Q&A: Baby being spooked into crying while asleep

A friend with an almost-4-month-old asks:

"Have you heard of babies spooking easily, especially when they're asleep? The baby breaks out into crying in middle of (light) sleep, like she had a bad dream."

This seems early for night terrors, and there's no indication that she can't get back to sleep.

I'm wondering if it's teething, actually. Both of my kids seemed to have these random jolts of pain that would jerk them into crying briefly but then pass so they settled again, whther asleep or awake.

If the baby has any of the following symptoms of teething that will help you know for sure:

  • drooling
  • biting on hands
  • little "smoker's cough" in the morning (from the drool going down the back of the throat)
  • shards of drool in diaper (aka "drool stool")
  • very acidic poop
  • rash around the anus
  • rash around the mouth
  • excess peevishness (although with a baby, who can tell what's excess?)
  • flash fevers
  • sweatiness
  • refusing to eat
  • eating more
  • difficulty staying asleep


What did I forget?

If you do suspect it's teething you should give pain relief. (I adored the tylenol suppositories, because you can't beat a suppository as a dosing mechanism for an infant.)

You can layer that with one of the homeopathic teething remedies people have been using with no side effects for years. (Do you know how they work? I never cared, as long as they made my children more comfortable.) Do not bother with the homeopathic teething gel as it's useless. Instead, go for the Hyland's teething tablets or the Humphries #3 tablets (recommended by both my old pediatrcian and several old-school nannies on the playground).

If none of this matches up with what you're observing in your child, then I think it's just something that's going to pass in a few weeks anyway. Who knows why babies cry?

Has anyone else observed this in their child? Was it teething? Was it something else entirely? What did you do about it?