5 Reasons a Baby Wakes Up Crying Hysterically at Night


That gorgeous dress you saw at the store around the corner is just within your arm’s reach, or that sundae you devoured the previous night is being brought to you by the waiter, OR everyone is applauding the presentation you slaved over at work.

All of a sudden, a shrill, high-pitched sound wrenches away those flimsy dreams and your eyelids fight your nerve impulses to remain closed, like they try and fight your alarm clock.

However, the apple of your eye, your precious snickerdoodle wrapped in a baby fragrance is bawling. If you find that your baby wakes up crying hysterically, what do you do?

You love your kid, but why must he cry when you’re trying to sleep after three sleepless nights?! Or, can he be feeling sick?

You probably ask these questions in a far milder fashion than I just did, but I understand your exasperation.

So, I am here to explore the reasons as to why a baby wakes up crying hysterically at night

#1 – Physical discomforts

Babies are a lot like puppies – they love to cry for everything. (well at least it’s better than the rebellious phase where the urge to talk back is always present, hello puberty!)

The primary reason could be myriad forms of physical discomfort:

  • Temperature too hot or too cold (if plants can have green houses, your baby deserves the ideal temperature)
  • Eating or drinking too much or too little (you grumble about it too, maybe the mashed veggies were extra delicious that night!)
  • Nappy is too wet and itchy; this sometimes happens only during the night. (For this one of you can hold the baby like Rafiki held Simba in Pride Rock and see if Sniffling Simba feels better with the nappy off)
  • Being in the same position for too long which causes stiffness (rolling over is an extremely onerous affair)
  • Being too tired (looking cute can be exhausting, you have no idea.)
  • Not being tired enough (Whoops! I slept all day.) For this, make sure the child plays and does enough activity to remain asleep at night. Routine is key, and once internalized runs smoothly (Pavlov could tell you more about this.)

#2 – Emotional and psychological discomforts

It’s a scary world out there, even for the little guy who has mastered the art of saying “Mama!” and “Vroom!”.

Sometimes your baby cries just because the poor pumpkin is feeling scared or lonely and wants a little bit of attention.

You can also read : What to Do if Your Baby Wakes Up Every Hour at Night?

Even nightmares can be very bothersome for babies and lead them to tears, especially when they wake up to find themselves alone.

Rubbing the forehead between the eyebrows normally helps calm the baby down from emotional disturbances (remember how quickly that head massage at the spa day put you to sleep? I thought so.)

#3 – The Scary causes: (not actually scary, but you probably will panic the minute you see them.)

Disorder and diseases can have an exacerbated impact at night and since the baby can explain this in no other way, he/she howls.

The reasons why your baby wakes up crying hysterically at night include, but are not limited to:

  • Indigestion owing to food stagnation: You can distinguish it by an irritable cry that is not very loud, closer to a wail than a waterworks parade. The often toss and turn in their and perspire heavily too. (Heavy by baby standards, of course)
  • Stomach pain (more fancily called a liver-spleen disorder): the distinguishing feature of this disorder that begins suddenly with sharp cries. (It’s a lot like bird-watching, every call means something, as you can see) The child is usually seen curling up, in order to relieve any abdominal pain.
  • Blocked nose and sinus: a common cold can leave not-so-common repercussions for your baby. If there is mucous congestion that will be made more apparent by the phlegm in their cries, that’s when you know what’s bothering your biscuit.

None of these causes are cause for fear and worries, medical care when detected will relieve your child, and soon baby dearest will be back to her beauty sleep.

#4 – Night terrors (they will terrorise you forever, but your baby will not remember the next day)

Night terrors are sleep disturbances that are different from nightmares.

It may cause your little one to sit up in bed and thrash and cry with their eyes open, but in reality, they cannot see you. They will be more hysterical in a lot of cases if you try to touch them.

During night terrors, your baby is somewhere between asleep and awake (a dusk of sorts). This will terrify you, but unlike a nightmare, your child will not remember the next day.

There are no definitive causes of night terrors, which probably makes them scarier: but sleep deprivation and fever increases their probability of occurrence.

In case your baby is in the midst of a night terror, (they may last as long as half an hour), it will be hard, but it is best not to wake the child up.

#5 – For some extra loving (on a happier note)

Before the cogs in your head produce the most horrific of circumstances that spiral into paranoia, sometimes your baby wakes up screaming uncontrollably simply because they want to play with you (any time is playtime after all.)

Spending time with your child at odd hours of the night should not be made a habit, but can also provide for some lovely memories (when else is your little star going to greet the moon?)

So as you can see, there can be a number of reasons why a newborn or a baby wakes up crying hysterically.

However, you and I both know it’s all part and parcel of growing up, and if it’s nappy change time, you did it the last time, so the other person has to go.

And if you happen to be the only one, you know who the baby will love the most with their heart! Sweet dreams to you and your little squishable cinnamon roll!


  1. Honestly this was SUPER annoying to read! Could do without all the metaphors and attempts at dry humor.. Im trying to figure out why my child is behaving the way she is and I can’t get through a single sentence without running into a jokie joke.. Cmon now! I understand it makes for a more interesting read but there’s a time and place..

  2. Thank you so much to the individuals that wrote this article! This article has helped remind me of techniques and giving me new ideas to help my baby thank you so much!

  3. This article was perfect when I felt like giving up when baba was crying it gave me a new lease of life and a reason to smile, I loved that it was jokey and made me feel better as I am not the only mumma experiencing this. Also if your child is that bad, I would take them to the doctor xx

  4. Very helpful my baby woke up after being asleep for only 10 to 15 minutes asleep.
    Screaming and crying historically for no apparent reason, I calmed her and gave her calpol in case she was in any pain she’s 4 months old today god bless her it really frightened me how historically she was crying she had a cold runny nose no temperature feels normal to the touch can any one explain in more detail what’s the reason for this and great article by the way very calming

    • Hi Margaret,
      I’m suspecting three reasons (but keep in mind that I’m not a doctor):
      1) I don’t think it is anything to worry about, as long as the child can be calmed down quickly. A lot of times he just needs to burp.
      2) If you gave her a pain medication and she didn’t do it again, I’d imagine it’s pain likely from teething.
      3) If it happens again, it could be an ear infection. Nothing makes a kid scream bloody murder like an ear infection.


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