Is Your Baby Crying While Sleeping?

By Misty on in Baby Sleep Help with No Comments

Is Your Baby Crying While Sleeping?
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Many parents feel helpless when they see their baby crying while sleeping. You were able to put them to sleep gently and they appeared to be sleeping softly and soundly when you hear a whimper and a stir. You go to their bed and find that they are actually crying while sleeping. Like most parents this is very unsettling.

A number of thoughts cross your mind.

  • Are they hurting?
  • Are they in pain or discomfort?
  • Should you call your doctor or a nurse hotline?
  • Should you gently caress them?
  • Should you pick them up to comfort or will they then simply wake up?

All of these questions and probably more run through you mind as your baby lies crying in their sleep. For many parents this is a very difficult situation as you never want to see your baby hurting or troubled. Rest assured this is a situation more common than you may think so we want to take a moment to address your concerns and put your mind at ease if we can.

Baby’s Crying While Sleeping Can Be Normal

First off let me just tell you, most of the time is quite normal for babies to cry while sleeping. While this is very unsettling for you as conscientious parents, it is normally nothing to be concerned about. Pediatricians advise that babies between the ages of 4 and 12 months will commonly cry softly and for short periods of time while sleeping. Some babies simply out-grow the behavior whereas others may require changes to their routines.

Remember every precious little one is unique and it is best for you to evaluate this crying behavior along with their other behaviors during the day. Little babies are every so often difficult to read because they have not learned how to communicate with you and you are still learning to recognize their signs and signals.

Let us provide you with a few reasons why your baby is crying while sleeping and a few remedies.

Dirty Diaper

One of the easiest reasons to detect and to solve is to check their diaper. A wet or poopy diaper is not comfortable, it can irritate their skin and they may simply be asking that you change their diaper. The same may hold true if somehow the diaper or outer clothing has become twisted and is now causing them discomfort.


The younger the baby is the more frequently they will need to be fed as their little tummies can’t hold much yet. When your baby is whimpering and not fully awake they may be asking to be fed. So offer them some formula or milk (depending on their age) to see how they respond. These episodes may interrupt your sleep as well but your sweet baby is usually settled back to sleep quickly. Also don’t be dismayed if they continue to whimper a bit until their hunger is satisfied, they are simply talking to you in their own way.

Wanting to be Close

Your baby may be calling to you for attention, to be held, cuddled, or comforted. Very young babies frequently need the reassurance of physical contact and knowing that you are close. Try picking them up and swaddling them to soothe their gentle souls.

When your baby is around 4 – 6 months of age their wanting to be held can be attributed to your holding and soothing them to sleep during daytime napping and when putting them to sleep at night. You may inadvertently be training them to cry.

When your baby stirs at night they may have learned that the only way to get back to sleep is by your holding, rocking, or swaying them. While I would never discourage you from loving on your baby as much as you desire just be aware that too much of it could lead to your baby associating your attention and your comforting activities to sleep and not their own mattress or crib.

Interestingly, if there has been a recent change in their schedule or environment they may take to crying while sleeping even once your baby has learned to return to sleep on their own when awakened. Parents often bring their baby into their own beds when the baby has a cold in order to provide immediate comfort or they may change sleeping habits when travelling or when family and friends visit. When this happens, it may take a while for your baby to relearn how to put themselves back to sleep.

Being Too Hot or Cold

Babies may simply become too hot or cold as they sleep especially if the temperature in their room changes. Be careful not to bundle them up with too much clothing or too many blankets, they may look cozy but ultimately end up uncomfortable.

*Sweet Sleep Baby tip: when testing to see if your baby is too warm or cold, touch their little tummies not their hands or feet. Your baby’s hands and feet are often cold even when their tummies are quite warm.

Crying in sleep just like laughing or giggling in their sleep…it is simply how your little baby is trying to communicate with you. As a parent it is sometimes difficult to understand how to react and what action to take. Some babies have difficulty adapting to change, some need more cuddling and holding, and others may simply be more expressive.

If you feel that your baby is actually in pain or may be ill whenever they are crying in sleep, then please contact your child’s physician promptly. Otherwise these reasons and remedies should help put your mind at ease for understanding why your sweet bundle of joy may shed a few sleeping tears at night.

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