Why babies wake up crying

Babies wake up during the night for all kinds of reasons, most of them totally typical and not serious. Babies under 6 or 9 months of age usually have physical needs, like hunger or teething, while babies over 9 months are more prone to developmental disruptions, like separation anxiety. Here are some of the most common reasons babies might wake at night:

  • hunger
  • gas
  • teething
  • uncomfortable environment
  • sickness
  • separation anxiety
  • sleep regressions
  • growth spurts
  • nightmares or night terrors 

In this recent article on Healthline.com, Natasha Bhagwandin Ahmed, MDPediatrician at ARC Sendero Springs talks about these reasons, and what you can do about them. Here are a few of her comments:

Hunger

If your baby is under 4 months old, the biggest reason for middle-of-the-night wake ups is hunger, says Dr. Ahmed.

Eventually, your baby will drop some night feedings and go longer amounts of time in between. At this age, though, needing to be fed is probably the cause, especially if it’s been a few hours since their last feeding.

Teething

Between the ages of 4 and 6 months, says Dr. Ahmed, the start of teething is a common reason for nighttime waking.

Though teething pain can last for months, eventually your baby will learn how to cope. At this age, however, they’re going to be fairly distressed by that achy, itchy sensation in their mouth.

Separation anxiety

In older babies — around 9 months and up — waking up during the night begins to become more of a developmental issue than a physical one.

“From about 9 to 12 months, it’s [probably] separation anxiety,” says Dr. Ahmed. “It’s common for babies this age to wake up, realize Mom or Dad isn’t around, and lose it.”

Sleep regressions

There are several developmental stages when sleep regressions are likely to occur. These include in months 4, 6, 8, 12, 18, and 24.

“If [your baby has] consistently been put to bed with a bottle or pacifier and wakes up to realize it’s not there anymore, they’ll start screaming,” says Dr. Ahmed.

When to speak with your pediatrician

Most of these issues are normal and will resolve without seeing a pediatrician. But, if your baby seems ill, isn’t eating or peeing normally, or has a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, Dr. Ahmed recommends seeing your physician.

Book an appointment today

If you would like to make an appointment with Dr. Ahmed, do so by calling ARC Sendero Springs at 737-220-7500 or make an appointment online.

Read the full article on Healthline.com to see more of Dr. Ahmed’s advice on how to soothe a baby crying at night.

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