Why Does Baby Wake Up Crying?

blankWhy does baby wake up crying?

Most often, a baby wakes up crying to eat, because they are wet or dirty, or to have their sleep association recreated (such as replacing a pacifier).

But, what does it mean when your baby wakes up crying from a nap, or in the morning when they are “done” sleeping? In this blog post, I’ll provide information and tips for when your baby wakes up crying.

Baby Crying Between Sleep Cycles

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive reason as to why a baby wakes up crying. However, it is normal for them to cry between sleep cycles.

When my firstborn woke up crying, 90% of the time it meant that he was not done sleeping. He may have partially woken up between sleep cycles and was having trouble going into the next one. My second son had a much easier time going into the next sleep cycle, but he still whimpered a bit between sleep cycles.

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Should You Tend To Your Baby When They Wake Up Crying?

As a sleep consultant with over 13 years of experience, I strongly encourage you NOT to run at the slightest whimper. Crying between sleep cycles is normal and expected. Babies might not cry between sleep cycles every time, but they do sometimes. Some babies cry in their sleep.

I am not saying you need to allow your baby to cry-it-out. Not at all! But, any amount of crying feels too long.

My second son did not have as much of a luxury to be attended to at the slightest whimper because I had my toddler son to take care of, too. When my second son was about 2 months old, I was fixing my toddler his lunch. Son #2 woke up from his nap. I couldn’t get to him right away but was walking to his room by the 3- or 4-minute mark. My hand was on the doorknob and he went back to sleep!! I would have disturbed his nap had I been in there any sooner. Of course, at 2 AM, 3 or 4 minutes feels more like 30, but just keep it in mind and look at the clock.

Is Your Baby Done Sleeping?

When my eldest son woke up from his nap crying, it usually meant he was not done sleeping. (Whether he went back to sleep or not was hit or miss.) So, if he did wake up crying, I knew whether to run in there or not. At the very least, I tried to give him 5 minutes to try to fall back to sleep.

Having said that, I also worked with a mom whose baby, 90% of the time, woke up crying. That’s just how he came out of his sleep cycles. Therefore, it didn’t have the same meaning for her.

In my experience with most families, a baby waking up crying typically means they need more sleep.

Babies do outgrow crying upon waking, and it happens a lot less after you have done sleep training. Through sleep training, your baby can learn to seamlessly go into their next sleep cycle, so after they are truly done sleeping, most babies will wake up happy and cooing.

Does Your Baby Wake Up Crying? If so, here are some resources:

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