Toddler sleep concerns: Teething

Little girl awake in bed clutching her teddy

My toddler is suddenly waking up crying at night. Could the problem be teething?

Possibly. Your toddler may wake up crying for a few reasons, such as nightmares or night terrors. However, if she's teething you'll probably also see at least one of these signs:

  • red, tender gums
  • flushed cheeks
  • drooling
  • frequent chewing or biting
  • general irritability
  • discomfort when sucking

The symptoms of teething often get worse as the back teeth (molars) erupt between 12 months and 15 months. They're bigger than your toddler's first teeth, so it can be quite painful for her when they start to grow.

Your toddler's canine teeth are likely to come through at about 16 months to 22 months, and shouldn't cause her too much trouble. But the second molars, which generally come through between 20 months and 30 months, can cause another spell of night-time waking.

How can I help my teething toddler sleep better?

Although it's not always easy, stick to your regular bedtime routine as closely as possible. If you change the rules, even for a short time, your toddler may have trouble getting back on track when she's finished teething.

When your toddler wakes in the night, give her a few minutes to see if she'll nod off again on her own. Otherwise, provide cuddles and soothing words, but encourage her to stay in her own bed and try to go back to sleep.

If your toddler's teeth are bothering her too much to settle, there are a number of things you can try:

  • massage her gums with a clean finger
  • give her a cool (not frozen) teething ring or flannel to chew on
  • offer a drink of cool water
  • use a teething gel designed for infants
  • give the correct dose of infant paracetamol or ibuprofen

If your toddler has diarrhoea, a fever of 38 degrees or higher, or any other signs of illness, talk to your GP for advice.

Read more about toddler teething, and how to ease the distress.
Last reviewed: May 2015

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plz help, my son has started with molars teeth is this normal?
what is the possible illness at 19months? he has bn stooling for 2days now. what could be the cause?
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