My Child is Teething and Won’t Sleep


Teething | Central Mass MomTeething has long been blamed for sleep disturbances. It seems that teething has become a catch-all for some relatively vague symptoms with no solid diagnosis. ⁣Yup, a teething child can be a bear. They are drooly and cranky and often it feels there is nothing you can do for them. 

First, A Story

One day my perfect little sleeper woke up in the middle of the night at about 1 am. It took me 3 hours to get him back to sleep. A few days later, it happened again but this time he never fell back asleep. So, it’s time to go get those ears checked. The on-call pediatrician gave us the all-clear on the ears but suggested he had reflux. I did not agree.

The wake-ups continued, the reflux medicine didn’t help. Now he was taking hours to fall asleep and waking early. Back to our pediatrician. She suggested it was just teething. I wasn’t convinced, but back home with go with some doses of Motrin before bed. Shockingly (sarcasm), the Mortin did not help his sleep. 

He has always been a headbanger to self-soothe, but during this time it continued to get increasingly violent. He was covered in bruises. I was scared for his safety in his crib and began planning to move him into a bed. And then another visit to the pediatrician. And again, a diagnosis of “it’s just teething”. We did get a CT ordered, more for concern of the headbanging injuries. Then…


He did the dreaded launching himself headfirst out of the crib onto the floor. Off to the Emergency Room, we went. There we received the all-clear of any injury or illness. However, our beloved ER pediatrician suggested that there is not only teething and developmental progress going on, but appears to have separation anxiety and behavioral issues going on as well. Thankfully, he has no major health problems at this time. We reached out to a psychotherapist who was able to help us work with his separation anxiety and found that he was sensory seeking. We now have a treatment route and he began to sleep again. Even with those pesky teeth still coming in. 

Symptoms of Teething

  • Drooling

  • Pain

    • Ear tugging

    • Headbanging

    • Hand-sucking

    • Chewing

  • Fussiness

Symptoms Blamed on Teething

  • Fever (100.4 degrees F or higher)

  • Excessive drooling

  • Diarrhea

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Rashes

  • Congestion  

  • Vomiting

When Should I Question a Teething Diagnosis?

Always. I’m half kidding here. There are times where it really is just teething. If they are mild and common symptoms and you do not have any underlying concerns then it is probably just teething. But if you have any symptoms that are not caused by teething, you need a second opinion. If you have a gut feeling something isn’t right, get that second opinion. Most of the time, it probably is something completely benign. Maybe just teething, maybe it’s just boundary-pushing. Maybe it’s a cold or ear infection. But maybe there is something else going on. 

Are you sure that it isn’t just teething keeping my kid awake?

The truth is teething does not typically cause sleep disturbances. Okay, it can cause a BRIEF disruption when the tooth is cutting, and sometimes those pesky canines can cause a little extra discomfort. But if you are having prolonged sleep disturbances (beyond 1 night, maybe 2) you need to make sure there is nothing going on medically (think ear infection) or behaviorally. If they are healthy, then it is time to work on sleep!⁣

When in doubt, contact your pediatrician and make sure your child is not ill. ⁣And frankly, if the best answer your pediatrician comes up with is teething and that doesn’t sit right with you, never be afraid to advocate for your child and get a second opinion.


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