Last updated on April 4th, 2024

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Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

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Hi! I’m Kim West, The Sleep Lady, and in this video I’m going to answer Yolanda’s question about teething and sleep. Here’s what she wrote in:
“My daughter is nearly 14 months old and was a great sleeper until she began teething at about 9 to 10 months old.  At first, we would have a week or two of night wakings due to teeth pain and then a good week or two of sleeping through the night once the tooth came in. This seemed to be the cycle for each tooth that was about to come in.
 At about 12 months, she had four teeth coming in at the same time and our nights have never been the same since. She wakes 2 to 3 times a night and on some nights it takes an hour or so to get her back to sleep. We want her to be able to sleep through the night again, but now it’s difficult to know whether she’s waking because she’s in pain, she just wants to be held, she had a bad dream, or because a new milestone has excited her.
 I feel like a terrible mom because I usually can’t tell why she’s waking until and unless I hold her. If she stops crying, then I know she just wanted to be held or had a bad dream. If, while in my arms, she’s fidgety, whining, biting, or feels warm, then I know it’s her teeth and that’s when I may give her Tylenol.
 My husband and I are not fans of the cry-it-out method, although we’ve tried it. We did last 10 minutes.
 We know we’ve created bad habits because we used to rock her to sleep with a bottle. She’s weaned off the bottle, but we still rock her to sleep at night. My mom watches her during the day and also rocks and dances her to sleep for her naps.
 She’s down to one nap a day. Her normal sleep schedule is 7:30 p.m. to 7 – 7:30 a.m. with a 1-1 ½ hour nap around 1 o’clock.
 How can we better decipher what’s keeping her up at night so we can remedy the situation and have her sleep through the night again? And what changes should we implement if we really miss sleep? Thanks for any advice.

Increase Her Daytime Sleep

Okay, Yolanda, so your daughter has transitioned to one nap a bit early, at nearly 14 months. The average age to transition to one nap is between 15-18months. As a result, make  sure that she’s getting enough daytime sleep, because even her one nap is not that long.
Ask your mother when she’s with her — or yourself on weekends — to look at whether she could use a little 45-minute nap in the morning. If she wakes up tired  from her 1-hour nap at around 2 p.m., see if you could try to get her back to sleep. You could go into her room and coach her back to sleep to help her take a slightly longer nap. In the beginning you may have to rock her back to sleep until she has mastered the skill of putting herself to sleep at bedtime and the onset of her nap.

Sleep Coach At Bedtime

Start gentle sleep coaching both at bedtime, and throughout the night so that you stop rocking her to sleep. If she doesn’t know how to put herself to sleep at bedtime independently, then she won’t know how to do it in the middle of the night when she wakes and looks for that reassurance.

Do A Parenting Check

When she wakes at night and you are not sure why — and wish to be consistent — go into her room and do what I call a “parenting check.”
Go to her crib side and touch her so you can feel if she’s warm. Give her a little kiss, pat the mattress, and encourage her to lie down. You’ll know fairly quickly how she’s feeling. Of course, if she feels warm and you wanted to give her something (like Tylenol), you can do that. You’ll also see the teething behavior during the day so you’ll know how to respond during the middle of the night.

Gentle Sleep Coach With The Shuffle

Its important to respond consistently to your toddler, but how and what you do in the response is essential. When your toddler wakes during the night and you go in and assess that she is not warm, sick, or teething, then reassure her. Encourage her to lie down, and then sit in a chair next to crib and reassure her from there. Gently sleep coach her using  The Shuffle.

Author: Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

My name is Kim West, and I’m the mother of two beautiful girls, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 21 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. My sleep journey began when I started experimenting with gently shaping my daughter’s sleep by not following the conventional wisdom at the time. After having success (and then more success with my second daughter!), I began helping family and friends and my step-by-step method spread like wildfire, exactly like an excellent night of sleep for a tired parent should!