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  • Writer's pictureForthe Baby

Baby Crying in Sleep – Reasons and Ways to Soothe

Updated: Nov 13, 2022


It's not just your imagination: babies are experts at crying. Whether they're sleeping or awake, they can always figure out how to let you know they're unhappy! But why do babies cry in their sleep? Is there anything you can do to help soothe them? We've got answers to all those questions and more—along with some tips on how to get them back down once they wake up again.

What is My Baby Thinking?

Knowing that your baby is crying because they need something, and knowing what that something is can be difficult. But there are ways to decode the messages babies are trying to send us.

Baby’s cry with a purpose! They want us to know when they are hungry or uncomfortable or scared, so we can help them feel safer again. Babies also cry when they want our attention; their cries become louder and more urgent when we ignore them for too long. So next time your baby is crying (and I hope this never happens), remember what you have been taught about soothing techniques and use these tools to calm your little one!

Newborn Sleep Schedules

If a newborn is crying, it's often because they're hungry or tired.

Newborns need to be held and kept warm as often as every 2-4 hours. This is because they have very little control over their body temperature, so adults must make sure that their environment stays comfortable enough for them to sleep well. It may also help if the adult has their hand on the belly button area of a sleeping newborn (sometimes called "belly patting"), since this can calm them down when they wake up during the night and feel lonely for contact with an adult.

If you think about how much newborns eat in relation to how much sleep they get each day, it makes sense that many babies tend toward being cranky at night. If an adult eats dinner around 6pm and goes to bed at midnight after watching TV for two hours, then by 8am he'll probably be hungry again (for breakfast!). The same logic applies when we look at how much time babies spend sleeping compared with how much time awake during their first year: A baby might only get four hours of sleep in between feedings during his first month of life!

Swaddling For Sleep

  • Swaddling is a technique used to help babies sleep better.

  • It is also known as wrapping or bundling.

  • It is a technique that helps babies feel secure and comfortable.

  • Swaddling can help calm your baby and promote sleep if done correctly, but it's important not to overdo it, since swaddling too tightly may cause hip problems later on.

Swaddling can be a useful tool to help your baby sleep better, but it’s important not to overdo it. Babies should only be swaddled for up to two months, after which time they begin rolling over and need their freedom of movement.

Night Feedings

Night Feedings

Night feedings can become a habit for your baby and for you, but they may not be in the best interest of either one of you. On some nights, parents may find it easier to go along with their baby's wishes by feeding them at night rather than fighting them off and trying to put them back to sleep on their own. This can lead to more problems down the road, though: both parents will develop anxiety about putting their baby down in order to get any sleep themselves (especially if they've been doing this since birth), which is another reason why most pediatricians recommend that parents start weaning their babies off night feedings right away after birth.

What if My Baby Won't Go to Sleep?

When you’re a new parent, it's important to know that your baby needs lots of sleep. Your newborn will sleep most of the time (about 16 hours per day), and this is normal. The problem arises when your child doesn't get enough sleep, as he could develop problems like colic and ear infections.

You may be worried about how much your baby sleeps—but don't worry! Most babies start sleeping through the night at around 6 months old, though some babies take longer than others.

The average sleep needs for an infant are: Newborns (0-2 months) - 12 to 18 hours per day Infants (3-11 months) - 12 to 16 hours per day

Toddlers (1-3 years) - 12 to 14 hours per day Preschoolers (3-5 years) - 11 to 13 hours per day

School-age children (5-12 years) - 10 to 11 hours per day

Teenagers (13-17 years) - 8 to 10 hours per day

Adults (18 years and older) - 7 to 9 hours per day

The amount of sleep that your baby or child needs can change as they get older. The average newborn sleeps about 16 hours per day, but that number drops as they grow older. By the time children are teens, they only need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.

Why Does My Baby Wake Up So Often?

There are many reasons your baby may be waking up in the middle of the night.

  • Your baby's hunger: If he is hungry, he may be crying out of discomfort or frustration because he is not able to soothe himself by sucking on a bottle or breast. If this is the case, try offering him a pacifier before bedtime instead.

  • Your baby's wetness: Diapers should be changed every few hours with young babies (every 2-3 hours). Older babies can go longer between changes and will usually sleep through the night without needing one unless they have had an accident or soiled their diaper during sleep time.

  • Your baby's diaper rash: A diaper rash can cause painful itching that keeps your child up at night. You can try using some topical ointment such as Vaseline or Aquaphor if the rash looks red and irritated; if it seems more like chafing you may want to use zinc oxide cream instead (both kinds tend to be greasy though). Also make sure that whatever method you're using doesn't contain any fragrances that might irritate sensitive skin further!

Blackout Curtains, Noise Machines and More Sleep Tips

There are a few ways you can soothe your baby to sleep. A blackout curtain will keep the light out of their eyes and help them stay asleep, and noise machines can mask any background noise that might be keeping them awake.

If you’re looking for an effective way to eliminate any outside distractions from interrupting your baby’s restful slumber, we recommend trying either a sound machine or white noise machine. Both of these products work by generating soothing sounds that drown out other noises in the environment so that they don’t disturb your child while they sleep. If your child isn't used to having one of these devices nearby when she's sleeping, start by placing it next to her bed until she becomes accustomed to it—this may take several nights or even weeks! Then move it further away (but still within reach), repeating this process until eventually you've moved it into another room altogether but still within earshot range of each other's beds."

Baby Crying in Sleep – Reasons and Ways to Soothe

Understand why your baby is crying in their sleep.

There are many reasons why a baby might cry in their sleep, and some of them are more serious than others. If you’re concerned about the reason for your baby’s nighttime wailing, call their doctor or pediatrician immediately.

Sleep-related problems can be caused by:

  • A dirty diaper (a common cause of nighttime crying)

  • Pain from teething or an ear infection

  • Hunger pains caused by low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) or no longer getting enough breast milk or formula during naps and at bedtime

Anxiety and stress from being in an unfamiliar environment or around new people, such as when traveling. Sleep-related problems are not caused by: Being too hot or cold Being too tightly swaddled Having a wet diaper

Understanding why your baby is crying in their sleep can help you figure out how to comfort them.

For some parents, their baby's sleep is blissfully peaceful. For others, the nights are filled with wailing and crying that can make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. If your baby seems to be crying in their sleep more than they do when they're awake, here are some of the most common reasons why your infant might be waking up at night:

  • Hunger

  • Pain

  • Wet diaper/soiled clothes

  • Gas/constipation/colic pain

Overstimulation/overheating Gas/constipation/colic pain Lack of sleep or too much stimulation during the day (ie. a teething baby) Overstimulation—too many people in the room, loud noises, bright lights, etc.


Babies are absolutely amazing, and it’s always a relief to see them sleeping soundly at the end of the day. But if your baby wakes up in the middle of the night crying, it can be hard to know what they need or how to soothe them back off to sleep. It’s important not only that we understand why our babies are crying but also that we have strategies prepared so we can help them feel better as quickly as possible!


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