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Why Does My Baby Wake Up Screaming From Naps

Baby Health / Nov 02, 2023 / Vetted by Team BabyG
Why Does My Baby Wake Up Screaming From Naps

If you look through a parent's search list, the question of why their baby is crying would be near the top. It's a constant chase of trying to determine whether our baby is hungry, distressed, sick, or just needs a nappy change. If you have noticed a pattern of crying every time you wake your little one from their sleep, it is natural that you are looking for answers. Read on to understand why your baby wakes up screaming from naps.

Reasons why babies wake up screaming from naps

Babies tend to cry when they are unable to communicate their distress, especially when they haven't learned to speak yet. Skim through a few of the explanations for why your baby must be crying while waking up from his or her nap:

Discomfort: Babies can often get distressed by a mix of environmental factors, like the room being overly hot or cold, their diaper needing a change, or the swaddle being too tight. Discomfort due to reflux, colic, or gas could be another driving cause for the same.

Hunger: This is often the most predicted reason by parents, and why not? Infants feed about 8–12 times a day, which decreases by age as solids get introduced. Keeping track of your baby's feeds and never missing the schedule may help you curb this reason. 

Separation Anxiety: Babies most often look for their immediate caregivers when they wake up as a way to seek comfort. Your absence may trigger dread in them, leading to them bawling before you get there.

Fatigue: When babies are overtired, they might overproduce the hormone cortisol; which might result in poor-quality sleep. This can also manifest in other ways, like short, unfulfilling naps, crying, several night wakeups,etc.

Illness: One of the first warning indications in the case of sick babies is persistent crying. You can look for signs of a cold, fever, teething, or other ailments during your check. Make sure to contact your healthcare professional for advice in case the symptoms persist.

Sleep Regression: For parents that might be alarmed by the sudden change in their little ones sleep patterns, sleep regression might be the reason for it. Most kids go through this at about 4 months of age, and it might last for at least 2 to 6 weeks.

Since every child is different from the rest, it is highly probable that your baby's reason for waking up screaming from naps may not be restricted to just these. Sometimes it could just be due to growth spurts, nightmares, or the fact that you suddenly left the light on in an otherwise cozy room.

What To Do if my Baby Wakes Up Screaming from Naps

There is no one-stop answer to this question, but rather a list of methods that you can employ to curb the crying. We like to think that once you are certain of the reason, remedying the problem gets much easier. So, here are a few things to do if your baby wakes up screaming from naps:

  • The first thing you could do is take a deep breath and calm yourself down before going in. Children easily detect stress in their parents, which tends to aggravate them further. Take a moment to yourself before you comfort them.
  • Next, tend to their basic needs. This could be feeding them if they seem to be hungry, changing their diaper, or checking for other signs of discomfort that need to be addressed.
  • Sometimes your child just wants to be comforted and soothed by you. Try holding them close for a few minutes to settle them.
  • If you sense that your baby is still tired after their nap, you can help them self-soothe with a pacifier or caress them back to sleep.
In the case of older babies, you might want to start setting better bedtime routines for them to get accustomed to a schedule and follow a healthy sleep cycle. Tracking your child's feeding and sleep patterns on BabyG will help you gain a better understanding of their sleep patterns. You can then discuss with their pediatrician for further advice on ensuring better sleep quality for your young one.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is my baby suddenly screaming when he wakes up?

There could be several reasons behind your baby screaming when he wakes up. Some of them could include hunger, distress, overtiredness and so on.

2. How long should I let my baby cry it out for naps?

For babies 4-6 months older, you can try to let them cry it out for about 3–10 minutes on the first night and continuously increase it every night to practice progressive waiting. Make it a point to do this only once you are sure all their basic needs have been addressed.


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