Why Do Babies Cry in their Sleep?

Since babies cannot talk yet, crying is their only means of communication for the first few months of their life. Whenever they cry, adults are wired to respond. While soothing methods and responses vary, one thing is for sure. They rely on us for comfort, food, warmth, and safety.

However, when they started crying and screaming in distress at wee hours of the night while sleeping is something annoying for most of us. What could we do? Find out below.

What Could be the Reasons

There could be plenty of reasons why babies tend to become a night crier. The most common would be discomfort and hunger. However, according to some mommies, they believe that this is due to "growing pains" that occur sometimes.

Others believe that this is due to gas build up, constipation, clothes or too tight nappies, insect bites or just because they are dreaming. A lot of parents are wondering if babies are capable of having emotional traumas as well that they cry in their sleep.

Most probably, the reason for this is one of the following:


DIRTY DIAPER- just because the baby is creating any noise doesn't mean that they are to wake up. A baby can fuss momentarily due to wet or soiled diapers. Your newborn can be disturbed and starts to cry that can escalate quickly. Learn the basics of diaper wearing here.

I always check the diaper after that little cry... usually, he's peed. They have to wake up a tiny bit to pee



NIGHTMARE - like adults, babies have dreams and even nightmares. It usually relates to their processing and learning experiences of the day.

While we are not sure when does a child can have a nightmare, it can happen sooner than their sixth month and can occur during their active sleep. Thus, even a newborn can have a dream or a nightmare that will make them cry as they sleep.

I have heard that babies whose mothers were very anxious or depressed during pregnancy (especially untreated) tend to be fussier, but it sounds like your little one is doing just fine!
My son used to do this all the time. It started when he was three months, and it was pretty regular to hear him scream in the middle of his sleep. He didn't want any comfort and during the screaming would remain asleep.


NEEDS ATTENTION - experts call them high-need babies that want to be held most of the time. They need their parents to hold them all day long so they can feel secure and fulfillment. If not, they are ready to do the cry-it-out method even when sleeping.

Yup, Dylan does this too. Not very often but it's awful when it happens. Sometimes he just lets out a yell in his sleep, and before we can get up to check him, he's completely silent and fast asleep again.

Sometimes he is seriously sobbing (although he appears to be fast asleep) and I pick him up, comfort him and give him a cuddle in the rocking chair. Sometimes he stops crying as soon as I put him back down again.



NOT FEELING WELL - crying could be a sign that the baby is not feeling well or is having some pains. It could be due to their immunization and the accompanying fever and suffering, swelling, coughs and colds, insect bites, rashes or stomach ache.

If they are overtired, they are most likely find it hard to get a decent sleep. Hence, babies end up crying while sleeping.

My DS is only seven weeks old but does this sometimes too. He has recently been diagnosed with reflux, and I was told this could be a symptom of reflux (along with crying after hiccups and needing to be kept upright, etc.).



SOMETHING PAINFUL AND UNNOTICEABLE - there are instances that we just can't determine what is hurting our child or what could be wrong that makes them cry. Together with their developmental milestones, a baby has to endure having to brand new teeth.

This thing is unnoticeable but could bring them a lot of discomfort along with tender gums, diaper rashes due to the watery stool and more fussiness.

My little boy has woken with a shout or a scream a few times in the last week or so. Then today we noticed two teeth starting to cut through his bottom gum. He's 19 weeks. Reckon that's what it was."


My little one (1 wk old) is doing that too, and I think a lot of it is just poopies passing through the chutes, and like the pp's said, changing sleep cycles.


We are in the process of seeing if our lo has a milk sensitivity. The pediatrician does think she has silent reflux based on symptoms I've told her. We switched her to Alimentum to see if the symptoms she's having go away. It's only been six days so still waiting to look at how we think it's working out.

IF your baby did, in fact, have reflux did they just suddenly cry out to sleep on and off? My little girl does this, and I'm not 100% sure why but it doesn't seem right to the hubby or me.​

​She is a very happy baby isn't colicky at all. But she does squirm a lot when feeding her. I sorta dread feeding because they are always a struggle.


If, after all the advice and tips you've done, and the baby is still crying while sleeping, try soothing him or her. There's a modern technique called "The Hold" by Dr. Robert Hamilton that you can watch here

While those who saw it for the first time kind of freak out, Dr. Bob explains how this can calm and soothe a wailing baby. The usual methods such as quiet singing, patting bottoms, bouncing and pacing are somewhat losing their magic to infants.

Thus, the Hold Technique is gaining popularity these days as it tries to recreate the womb environment which is proven effective in calming them. Crossing the baby's arms and holding them restricts movement so they won't wiggle or startle that could cause them to wake up.

Pay Attention and Seek Help

There are just so many things that we can try to help our babies sleep soundly. And just like any other phases of life, this too shall pass. If you have more questions or similar problems, let us know in the comment section.

Remember these things:

  • Consult an expert like a pediatrician to make sure nothing is wrong with your baby if the crying-sleeping episodes get intense.
  • Understand their wake and sleep cycles to help you decide if they are sleep or ready to wake up.
  • Comfort them through their first 12 months since this is when they tend to be more sensitive.
Sabrina Lily

I am a mother who has a 2-year-old pretty baby boy and we are preparing for the arrival of a new angel. From pregnancy until the child is born and look at them grow up each day is a pleasant experience. The little angels are so adorable. Taking care of and look children healthy is the most wonderful thing. Through this website, I want to share the experience of motherhood’s life for those who are a mama.

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