Inside you’ll find some odd toddler teething behaviors and how you can bring comfort and make it through with minimal fuss. Post contains affiliate links.
Two weeks my 2 year old was abducted by an alien.
His normal happy bubbly self was replaced with an angry, whiny, aggressive counterpart with the same ears.
It was all very baffling.
We watched his behavior erode throughout the week. Everyone in the family noticed it. I went through my normal mental checklist…
- Am I being too lenient with him?
- Am I being too strict?
- Does he have an ear ache?
- Is it because of the rain and he’s displaying cabin fever?
Well, after a long hard week on Friday evening I was done and we loaded all the kids up and took him to the semi local Minute Clinic.
The nurse practitioner took one look in his mouth and said, very nonchalantly…
“It’s his 2 year molars… look how swollen his gums are!”
I am such an amateur.
Toddler Getting Their 2 Year Molars?
This image will give you an idea of when to expect your little one to get teeth.
Behaviors That Accompany Toddler Teething
Here are some baffling behaviors that seem to accompany toddler teething. 2 year molars (second year molars) can be moving around under the gums for quite a while before any teeth break through.
These behaviors may be an indicator the time is drawing nigh.
Check off critical household, social, and hygiene skills for your child so they’re prepared (not petrified) of growing up!
1. Anger Due To Teething Pain
Does your child suddenly seem to be more angry than normal?
Something small, like a perfectly normal Winnie the Pooh plate, can become an object of scorn since it is not a simple blue plate to a toddler teething.
Often my toddlers started to exhibit a lot of anger that didn’t seem reasonable or characteristic of their Temperament.
Teething is painful for little ones and pain steals a child’s ability to focus well or withstand otherwise normal frustrations.
Read: 5 Parenting Skills That Help Raise Stable, Well-Adjusted Kids
2. Whinging And Whining Happen When Teeth Are Trying To Break Through
Or, as we say in the good ole US of A, whining. In retrospect, one thing all my kids have done when getting their 2 year old molars is to fall down on the floor while wailing and flailing.
I wish I was joking.
When little ones are in pain their tempers are short and they are *this close* to losing emotional composure at the drop of a hat.
This is why helping alleviate their pain, helping distract them, and extending a little grace go a long way.
Read: A Simple Step That’ll Unlock Your Child’s Heart
Pull out these fun connecting questions to share some laughs with your precious ones!
Use them at:
- meal times
- car rides
- as a “calm down” trick
- for dinner time conversation
- or any time the day is getting chaotic or
- you need a reset to connect.
3. Sleep Interruptions Happen When Molars Come In
A dear friend wrote the other day saying her 2 year old had stopped napping. He was clearly exhausted and not actually ready to drop naps and yet, he had trouble falling asleep.
He’d wake in the evening tired as well she couldn’t figure out why. So she took him to the doc and – lo and behold – 2 year old molars.
Word to the wise mama: do not drop naps at 2 years of age if you can at all help it.
Toddlers will try to convince you (and themselves) they don’t need naps around this time, but if you stay consistent and help alleviate their pain so they can sleep they’ll push through and continue napping for another year or more.
- Pacifier Weaning 101: Guide To Less Stress & Fewer Tears
- 2 Year Old Sleep Regression & How To Beat It
4. “Bad Behavior” Starts Coming Out With Teething
I put that in brackets, but one thing I’ve noticed when my toddlers are teething is an uptick in boundary crossing.
They stop following rules they used to keep and seem to defy my word more.
They’re not as happy or cooperative and you often begin to question whether you need to change disciplinary tactics.
If it’s teething, just help with the pain and ride it out. Kids who are in pain and uncomfortable simply aren’t at their best. When we are in pain, we aren’t either!
5. Teething Causes Personality Changes
This is usually a big signal for me that something physical is happening with my child. I don’t know how I missed it with my 2 year old a few weeks ago, but hindsight is 20/20.
His personality changed.
His usually happy bubbly self became sullen and angry. He stopped playing happily with the others and became very quick to hit, bite, or scream. Instead of going to sleep happily he’d fight bedtime and wake up at night.
He refused meals he normally loved and just did not act like the same child.
Read: The Smart Bedtime Routine Your Toddler Won’t Fight
So now that we know how teething can cause a lot of pain for our little ones, here are some remedies that can help you manage their pain.
Get my cheat sheets and find your family’s groove. Chore, independent play, meal, nap, bedtime, and MORE routine ideas!
You can also freeze things like wash cloths or pacifiers if your child will put something super cold in their mouths.
Best of luck, mama!
Carla Turnbull says
You could be talking about my child here! How long did it last for? Please show me the light at the end of the tunnel!
Omg I’m feeling this too! My son usually loves his family daycare and has been a terror there the past 2 weeks, having to be picked up early due to tantrums, being angry and throwing toys at the other kids and just screaming over nothing. He’s been the same at home and he is usually an Angel. I’ve seen the corner of his last molar for a few weeks and I’m just ready for it to completely cut through so we can all have my happy boy back! It’s so draining!!
I’m not seeing any remedies…
Day two and I’m delirious with this situation.. I NEED SLEEP!!! My toddler isn’t napping either. I hope this ends soon
Could it also be teething if he all of a sudden started sticking out his tongue for a few hours of the day and drooling plus mood swings, anger, and no earring when this occurs
YES!!! Sticking out the tongue and all you listed are signs of painful teething- grabbing the tongue and hitting their head or face with their hand also.
Rhonda Mccomas says
The tooth eruption chart you posted has the upper and lower second molar ages switched. The lower molars should come in first.
Rachel Norman says
Oh goood spot!
You are definitely talking about my 30 month daughter! the problem is that all
hers have broken through! Does pain continue as they are still pushing through? How long does this last?
I am so glad I ran into this article. My kid has transformed into someone I have never seen before. Fighting to eat and to sleep and fighting to everything I said to him…. Thanks for sharing, I am feeling better already.
We started last week… and it seems we still have some time to go.
Jessica Moore says
I’m so happy I landed on your blog! Our youngest is 19 months old and seemingly out of nowhere he’s turned into what can only be described as a tiny tyrant ???♀️ I hadn’t even considered his behavior change being a reaction to his 2 year old molars coming in until reading this.
You’ve basically described the behavior shift as if it were specifically written about him. I didn’t realize he was teething until putting him to bed last night when he sat up, crying, and rubbing his hands on his gums. Up until that moment, I was thinking his increased moodiness was because he wasn’t feeling well when he woke yesterday morning with a fever.
My older two boys didn’t teeth as early as he has so i never even thought to look until he basically showed me himself! I’m laughing at myself wondering how I missed all the signs when I’ve had two before him! ?
I have to say you’ve given me a light at the end of the tunnel and a little relief from my mommy guilt thinking I was somehow creating a little dictator. Can’t wait to check out the rest of your blog! ❤️❤️
You have completely saved my sanity! I was at the stage of wondering whether we need to change tactics with discipline and I only said to my husband yesterday that I don’t know who my boy is anymore. Thank you.
Same! Considering different discipline methods for my suddenly moody and aggressive 27 month old! She has had a slightly elevated temp (98.6 forehead) off and on for a few weeks and has been sleeping terribly! Fighting naps. Waking up at night. I’m exhausted and was chalking all this up to her being TWO and winter cabin fever. Was preparing for the long haul with and behavior. Now I feel terrible too! I just checked her mouth and low and behold her molars are just starting to come through- they probably can through yesterday when I was at my wits end over her “bad” behavior and feeling like a terrible mother because I couldn’t control or comfort her like usual. THANK YOI FOR THIS POST!
Rachel Norman says
It is SO HARD when the molars come in. It feels like it lasts forever too!
I am new to your site. I just quit my job and will be staying home with my 2 year old son. He was in daycare and I know he probably misses his friends. This social distancing probably has something to do with this stage/phase. I believe we are dealing with teething too because one night while crying he said my mouth hurts. The curious behavior that we are dealing with right now that we are needing help with is hitting. I don’t feel my son is doing this to be mean or that he is upset, but more to see what happens or let you know he does not want to do something, or even wants you to listen. A few examples are listed below:
– I was on the phone with the pharmacy one time and while I was asking him to give mommy a moment he said no and slapped at me. I know he was wanting my attention, but was concerned how to handle.
– One day he was playing and hit me. I sat him in a chair to talk to him and he immediately started crying saying I want to go to bed. So I feel he was just trying to get my attention to let me know he was sleepy and ready for bed already, but I was not sure to just let him go to bed, or do timeout?
– If me and my husband are in a conversation my son will just start saying stop it mommy stop it, and then hit me. Again i feel this is just to get attention, but still not sure to try to ignore or discipline and is timeout the solution.
Thank you in advance.
Rachel Norman says
Ashley, sounds like you are pretty sure he needs some limits, but definitely dont want to be too harsh and feel a little guilt. Like maybe setting some limits will be mean? I think that you will know what feels like it is not okay and then you’ll be able to make rules from there!
For me, when my daughter hits I say, “hitting is not nice. It hurts. If you hit me again you’re going to sit for 2 minutes in time out (we have a designated spot).” If she hits again I place her there and say, “you’re sitting because you hit, hitting is not nice.” If she gets up, I place her back. I make her sit in the spot 2 minutes total. If she cries or screams I ignore. When time is up we do “sorry for hitting” & hugs. She’s needed maybe 3 time outs ever. We’re at the point where a look and a warning stop the behavior.
How long does this last? My son is 21 months and he just isn’t my sweet boy right now. He had a fever for the past 4 days. Well wahoo that’s gone but still refusing food and most drinks. His gums are swollen and red where I wouldn’t think they would be since there is already a tooth in that spot. I read that the teeth move under the gum? Could that mean a tooth is coming to in the wring place? He won’t take OTC meds to help with pain. He won’t chew on anything not even popcile or ice cream. Please moms any suggestions for this first time mom. Oh and I don’t think either of us will ever asleep again. PLEASE HELP!!!!
Ice Cream n Sticky Fingers says
I remember my son getting his two year molars in around 18 months. At first, I thought it was a bit early, but after doing my research, kids can get them in that early. Between the crankiness, fever, night waking, and keeping him as comfortable as possible was my goal. We used teething toys, a fever reducer for the pain and fever, and lots of snuggles. I skipped the teething gel and baltic amber necklaces as they are both unsafe to use.
I’m not seeing the remedies listed after you state you will be giving remedies. Am I missing something? I would love to help my daughter. Thank you.
Rachel Norman says
Oh no! Looks like that widget isn’t working, hope you found them elsewhere by now :)
Knight Street Dentists says
Nice content and insights that every parents can follow through it.
Oh my gosh I am not sure when you wrote this but genius! I said the same about my son being kidnapped by aliens! I am not alone. Thanks xxxxx