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Article: Why Do Babies Cry In Their Sleep?

Why Do Babies Cry In Their Sleep?

Why Do Babies Cry In Their Sleep?

Have you ever thought about why your baby cries in his sleep? It is common and often confuses and worries parents. 

But don’t worry, crying during sleep is normal in a baby's development and usually resolves on its own as it gets older. Understanding factors why babies cry in their sleep can help parents get to know their little ones better and give comfort to them during their restless nights.

Why does my baby cry in his/her sleep?

Here are some reasons why babies cry in their sleep:

Immature nervous system: 

Your baby's nervous system is still developing, which means they may have involuntary movements and reactions during sleep, including crying. This is a natural part of development and will decrease as they get older and their nervous system matures.

Environmental factors: 

Changes in the environment can disrupt your baby's sleep and cause crying. This may include sudden noises, changes in room temperature, or uncomfortable bedding. Creating a quiet, stable sleep environment can help your baby sleep tight.


Babies have small stomachs and need to eat often, so if they don't have enough to eat before bedtime, they may wake up crying from hunger. Making sure your baby is fed before bedtime will help avoid crying at night due to hunger.

Developmental milestones: 

As your baby grows and develops, they may experience new emotions that can disrupt sleep and cause crying. This may include reaching some milestones such as rolling over, sitting up, or teething, which can cause discomfort and disrupt their sleep patterns.

Physical discomfort: 

Babies may cry in their sleep due to physical discomfort (such as flatulence, reflux, or teething pain). These discomforts can cause them to cry, even if they are still asleep. Taking comfort techniques such as gentle massage or giving them a soother can help them return to sleep.

Separation anxiety:

Separation anxiety can affect your baby's crying in sleep. When babies experience separation anxiety, they may become more sensitive to being away from their parents, even during sleep. This may cause them to cry more often during the night as they seek comfort and reassurance. When babies feel their parents are not around, babies may cry and search for them, leading to disturbed sleep patterns. 


Do babies have nightmares? Yes. Nightmares can affect a baby's sleep crying. When babies have nightmares, they may cry harder or longer in their sleep. It's like when you wake up crying after being scared by something. If your baby has nightmares, they may also seem more irritable or restless in their sleep. When your baby wakes up crying from a nightmare, parents need to comfort them and reassure them that they are safe. Nightmares are a normal part of sleep and will gradually decrease as your baby grows.

What can I do if my baby has night terrors?

Sleep regression:

During sleep regression, your baby may cry more often or wake up frequently during the night. It's as if they have a hard time falling asleep peacefully. This may lead to more crying during the night as they struggle to return to their normal sleep pattern. Parents may notice that their baby becomes more irritable or irritable during the day, which is likely due to disrupted sleep at night. Sleep regression is common at certain developmental stages and usually resolves itself after a few weeks.

Sleep cycles:

Babies, like adults, go through different stages of sleep throughout the night, including light and deep sleep. As your baby transitions between these sleep stages, they may wake up briefly or cry. This is similar to how you would toss and turn before falling into deep sleep. These cries don't always mean that your baby is fully awake; sometimes, it's just part of their natural sleep cycle. Parents may notice that their baby cries more frequently during the lighter stages of sleep, especially during the first few months when the sleep cycle is shorter. As babies get older, their sleep cycles usually become more organized and they cry less frequently at night.

Startle reflex:

When babies experience sudden noise or movement, they may have a startle reflex, causing them to move their arms and legs and sometimes cry. It's like being woken up by a loud noise. This reflex is most noticeable in the first few months of a baby’s life, but it gradually disappears with age. Babies cry in their sleep if they are startled by a sudden sound or movement, but usually, they quiet down after a short period of discomfort.


When babies are overtired, they may have trouble falling or staying asleep. It's like you're so tired that you feel exhausted and restless instead of trying to sleep. This can cause your baby to cry more often and harder during sleep as they struggle to quiet themselves down. Overtired babies also have shorter sleep cycles and wake up more often throughout the night. Parents need to help their baby establish a consistent sleep routine and making sure they get enough rest during the day can help prevent overtiredness and reduce nighttime crying.

How to soothe your baby when they cry in their sleep?

Below are some tips for calming a crying baby during sleep:

Check basic, comfortable needs:

The basic tip is to check that your baby's comfortable needs are being met. This includes making sure they are not hungry, their diaper is clean, and they are not cold or hot. Sometimes meeting these basic needs can quickly calm a crying baby back to sleep.

Gentle touch or cuddling: 

Babies usually find comfort in physical contact. Parents can try gently patting or rubbing their baby's back or gently stroking their hair. Some babies also find comfort in being held or cradled on their chests.

Provide a pacifier: 

Pacifiers can have a calming effect by being sucked by babies. The sucking action can calm many babies and help them fall asleep. However, it is important to make sure that the pacifier is clean and appropriate for your baby's age.

Create a quiet environment: 

Dimming the lights and minimizing noise in your baby's sleep environment can promote relaxation and help them sleep soundly. A white noise machine or soft lullaby can also create a soothing feeling that promotes babies to sleep.

Establish a bedtime routine: 

Establishing a consistent bedtime routine can remind to your baby that it's time to relax and get ready for bed. This routine may include some activities such as giving your baby a warm bath, reading a book, or gently rocking him before putting him in his crib.

Use gentle rocking: 

Some babies can be soothed by gentle movements. Parents can try gently rocking or swaying the baby in their arms, or using a baby swing or bassinet to help the baby fall asleep.

Try swaddling or sleep sacks

Swaddling is wrapping your baby tightly in a blanket to mimic the feeling of being in the womb. This helps soothe some babies and prevents them from waking up with a startle reflex. Sleep sacks also can give babies a safe and cozy feeling which is good for them to sleep.

By trying these soothing techniques, parents can make their baby feel comfortable and secure, which can lead to a smoother return to sleep.


In conclusion, there are many reasons why babies cry in their sleep, including normal developmental processes such as sleep cycles and startle reflexes. In addition, factors such as nightmares, sleep regression, and over-tiredness also can cause babies to cry at night. Understanding these factors can help parents respond effectively to their baby's crying and provide the necessary comfort and support. By using these soothing techniques, parents can help their baby feel more secure and promote quality sleep for the entire family.

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Yujia Shi

An expert in sleep sack design, is a valued contributor to Kaiya Baby's blog. With a strong background in baby sleep bags and maternal care, she is highly regarded for her professionalism. Yujia Shi prioritizes baby comfort and safety in her designs, using high-quality materials. Her insightful articles on sleep bags have been featured in reputable publications and have gained a significant readership. Trust Yujia Shi to help you create a comfortable and safe sleep environment for your baby, backed by her proven track record in the industry.

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