Trying to soothe a teething baby can feel hard enough during the day.
But at night, when you’re cranky, exhausted, and you don’t have playtime as a distraction, trying to soothe your little peanut can be really tough.
But don’t worry. If you’re looking for ways to get through teething, we have some helpful tips on how to soothe a teething baby at night (and hopefully get you both some shuteye).
Does teething hurt more at night?
Most babies start teething between four and seven months, although it can start later (and sometimes even earlier).
Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier, but sleep disturbance is a very common part of teething.
While there’s nothing different going on at night compared to during the day, babies are often more sensitive to the pain during the early hours.
They don’t have anything to distract them, and so everything feels more intense and harder to cope with. We’re sure you can relate.
The second problem: you’re also exhausted when you’re up in the night.
Every mama has moments when it feels like the sun is never going to come up. If that’s you, here are a few tips from pediatricians to help soothe a teething baby at night.
What helps a teething baby sleep?
Knowing how to help your teething baby sleep can make all the difference when you’re navigating this phase. Here are our top recommendations:
Dentists advise choosing a teething ring that’s made of rubber or silicone rather than one filled with gel or liquid, and to avoid any that contain any chemicals or small decorations like beads.
There’s a chance that these could become a choking hazard.
For the same reason, it’s also best to steer clear of teething necklaces.
The advice doing the rounds is to keep your baby’s teethers cold, as the lower temperature can be soothing.
But it’s often best for your little one’s sensitive skin to stick to the fridge, rather than the freezer, when you’re storing their teethers for later.
Pressure on the gums
Letting your baby chew and suck on your fingers is a classic go-to for soothing a teething baby —this takes this one step further.
Applying soft pressure with your (clean) fingers to the sore spots can be a soothing addition to your baby’s bedtime routine.
Something cold (and safe) to chew on
A great choice is a soft cloth they can easily hold and put in their mouth.
If you suspect your little one is waking up regularly because of their teething pain, keep a few clean washcloths in the freezer. (Unlike a teething ring, these are OK in the freezer rather than the fridge because they don’t go rock-hard.)
That way, you can stumble to the kitchen and grab a fresh one when they start to cry.
Make sure that excess drool is wiped clean
We know that excess drool is one of the main symptoms of teething.
It’s not an issue in and of itself, but it can add to their pain (and yours) if it sticks around on their skin for too long.
If the skin (especially on their chin and neck) is always moist, it can break out in a rash.
Make sure that you’re only having to fight the pain in their gums by wiping away the excess drool. At least then you won’t be battling on two fronts!
Babies can take small doses of ibuprofen or acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol), but it’s important to get this properly prescribed by your doctor because the dosage is age-specific and different brands have different strengths.
Aspirin is not recommended for young children, and neither are topical numbing creams that contain benzocaine.
Although it’s only present in small concentrations, it has been linked to some side effects in babies.
Most doctors would also advise staying away from herbal teething gels because these aren’t regulated in the same way as medicines and it’s difficult to know how strong they are.
What to do when your teething baby won’t sleep
If you’ve brought out all of the big guns and your teething baby still just won’t sleep, there are a few extra ideas that doctors and other mamas-to-be have tried and found to help soothe teething pains at night.
These focus more on the sleep aspect rather than simply soothing the teething pain.
White noise machines have been shown to help smaller babies fall asleep faster.
So if your teething little one can’t stop crying, this might help to calm them down long enough for them to drift back to sleep.
These machines often work best at a low volume and over two meters from the crib.
Sometimes, love is the only drug.
Starting a whole new game or hauling out the toy box might not be an appropriate tactic at 2 AM, but if your little one can’t stop crying, sometimes the only distraction that will soothe them is extra cuddles and love.
A soft lullaby, a reminder that they’re safe and that you’re with them until they fall back asleep can sometimes calm a teething baby who can’t stop crying otherwise.
Keep their bedtime routine
This one won’t help to soothe a teething baby immediately, but it’s a general tip to promote sleep.
Even though it may feel like the situation is so extreme that it’s worth changing your little one’s sleep routine, don’t do it if you can avoid it.
The regularity and familiarity they get from their routine is a key advantage for you.
Teething is temporary, and it’s not worth sacrificing the sleeping patterns you’ve worked to create for something that will (hopefully) be over in a week or two.
How to be sure it’s teething
Worried that your little one’s actually trying to tell you something else?
Check out our guide to teething, which covers all the symptoms that are not officially linked to teething.
Some symptoms, like fever, prolonged diarrhea, and being sick, might merit a call to your doctor instead of just another teething ring.
Hang in there, mama. And remember, you’re never the only one awake with their baby in the middle of the night. The Peanut Community is always there.
More on baby teething:
When Do Babies Start Teething?
What is a Baby Teeth Chart and How Does it Work?
How Long Does Teething Last?
12 Easy Baby Teething Remedies
Can Teething Cause Vomiting?
A Quick Guide to Teething Poop & Diarrhea