Does Teething Impact Your Baby’s Sleep?

– Written by JoAnna Inks 

baby with a wooden block - JoAnna Inks Sleep Solutions

Do you know the story of Catherine O’leary’s cow that allegedly kicked over a lantern and started The Great Chicago Fire of 1871?

The Chicago Tribune spread rumors that the cause of this fire was an angry cow which somehow kicked a burning lantern into the barn. This disgruntled animal belonged to Catherine O’Leary, an old woman who was milking her cows at the time.

A lot of hate was directed toward Catherine and, she was haunted because of it for the rest of her life. Although the Chicago Tribune later admitted that their story was a complete lie, it didn’t stop the people from blaming Catherine!

What’s this have to do with teething, you ask?

Well, when a new client shares with me their baby’s sleep struggles there’s one thing they always mention, teething.  I’ve realized that as parents, we always want a reason why our babies aren’t sleeping well and teething almost always becomes the scapegoat like Catherine’s cow!

While it’s true that teething does cause mild discomfort to babies and can even cause a few side effects teething symptoms only last for about a week.  And, teething symptoms are not nearly as uncomfortable as parents typically imagine them to be. We hear about teeth “breaking” or “erupting” through the gums, which conjures up some cringe-worthy images, but nature is not nearly so heartless in this instance. Baby’s gums move out of the way to allow for incoming teeth.

As parents, we are naturally inclined to want to comfort our babies when they’re in pain, and rightly so!
But, before you decide that your baby is in constant pain and doomed to be a terrible sleeper because they’re teething, remember that many experts believe it doesn’t cause a significant amount of pain.

Understanding a baby and what they need can be one of the most challenging parts of parenthood. It’s my job to educate my clients about the most common reason their baby isn’t sleeping well and it’s most likely because their baby hasn’t been taught the skills he or she needs to be a good sleeper.

“Props”, such as feeding and rocking to sleep are effective in the first few months of a baby’s life.  But, as a baby gets older and more aware, these “props” stop being as helpful in a baby’s journey to sleep.  And, rather than give their baby some space to learn independent sleep skills, parents intervene and add even more “props” to a baby’s bedtime/naptime routine.

You end up with a baby very dependent on outside help to get them to sleep.  This “help” causes disruptive night time sleep and short, unpredictable naps as well as tired, frustrated parents.

Babies teethe for the better part of two years of their life.  That’s a long time to go without sleep!
Most of my clients report to me that teething doesn’t bother their babies at all.  I’ve even heard they had no idea a tooth was coming until they saw it!

If your baby is waking many times throughout the night, remember that teething does not cause nearly enough pain to disrupt sleep night after night for months. There’s something else at play here, most often you have a baby that’s not learned good sleep skills.  I’d look into teaching your baby to sleep well before placing the blame on the ‘cow’ that caused The Great Chicago Fire.

If you’re looking for someone to help you and your little one get the rest you need, click here for a complimentary call with me.  

I’d love to hear about your baby’s sleep challenges and share with you exactly how I can help you teach your baby to be an amazing sleeper with gentle sleep solutions that work.

Sleep well,


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