6 Common Reasons Why Babies Cry When They Wake Up From Sleep

Babies not being able to settle down at bed time and sleep well through the night is one of the many concerns parents have, as it makes their baby almost always wake up crying. Broadly speaking, there are six common reasons why babies cry when they wake up from sleep.

Knowing them and applying the right solutions for each of them takes little effort, and can help you address the situation easily.

Most of all, it will help your little one to sleep better through the night, and if you are a mother to a newborn, it will help you deal with postpartum sleep deprivation effectively.

Let’s have a look at the 6 common reasons why babies cry when they wake up from sleep.

1. Feeling Hungry

You may have established a routine and a pattern for eating for your little one. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that she won’t wake up crying, as she may feel hungry.

While there is no denying that crying is indeed a sign of hunger, it is important to note that crying is in fact only a late sign of hunger.

In other words, even before she started crying, she must have already been hungry (but she wasn’t crying then). But now, she’s not just hungry but very hungry, and frustrated too; which is why she is crying as she woke up from sleep.

Solution: In case you have just weaned (started giving and accustomed her to food other than breastfed milk) her from night feedings, make sure you remember to feed her extra during the day.

2. Feeling Lonely or Fearful

In case your baby wakes up screaming yet with her eyes closed, it is probably likely that she may have experienced night terrors.

Night terrors usually happen when your baby is in deep sleep, which can make your little one to cry with sudden screaming sometimes. Interestingly however, your baby won’t remember the commotion she created when she wakes up.

Solution: The age-old prescription of loving care, attention, gentle talk and warm hugs is all it takes to calm down your child from the emotional disturbance.

3. Separation Anxiety

The thought that her parents may not be close to her can be a frightening for a baby. For that matter, waking up abruptly at night and not having even a caregiver may instil fear and anxiety in her.

This is due to what is called Separation Anxiety, a common and normal part of the emotional development process which can affect her sleep. It usually starts somewhere between 6 – 10 months.

Solution: Just give her time to settle down and she will be okay. Just play a game like peek-a-boo with her. Better still, appear in from of her doing the peek-a-boo as if you are continuing playing with her from where you left off before she went to sleep.

Also, try to have a consistent calming routine when she wakes up crying, as children find it easy to get ritualised to specific situations.

4. Physical Discomfort

This is one thing many parents could miss by oversight. Be conscious about the temperature in her room and make sure it’s comfortable for her. May be she is crying because her nappy is wet or she’s been lying in the same posture for too long, which is causing her stiffness and pain.

Solution: Periodically rolling your baby over, very gently, or changing her sleeping position is all it takes to ease her discomfort. Check nappies regularly. Small things make a huge difference from her perspective.

5. Common Illness

Now-and-then, your little one can experience some rough spells, be it in the form of teething or plausible infections, which are normal.

Sometimes, she may cry because of indigestion or stomach ache. Pain in her ear or throat, and even fever can also be among some of the other causes which can completely upset her sleep.

Solution: Most of these causes will not be of serious concern. By providing the right treatment and care, she can be easily treated well and help recover within 2 or 3 days.

6. Is Still Tired

The most common reason, by far, why babies cry when they wake up from sleep is may be because they’re tired. It’s that simple.

The very fact that this is the most common reason why babies wake up crying, is possibly why it is also the most taken-for-granted and overlooked one, especially by first-time parents.

When your baby acts fussy and cranky, it is a clear indication that her nap time was not enough and she needs more sleep.

Solution: This is where a parent’s skill of consolidating the baby’s nap by seamlessly transitioning the baby from one sleep cycle to the other becomes crucial.

Do what it takes to get comfortable to seamlessly get her back to sleep. It takes skill and practice, but it won’t be too hard to learn and apply.


Just like how every baby is special in his or her own way, every baby is also different in his or her own way. Commit yourself to take efforts and find out why babies cry when they wake up from sleep.

Test the solutions discussed above. Better still, research for more solutions or even make your own solutions tapping your creative side (other than medical situations, of course) and find out which one works best for her and you.

Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.