomfortable and in pain, you can give them pain medicine as directed by their pediatrician.

“Silicone teethers with varying textures, when chilled in the refrigerator, are also helpful,” Dr. Harriman suggests.

My own children have responded well to rotating out a chilled pacifier in the freezer. Tylenol can be safely administered at appropriate dosages for severe cases. And, of course, my favorite remedy, extra TLC from Mom and Dad!
– Dr. Harriman

My own children have responded well to rotating out a chilled pacifier in the freezer. Tylenol can be safely administered at appropriate dosages for severe cases. And, of course, my favorite remedy, extra TLC from Mom and Dad!”

Dr. Harriman

While knowing what to give your baby to soothe their pain might be helpful, parents should also know what NOT to give to their baby when they are teething.

“More recently, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommended against administering topical pain relievers like Orajel because the risk of methemoglobinemia (a blood disorder in which an abnormal amount of methemoglobin is produced) was greater than the relief given to children. Also not recommended is teething biscuits or cookies containing sugar (which increases the risk of tooth decay) or putting baby to bed with a bottle,” Dr. Harriman says.

Crib Notes

Your baby is likely to go through many changes in their sleep schedule while teething—but  you’ve got the ultimate sleep tool. Customize your Cradlewise Smart Crib to your teething baby’s sleep needs by bumping up the sensitivity of the crib. A little bit of extra TLC during this phase will save you and your kiddo hours of sleeplessness.

Crib Notes

Your body needs rest after delivery! Easily control the motion and sound settings on your Cradlewise crib from bed while you’re recovering from birth — so you can take care of yourself and your baby at the same time.

When to call the pediatrician

While teething is a normal and healthy process, it’s important to watch for signs of severe distress or discomfort in your baby.

If your baby is experiencing a high fever (100.4°F or above), difficulty eating or drinking, or severe diaper rash, it’s time to contact your pediatrician. Your doctor will be able to assess your baby’s symptoms and determine the best course of action.

FAQs

Q: Can babies have teeth at 2 months?

A: While it’s not uncommon for babies to start teething as early as three months, it’s highly unlikely for them to start teething at two months.

Q: When do baby teeth fall out?

A: Baby teeth typically start falling out around the age of six, with the first ones to go being the front teeth. The rest of the baby teeth will fall out over the next few years, with the last ones usually falling out around 12.

Q: Can a baby get a 103 fever from teething?

A: It’s not uncommon for babies to experience a slight fever when teething, but a fever of 103 is considered high and may indicate another issue. It’s essential to speak with a healthcare provider if your baby is experiencing a fever this high.

Q: Can babies be born with teeth?

A: Yes, it’s not uncommon for babies to be born with teeth, although it’s rare. If a baby is born with teeth, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider for guidance on how to care for the teeth.

FAQs

Q: Can babies have teeth at 2 months?

A: While it’s not uncommon for babies to start teething as early as three months, it’s highly unlikely for them to start teething at two months.

Q: When do baby teeth fall out?

A: Baby teeth typically start falling out around the age of six, with the first ones to go being the front teeth. The rest of the baby teeth will fall out over the next few years, with the last ones usually falling out around 12.

Q: Can a baby get a 103 fever from teething?

A: It’s not uncommon for babies to experience a slight fever when teething, but a fever of 103 is considered high and may indicate another issue. It’s essential to speak with a healthcare provider if your baby is experiencing a fever this high.

Q: Can babies be born with teeth?

A: Yes, it’s not uncommon for babies to be born with teeth, although it’s rare. If a baby is born with teeth, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider for guidance on how to care for the teeth.

Sources:

  1. Tooth eruption in babies. 2005. The Journal of the American Dental Association. “The primary teeth.
  2. Use of toothpaste for babies. 2019. CDC. “Use of Toothpaste and Toothbrushing Patterns Among Children and Adolescents.
  3. Babies’ growth and sleep. 2011. NIH. “Infant Growth in Length Follows Prolonged Sleep and Increased Naps.
  4. Methemoglobinemia. National Library of Medicine. “Methemoglobinemia.
  5. Baby Teething Pain. American Academy of Pediatrics. “Baby Teething Pain.
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