Reasons On Why Baby Wakes Up Crying

Why Does a Baby Wake Up Crying?

A baby usually wakes up crying in the middle of the night because of two obvious reasons. One, he needs a diaper change and the second that he is hungry. But at times a baby may wake up crying for no apparent reason. There is no conclusive reason for babies to cry on waking up. It is quite typical of them to cry amidst sleep cycles as they may find it hard going into the subsequent one. Even some of the best sleepers may have sleep issues sometimes. Feeding or rocking can work to make them sleep. However, they may start relying on these actions too much. That is why you need to figure out the cause of his cries at night and remedy them.

Video: Baby Wakes Up Crying – Reasons & Solutions

Reasons Why a Baby Wakes Up Crying

If your baby has a problem settling down at nighttime and remaining asleep through the night, you will obviously be concerned. You will need to maintain consistency with regards to putting the baby for naps during day time and getting him to retire for the night at a reasonable hour. It is not advisable to run to the baby at his smallest whimper, as crying amid sleep cycles is usually expected and you don’t want to spoil your baby by rushing to him every other time. Hence, you need to understand the reasons why your baby cries at night. Some of the common reasons are mentioned below:

1. If your baby wakes up crying hysterically, it may be because of some physical discomfort. For example, the temperature of the room may be too cold or too hot for him, drinking or eating too little or too much can also make him cry. Sometimes he may cry if his nappy is uncomfortable and wet. At times lying in the same posture for too long can cause stiffness and he may wake up crying because of the pain. Rolling over your baby or changing his sleeping position may ease the discomfort. Occasionally, being too tired or not being tired sufficiently can also be a reason. It is important to establish a routine for the baby so that he may have enough activity and play during waking hours for him to sleep properly when he does.

2. From time to time babies can feel lonely and scared. If your baby has a nightmare, it can be very disturbing for him and bring him to tears particularly if he wakes up to discover himself alone. A bit of loving attention or possibly gentle talk can help your baby calm down from emotional turbulence. In case your baby wakes up crying with his eyes closed, he may have experienced a sleep terror. Sleep terrors are different from nightmares and can also induce sleep disturbances. Your little one may sit up crying and thrashing throwing a kind of hysteria. In the instance of a sleep terror, the baby is not fully awake. A definitive trigger of sleep terror is not known. However, sleep deprivation can intensify the likelihood of its occurrence.

3. Babies can experience some rough spells from teething to plausible infections. Moreover, illness can have an aggravated impact at night. Since a baby has no other medium to express his discomfort, he may start crying. Sometimes, a baby may cry because of indigestion. You may identify it by a short-tempered, irritable cry which is not too loud, more like a wail. In such instances, he may toss and turn and seemingly perspire heavily. A stomach ache can be another likely cause. The distinguishing feature is usually the sudden sharp cries and baby curling up in apparent response to the abdominal pain. Periodically sinus and blocked nose worsened by a common cold can have repercussions for a baby. In case there is mucous congestion, it will be evident by phlegm in the baby’s cries. Sometimes ear or throat ache, fever can also distress a baby, enough to upset his sleep and make him cranky. However, most of these causes are not of serious concern and can be easily relieved by medical care.

A baby crying

4. On occasions, a baby may suffer from separation anxiety. The idea that parents may leave and not be around can be frightening for a baby. To add to the problem waking abruptly at night and not having the caregiver there may instil fear and anxiety in the baby. In such a scenario playing a game like peek-a-boo with your baby can promote object permanence in him and would be extremely beneficial for him when you go out to run an errand leaving him with his daddy.

5. In due course of time, babies cover different exciting milestones like rolling on their side, sitting up, crawling, taking their first step, walking which may impact their sleep at night. For example, a baby may successfully pull himself up taking the support of a table or chair but can have a miserable time sitting back down. All the new milestones may wire a baby’s brain at a remarkable rate causing his sleep to become less restful. An exciting day’s activities may also disrupt his peaceful sleep.

6. Even though your baby may have established an eating pattern it doesn’t necessarily mean that he can’t wake up crying from hunger. In case you have just weaned him from night feedings, remember to feed him extra during the day. After introducing solid food to your baby, do not reduce his milk intake immediately. Offer him the same measure of milk to see if it helps him sleep better.

How to Stop Your Baby From Crying When They Wake Up?

There are some tips and tricks you can try to stop your baby from crying when they wake up. Let’s check some you can follow:

  • Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding well during the day and keeping your baby satiated before putting them to sleep keeps hunger pangs at bay at night and ensures a disturb-free night.
  • Always maintain a calm and silent environment in the house when your baby is sleeping. If your little one gets disturbed during their sleep, they may wake up agitated and end up crying.
  • Start early with a short duration of separation with your baby to reduce their clinginess and dependency on you all the time. You can put your baby in a crib and let them play by themselves or play a peek-a-boo game.
  • Develop a self-soothing routine with your baby. This will reduce their dependency on you to sleep well.
  • Put a night light, add starry stickers on the ceiling wall, or draw curtains for the baby to stare at and get back to sleep when they wake up.
  • If your little wonder has a cold or cough, then giving them baby-safe medications or performing nasal suction before putting them to sleep will help in a sound sleep.
  • Similarly, if your little one is going through the teething phase, get medications prescribed by your baby’s paediatrician.

When Do Babies Stop Crying When They Wake Up?

There is no such particular age at which babies stop crying after waking up. When babies get old, their sleep duration increases, and they wake up less during their sleep sessions. However, it is possible for older babies to wake up crying if they get disturbed by anything during their sleep.

Each child is different and thus may have a unique sleeping pattern. Babies, till the age of 4-6 months, do not have long sleep durations, and most of them wake because of hunger. By the time they are nine months old, they will have a comparatively long sleep duration than 4-6 months old babies.

When to Consult a Doctor?

If you see a pattern or a continuous trend in your baby’s excessive crying for several hours after waking up or having trouble sleeping again after waking up, then you should immediately consult the paediatrician. It is also important to be sure of any physical ailment that could make the baby cry after waking up, like gas or indigestion.


1. Do Babies Have Nightmares?

It is possible for babies to have nightmares.

2. Why Does My Baby Wake Up Crying and Appearing Afraid?

Babies may wake up crying, feel agitated, and appear afraid if they experience any night terror or nightmare.

3. What Happens If You Let a Baby Cry for a Long Time?

Excessive crying or letting a baby cry for a long time can double the risk of hyperactivity, problematic behaviour, mood problems, sensitivity, and conduct problems by the age of five or six years. 

There is no one clear-cut solution that will work for all babies. Each and every baby is different. Therefore, finding out reasons and solutions becomes a challenging experiment wherein theories may be tested to see if a method works. In most cases, it can turn into a waiting game wherein letting the stage pass may work best. If you try everything and nothing works for your baby, you must seek a paediatrician’s advice.

Also Read: Baby Frequently Waking Up – Causes & What To Do?

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