Nighttime Teething Nightmare- Why Teething Makes Your Baby Cry More At Night and What May Help

by Jessica Martin-Weber

This post made possible by the generous support of Ready Rocker
Use Code: TLB-30 for 30% off your cart on readyrocker.com

 

Ever noticed that when your baby is teething their crankiness and discomfort seems to get worse at night? Or even how sometimes they seem TOTALLY fine during the day and then suddenly at night they can’t seem to settle and are fussy and cranky and you’re not even sure why only later to notice they have puffy red gums or even a brand new tooth?

It’s not your imagination, this really does happen and there’s a reasonable explanation too. Which means there’s also something you can do about it.

What’s the deal? Why are teething symptoms worse at night?


Teething babies are often at the age of exploration of the world around them. They are ready to move! Even if they aren’t very mobile, they’re rapidly taking in information, interacting socially, and physically developing new skills daily. A little bit of teething isn’t going to slow them down, they’ve got people to see, places to go, adventures to take, play to make! Even if they do have moments during the day, there’s a lot going on around them to distract them at least a little bit from what’s going on in their mouth and head.

Once regular night time and day time sleep patterns are worked out in the brain, right around 4 months, babies have the same general physiological cycles related to sleep in their bodies as adults do. During the day the build something that’s called sleep pressure in the brain which makes them ready to sleep at night (give or take… and that doesn’t mean they won’t fight sleep, just that their brain is ready for it biologically), their bodies naturally release melatonin as daylight fades and artificial light lowers, and their cortisol levels naturally drop to make it easier for them to sleep at night. Just like adults, as they get tired and ready for sleep, they can become more emotional and little challenges will suddenly seem bigger.

What does this have to do with worsening teething symptoms? Lower cortisol levels means that stressors like pain aren’t being managed as much by the brain and become more noticeable. Not only are there less distractions to take their attention off the discomfort, there is even less of the chemical cocktail the body produces that helps with coping with such discomfort.

Meaning more ouch.

That’s not all, either.

The body does most of the growing it needs to do during sleep. Sometimes our children literally do wake up bigger in the morning, their bodies having been busy during the night before. While asleep, the body can efficiently direct energy to growth and healing. Exactly why doctors have been telling us to sleep when sick, rest is essential for growth and repair. This includes teeth! It is very possible your baby’s teething symptoms get worse at night because their teeth really are moving more at night. A process that involves shifting bone and slowly cutting through gum tissue causing headaches, mouth pain, and general discomfort. No wonder there are tears!

With nothing to distract them, lower levels of chemicals that reduce pain, and more movement of the teeth at night all combine to create a perfect storm of middle of the night fussiness or downright screaming.

What can help?

While you can’t change the natural sleep patterns in the body, you can help make your baby more comfortable through teething. Nothing is a guarantee but every little bit of hope help and any of these steps may at least help reduce discomfort so there’s a bit more rest for everyone.

 

 

Respond quickly. Don’t wait for your baby’s fussing to escalate to full-fledged wailing in distress. Being responsive to their early communication that they need help will help them emotionally regulate and manage the stress of their discomfort as calmly as they possibly can.

Rule out other concerns. Just to be sure that your baby’s distress is about teething pain, check out your baby to rule out any other concerns. This will allow you to relax as much as possible that their discomfort is unfortunate but not alarming. With your anxiety lower, your baby will pick up on your calm and feel safe and secure that you are there with them even though they’re uncomfortable.

Nurse more! Breastfeeding releases chemicals in the baby’s brain that actually lower pain levels. Nurse is already co-regulating for emotional distress, the oxytocin released in calming and connecting but studies show that a baby being latched and sucking, receiving their milk from their parent, can reduce pain and even keep it from starting. Nursing more could be the ticked to getting through those nighttime teething pains.

Skin-to-skin. Easily accomplished with nursing but possible to do otherwise too, skin-to-skin as pain relief and soothing measures for pain is an incredibly effective non-pharmacological means to help your baby feel better.

Protect naps. Sleep begets sleep and lack of sleep can show up as hyperactivity at night. Protecting sleep during the day means that nap times are even more important. You may decide that more or longer nap times are worth the possible nighttime sleep shortening if teething is going on for a while and your little one just can’t seem to get enough sleep at night.

Earlier bedtime. If sleep has already been disrupted, having an earlier bedtime may help get more quality sleep in before the pain and discomfort kicks into high gear during the night. It isn’t uncommon for babies and toddlers to have difficulty sleeping after 11pm or midnight meaning you’ll easily see 1am, 2am, and 3am when they are teething if they’re really uncomfortable. Getting to bed earlier (you too!) may mean there’s more sleep happening that is better quality before the disruptions get started.

Rocking, swinging, swaying. There’s a reason most of us automatically start swaying or rocking when we hear a baby crying even if we’re not holding the baby ourselves: rocking soothes the brain! Studies show that rocking or swinging lowers stress levels, reduces pain and discomfort, and soothes emotional dysregulation. As simple as it may seem, rocking your baby at night really does help them feel better and you too!

Pain relief mediation. Liquid infant Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen may reduce your baby’s pain enough for them to get the sleep they need… and maybe you too! Be sure to use according to directions and try not to use more than 3 nights in a row and check with your child’s healthcare provider before administering.

Teething gel. There are safe, soothing teething gel options you can put directly on your baby’s gums to help reduce inflammation and pain. Be sure it doesn’t have benzocaine or other numbing agents in them as that can create a risk of choking and impair their swallowing.

Teething tablets. With a safe blend of herbs, teething tablets dissolve easily for baby and 

Have realistic expectations. Cutting teeth IS painful. It’s a lot of work and it is understandable that your baby complains about it. They want help making the pain goaway for good reason. Having realistic expectations about teething will help you stay calm even when you’re exhausted and feeling helpless and your baby will be able to draw from your calm for their own calm.

Remember this is temporary. Teething does stop at some point. Your baby isn’t going to be cutting new teeth forever. There may be long stretches of teething (my baby once cute 12 teeth one right after the other, teething for a few months straight) which makes it really difficult to remember that this is temporary but keeping that in mind can help get through those long nights.


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Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of wereallhumanhere.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 23 years.

Natulo Giveaway

So many businesses get started from an idea based on a need, whether it be a lack of availability, a completely new product, or improving on something that’s already out there.  Natulo is no different.  Created by work-at-home-mom Katrin, Natulo is still a very small business, but Katrin believes her products can benefit moms and little ones everywhere, especially when they need relief from everyday ouchies. Get to know Kartin and Natulo in the following interview, and then enter their Dr. Seuss-inspired giveaway!

Katrin's pic

TLB:  What would you like TLB readers to know about Natulo?

Katrin:  Natulo was inspired after my daughter was born. One of those sleepless teething nights inspired me to create our Natulo IceTeethers. Initially we started off with the plastic teethers in the freezer. But as I grew crunchier, with time, and started traveling more, we needed something which stayed cold longer and was not made of plastic. After the birth of my son, I created the OuchEase bags. With nursing challenges and an active toddler, we had our share of ouchies which needed warmth and cooling. Everyday life inspired our products which we use on a regular basis at our house.

TLB:  What is the inspiration behind your name? 

Katrin:  Ha, we spent one afternoon looking for a name which sounded natural. A pound of Nature, some Nautical and a pinch of “natural.”  As a little SAHM startup I wanted to have a website and Natulo was still available, so, my little home business had a name.

TLB:  What would you say are some of Natulo’s key values in making products for mommies and babies?

Katrin:  The products we create need to be non plastic, natural and/or organic, easy to use and  practical; solve an everyday problem for mommies and/or babies.

TLB:  Could you tell us a bit more about the OuchEase bags?

Katrin:  The OuchEase bags are made from organic cotton fabric with fun prints, mostly Dr. Seuss themed. Inside the bags is organic jasmin rice. These bags can be put in the freezer (we always have one frozen), but they can also be heated up in either the Microwave or the oven. The rice will hold the temperature, weather cold or warm, so that the bag then can be applied to whatever ouchy there might be, from Mommy’s engorged Boob to little one’s bee sting or twisted ankle or bumped head. And believe me, the fun prints make all the difference to get the kiddos thinking about something other than how much they are hurting.

TLB:  What is your favorite breastfeeding tip?

Katrin:  Stick with it! With my first, nursing came natural and easy – with my second the first two months were very hard with lots of tears. I’m happy I remembered the time nursing with my first and I knew I would just stick with it, we (baby and I) would work together and  find our way ..which we finally did.:)

natulo logo

Natulo is giving away one OuchEase bag to two lucky Leakies.
(winner’s choice of print)

OuchEase Bag: 100% colorful organic Dr. Seuss Cotton – filled with organic rice – your choice of the Dr. Seuss theme (make sure to comment which one you’d like to win) – Retail Value: $25.00

Natulo - OuchEase - The LoraxNatulo - OuchEase - Lorax Flowers

Currently Leakies can find these and other practical mommy and baby items on the Natulo website www.natulo.com.

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Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from June, 10th, 2014 through June 17th, 2014.  A big thanks to Katrin and Natulo this show of support to our breastfeeding community; please be sure to visit their Facebook page and thank them for this giveaway opportunity.

This giveaway is restricted to U.S. residents only.

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Mommy Jewelry Sturdy and Purdy Giveaway

Becoming a parent is an event that changes you, and life as you know it, in many expected and surprising ways – most everyone recognizes this.  Perhaps less recognized, is that having your second child is often just as, if not even more, full of surprises and changes than with your first.  You think you have this parenting thing figured out with one, and then realize that what worked for them isn’t going to cut it for the second.  There’s beauty in the reality that as your family grows and changes, you all change and grow together.  This is something that Jeemaa, jewelry maker and TLB sponsor, is experiencing right now!  She shares some of her thoughts in a brief interview below, and shares some of the creations that her new baby boy have inspired with The Leaky Boob community through a giveaway further down the page.  



TLB:  First of all, congratulations Jeemaa, on the arrival of your new baby!  How is everyone adjusting to this cute new family member?

Jeemaa:  Thank you so very much!  We are overjoyed to welcome our son Oliver.  He is adorable and we are all slowly adjusting to our new hectic life!  The first couple of weeks were rough for our two year old Zachary, but he has quickly turned into a loving and caring big brother.  It melts my heart when I see him bond with his little brother!

TLB:  Have you been able to enjoy some quality down time since the birth?

Jeemaa:  At the moment, it is hard to find time for myself, but my husband and I try to save Friday nights for DVR date night.  We really look forward to it!  Once we establish a good routine that works for everyone, I am sure I will be able to have some quality time for myself.

TLB:  Have you noticed anything different with your breastfeeding experience this time around, and has it changed any of your views on breastfeeding?

Jeemaa:  Breastfeeding did not come easy to me with my first.  The first few months were a blur and all I remember is a lot of pain, problems with latching, mastitis more than a few times and the list goes on.  I was pretty close to giving up but kept telling myself one more week.  I think Zachary was about five months when I could finally say “OK, I think I can do it!”   The second time around, it has been a lot easier!  Oliver latched on like a seasoned pro!  I still had a few of the same issues (e.g., mastitis, oversupply) that I had with my first, but I knew where to look for answers.  I think my views on breastfeeding are evolving and I am definitely more respectful and understanding of others’ decisions – whatever that might be.

TLB:  What is your favorite breastfeeding tip?

Jeemaa:  I have two. Have contact information for a good lactation consultant handy!  My life saver is Chris Harter in Columbus, Ohio.  She is an amazing woman full of knowledge and life time experience!  Also, take advantage of the breastfeeding help lines!

TLB:  How has your new baby affected your jewelry making business, and do you have any special plans for 2013?

Jeemaa:  A new baby means less time and I have to use my limited time wiser.  It also means new inspirations and new ideas!  Just starting from last week, Oliver started grabbing my necklace with his tiny hands.  I noticed that he loves grabbing the chunky textured wooden beads more and I thought I don’t have enough of those in my shop.  I love colors … especially the colors I find in semi precious stones.  Combining his favorite textured beads with my favorite semi precious stone beads, I created more Teething Ring Statement Necklaces.  I love the way they look and feel and would like to offer two of them for the TLB readers. I hope you will like them as much as Oliver and I do!

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Jeemaa  is giving away two (2) different prizes to two (2) lucky Leakies – one prize each.  The prizes are:

  1. A Teething Ring Statement Necklace with Rose Quartz: Made of all natural maple ring, wooden beads and a coin shaped flat Rose Quartz stone. It is simple yet pretty! The textured beads and the movable wooden ring will keep the lil ones’ hands busy.  Retail Value: $16.00
  2. A Teething Ring Statement Necklace with Turquoise: Made of all natural maple ring,  wooden beads and a coin shaped flat Turquoise stone. It is simple yet pretty! The textured beads and the movable wooden ring will keep the lil ones’ hands busy.  Retail Value: $16.00

 

Currently Leakies can find these necklaces (and others!) in Jeemaa’s Etsy shop:
https://www.etsy.com/listing/109554099/nursing-necklace-teething-ring-statement
https://www.etsy.com/listing/122924417/nursing-necklace-teething-ring-statement

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Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from March 5, 2013 through March 11, 2013.  A big thanks to Jeemaa and Mommy Jewelry Sturdy and Purdy for their ongoing support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to visit their Facebook page and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity.

This giveaway open to international entries. 

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