Why Does My Baby Wake Up Crying?
Why does my baby constantly wake up crying, grumpy and mad at the world? If your little one wakes up crying in the middle of the night, or wakes up from nap time in hysteria, research shows there is probably a reason for this. I have four kids. Three of them loved bedtime, naps, all of it. My 4th… oh the struggles!! Nights were unbelievably frustrating. I never relaxed during naps, knowing it was just a matter of time before the beast awakened. I played Jaws theme music in my head as soon as I heard any movement.
At 7 months, babies are meant to sleep 12 to 16 hours per day which includes a 9 to 12 hour stretch in the night. For many parents, this is far from reality. There are three reasons your days and nights may be filled with exhaustion from a non-rested baby. These are sleep inertia, anxiety, discomfort or a combination of these.
As an adult, you know that sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night feeling wide awake, but other times you feel groggy, disoriented, and out of sorts. When you wake up groggy, you are experiencing sleep inertia. Sleep inertia happens when you suddenly wake up during REM sleep. During REM sleep, your melatonin level is high.
When melatonin levels are low upon waking, you will feel sharp and well-rested. It is a process for your melatonin levels to drop. You need to get to the stage of non-REM sleep to wake up properly. HERE is more extensive information on melatonin and how it works.
Sleep inertia happens to infants as well. If your baby wakes up during REM sleep in the middle of the night, this is extra upsetting. Then it can make it even harder to get them back to sleep. During nap time, if they wake up during REM, then they can cry for 30 minutes or longer while melatonin returns to a lower level.
The effects of sleep inertia in infants presents itself when babies are constantly yawning, rubbing their eyes and staring blankly during their awake time. They will be quite irritable as well. The best thing that can help babies that don’t get a good night’s sleep is for them to get a good nap. But don’t allow them to nap too long or else they will have even a lesser chance of sleeping through the night again. Then the cycle may happen all over again.
One of the biggest causes for infants ages 8 to 12 months not sleeping through the night is due to anxiety. Especially separation anxiety. This was the culprit for my 4th child. Babies are more aware of their surroundings and become very uncertain when their parents or caregivers are out of their sight. They have no concept of time. They have a hard time understanding that when parents leave, they will come back. A lot of parents find reduction in anxiety when swaddling at infant age and sleep sacs when they outgrow swaddles. Also, being consistent and not “rescuing them” when they wake up crying. This can create a bad habit that is hard to break. A lot of pediatricians recommend waiting for a few minutes to see if the baby will soothe themselves. If not, then go to the crib and give a few pats for reassurance and then leave. Repeat as needed. Do not take your baby out of the crib. This really is SO HARD for some parents. Just ask my husband haha.
When babies wake up and don’t see their parents, they can become very anxious. This will not happen to co-sleeping because they see that parents are right there. However, parents who co-sleep with their babies and make the switch to a toddler bed in a separate room, will probably have an extra hard time.
There are many reasons why infants wake up from being uncomfortable. One of the biggest reasons is teething. Teething pain can wake up your baby and prevent them from going back to sleep. Try a natural approach to teething pain while they sleep. Use an amber teething anklet or wrap a teething necklace twice around their ankles and then put them in footy pajamas to keep it in place and prevent them from messing with it. Amber contains succinic acid. Succinic acid is used in many medications to reduce inflammation and reduce pain. Medication is not needed to get them benefits from succinic acid. When amber is worn against the skin, the succinic acid is absorbed into the bloodstream, reducing teething symptoms naturally. HERE are some my favorite teething anklets/bracelets.
Another common cause for infants to be up in the night is when they are sick. Try diffusing essential oils for common ailments like congestion. Make sure to do proper research on which oils to use and the amounts.
Eventually your baby will get to a point where they will sleep through the night more often than they don’t. This means YOU will finally get more sleep as well. Understanding the 3 main causes for your baby’s nighttime and nap-time tears can help you either find a solution, or at least be aware of the science behind what is going on. Sometimes just knowing why things are happening helps you be able to get through tough times!