Why do Babies Suddenly Cry in Their Sleep? (Causes And Remedies)

Sometimes it can be a mystery as to why one minute your baby is sound asleep. They look peaceful and content; the next minute, they scream from the top of their lungs.

You could think you’ve done everything right regarding feeding, nappy changes, and creating a comforting environment. Yet, they still suddenly wake up crying, arms and legs flailing, and screaming at the top of their voices.

The truth is, chances are you have indeed done everything right, but because babies are so small, the slightest change can cause them to stir.

Why Does a Baby Wake Up Crying?

Why Does a Baby Wake Up Crying

There are many reasons a baby might wake up crying, because their covers have come off. They’re too cold and could be suffering from teething pain or something as simple as wanting a cuddle from their parents.

Of course, on rare occasions, there could be a more sinister reason that your baby is waking up crying. This is why monitoring their general health and any changes is essential. If you think your baby might be crying because they’re in pain, then you should seek immediate help from a medical professional. After all, this guide is solely to advise babies that aren’t suffering from any health condition.

Throughout this article, I will tell you about the possible causes of your baby waking up crying . I will give you tips on what you can do to stop/prevent this from happening.

Of course, in the case of newborn babies, waking up crying is 100% normal. It is often because their tummies are so tiny they quickly digest their feed, meaning they wake up feeling hungry.

Cause And Remedies

In general, babies tend to wake up a few times per night and can often fight sleep, especially when they’re brand new, and in most cases, it’s because they’re hungry. However, as your baby gets a little older, the times they wake during sleep should naturally decrease.

Older babies can still be disturbed during the night, and it can be hard to get them back to sleep, especially if you’re unsure of what roused them in the first place.

So, let’s look at the possible causes and remedies for your baby waking up during the night.

1. Hunger


As I have already mentioned, one of the most common causes for your baby waking up crying is that they’re hungry. This is especially the case if your baby is a newborn. This is because babies need to eat every 2-3 hours while they are so young.

As they get old, this gets easier. By the time your baby is around six months old, you’ll find this becomes a lot less frequent, and they will be able to sleep for more extended periods without waking up hungry.

Remedy: Unfortunately, this is a stage in your baby’s life when you must become accustomed to waking up at night to feed your baby. However, this isn’t a concern as long as they get the proper sleep.

2. Teething


Another common cause for babies waking up crying is because they are suffering from what is known as teething pain.

The teething stage of a baby’s life usually occurs around 4-6 months old. It can be a stressful, challenging time that can feel like it’s never going to end.

The pain a baby feels while teething can cause them a lot of discomforts, and of course, they’re too young to understand why they’re in pain.

You can recognize if teething is the cause of your baby waking up crying because they will be showing other symptoms, such as drooling and chewing on everything on site. Their gums may appear red or swollen.

Remedy: You can do a few things to ease your baby’s discomfort during teething, although it won’t cure the problem. You can feed them cold foods such as yogurt and offering teething toys to chew on comfortably. Some over-the-counter medications and teething gels are suitable for babies and can help relieve the pain.

3. Sickness


Like adults, when a baby feels under the weather, it can drastically disrupt their sleep and mean they either struggle to fall asleep or wake up during the night.

Whether your baby is experiencing stomach pain or has a fever, it can mean that they become inconsolable, making nighttime pretty rough.

Remedy: Of course, the main thing to consider when your baby is unwell is the cause of the sickness. Once you have determined this, you can begin to work on helping your baby recover. Speak to your pediatrician about health concerns, and ensure you’re medicating them correctly.

4. Gas/Colic


Colic is a common condition in babies, usually because of feeding. While babies are very young, their tiny tummies are developed enough to digest milk in the same way older children and adults can. It can also occur when an infant swallows too much air while feeding.

Furthermore, when babies are unable to digest their meals properly, it can lead to them become gassy and bloated, which can, of course, lead to a lot of discomfort in the form of stomach pain. Unlike adults, they can’t relieve themselves of their excess gas.

Remedy: Your baby will need some help relieving its gas, whichever end it might need to escape from. Some tips for assisting them in this area are gently folding their legs towards their tummies, massaging their stomachs, or rubbing and patting their backs. You can also help to prevent this by holding their milk bottles upright so that no air bubbles form while they’re feeding.

5. Environment


Many things can contribute to a baby’s environment, which can cause them to wake up distressed and crying. This could be because there is too much light or noise in the room, or they’ve filled their nappy. Or because their covers have fallen off and caught a chill.

Remedy: Before putting your baby down for a nap, ensure everything is correct regarding their sleeping environment. Check they haven’t soiled their nappies, ensure the room is at an ample temperature, not too hot and not too cold, and try to avoid too many distractions.

6. Sleep Regression

Sleep Regression

Sleep regression is something that all babies go through. Still, for some reason, it’s not something that all pediatricians will warn you about.

Sleep regression occurs when your baby is going through different stages in their developmental periods, which usually happens at four, six, eight, twelve, and twenty-four months.

What causes sleep regression during these stages can be any change that coincides with their growing personalities and independence. For example, if your baby has reached a stage where they no longer require a night feed but still want one, or they’re used to sleeping in a crib by your bedside and have now been moved into their room.

Remedy: Try to slowly introduce any changes to your baby’s sleep schedule. Of course, any changes are bound to take a while for them to get used to, but the thing to focus on is persistence and setting constructive boundaries.

7. Night Terrors

Night Terrors

Children who suffer from night terrors are usually a little older, around three or four years old. However, it has been proven that babies as young as 18 months can suffer from this disturbing sleep disorder.

In younger babies, these terrors are recognized as an overactive startle reflex, which you will probably be familiar with. It’s when your baby wakes up suddenly with all arms and legs out straight as though something has jolted them from their slumber.

Remedy: If your baby has woken suddenly like this, a gentle rub or pat on their tummies or back should send them back to sleep.

8. Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety 

Suppose you have an older baby, aged around 9-12 months. In that case, they can begin to show signs of suffering from separation anxiety. Suppose this is something that is causing them to wake up during the night. In that case, it’s usually down to their development progress rather than discomfort or an environmental issue.

Sometimes babies will wake and cry for short periods before falling back to sleep by themselves. However, some won’t let you up until you go to their aid.

Remedy: This can be a challenging time because it is when your baby should be learning to fall asleep without the presence of a parent. It can be tempting to bring them into your room or cuddle them back to sleep to get through the night. Be careful, though, as babies aren’t daft. They can soon pick up on how to manipulate a situation to get a cuddle on demand, whether it’s the middle of the night or not.

Try to leave your baby for a few minutes to see if the crying calms down, in which case; your baby is probably quickly learning that they can sleep by themselves. However, suppose the crying becomes too frantic. In that case, you might have to look at other ways of calming your baby, such as altering their environment or playing soothing sounds.

Another way to deal with separation anxiety is to leave them in the care of another trusted family member for short periods. They realize it can’t always be you at their demand.

In Short

Your baby will wake up crying many times throughout their infanthood; that’s a given. And most of the reasons for this occurring are entirely natural and something they will grow out of as they develop.

Newborn babies are most likely to wake up a few times through the night, especially for the first four months, because this is when they go the longest without food. Hence, when they wake up, they feel the discomfort of extreme hunger, and their only way to let you know is by crying.

Lastly, you must check on your baby’s general health, and keep up with your pediatrician appointments to keep any underlying health conditions at bay. Ensure that nothing more sinister is the cause of them waking up through the night. Suppose you think your baby’s cries are more extreme than simple hunger calls or teething pain. In that case, you should seek medical help with immediate effect.

Sarah Wagner

I'm Sarah Wagner, and I founded Sweet Island Dreams in 2022. It's a blog dedicated to helping people mental vacation virtually anytime they want. By providing information about the best sleep of your life, I help people drift away to paradise without ever having to leave their bed!