Soothing Crying Babies In Their Sleep


What many parents do not know until they have unintentionally woken their babies, is that babies can cry in their sleep. It is a normal part of development, but it does not make loud screaming any less unnerving for parents. This is because most often, the root of the problem can be determined when soothing babies who are awake and crying. When they are asleep, parents are left wondering what the cause of the crying is and what they can do to soothe their babies crying in their sleep.

Soothing sleeping babies can take some time to learn to do. The biggest hurdle is recognizing when babies are still sleeping. This is important because much of the time, babies may have just completed a sleep cycle and are transitioning into a new one. And if this is the case, it may be just a momentary wake-up where babies can put themselves to sleep. But for those babies who continue on longer than a few moments, soothing them will be necessary so that they do not wake themselves up as a result of their sleep crying.

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Here is how to soothe babies crying in their sleep.

Why Babies Cry In Their Sleep

via Pexels/Laura Garcia

When babies cry, they are using their cries to communicate a need. It can be hunger, emotional or physical discomfort, or just simply need to be soothed. The same reasons are present when babies cry in their sleep. It is just not as obvious as to what the culprit is behind why the crying is occurring.

According to NCT, other reasons that babies cry in their sleep include:

  • Babies are in a stage of light sleep
  • Babies are making sense of memories
  • Brain development

It is also thought, according to that babies cry in their sleep because of night terrors. This is because babies are beginning to remember what happens during their days along with developing their imaginations. The combination of the two can lead to night terrors.

Ways To Soothe Babies Crying In Their Sleep

If babies are still truly asleep when they cry, some may fall back asleep without any assistance. Because of this, parents should wait a few moments to see if this is the case before rushing into the room. But for those who have yet to wake but are unable to settle on their own, there are steps parents can take to make their babies feel more assured.

According to Parenting FirstCry, some ways to help babies settle when they are crying in their sleep include:

  • Swaddle: If babies are no longer swaddled, they may cry out. A simple re-swaddling may soothe babies and keep them asleep.
  • Check the temperature: The temperature in babies’ rooms should be between 68 and 72 F to ensure babies have a comfortable slumber.
  • White noise: Turn on white noise or slightly raise the volume if it is already on.
  • Stroke babies’ skin: Reassurance that parents are there with a light touch may keep babies asleep.
  • Singing: The room may simply be too quiet. Therefore, singing can help to soothe sleeping babies.
  • Take babies out of the crib: If nothing seems to be working while babies are still in the crib, they may need to be physically picked up. When this is done, rocking or even breastfeeding may keep babies in a state of sleep and able to be put back down to dream longer.

Crying while sleeping may be caused by different reasons. As such, what works one time may not work the next. The key is to be patient and keep trying in order to keep sleeping babies sleeping.

Baby Sleep Patterns

pexels-rodnae-productions-6849539 (1)
via Pexels/RODNAE Productions

Babies’ sleep patterns are quite different from that of adults. And because of this, there is more opportunity for babies to cry out at night when they are not awake.

According to the Sleep Foundation, when it comes to newborns, they only have two sleep stages. In comparison, those over three months old and adults have four separate sleep stages.

Per the publication, newborns have the REM and NREM stages of sleep. During this age, babies will spend most of their time in the REM stage while sleeping, which allows them to make small movements and sounds. The NREM stage is when babies are still. Therefore, given this information, it is not surprising to see why newborns may cry out quite frequently in their sleep.

After three months of age, according to the Sleep Foundation, there are four stages of sleep that babies go through that adults experience. They are NREM 1, NREM 2, NREM 3, and REM.

For adults, it takes about 90 minutes for them to reach REM. However, babies take about half that time. Therefore, while it may be a longer period, babies at any age have the potential to cry while still asleep.

When A Doctor May Need To Be Called

Babies crying in their sleep is generally nothing for parents to be concerned with. Most will settle themselves or can easily be soothed by parents to get the necessary sleep.

However, whenever parents have questions about what their babies are experiencing, if something seems amiss, or if parents have tried everything in their parental tool belt to soothe their babies to no avail, a healthcare professional should be contacted. This way any health issues can be ruled out and parents can rest easily knowing their babies are healthy and thriving.

Source: NCT,, Parenting FirstCry, Sleep Foundation

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