Skip Nav

Why Your Baby Wakes Up Crying

Why Your Baby Wakes Up Crying

My son Olin is three years old now, but a question posed by a Circle of Moms member named Anna has transported me back to his early days, when the fact that he always woke up crying unsettled me. Anna, whose baby often wakes up crying, and who is worried about whether this is unusual, asks, "Does your [baby wake up happy]?"

Olin never woke cooing or laughing either. Instead, he was always screaming, often with tears streaming down his face. I would panic. Had he had a nightmare...again? Was he in pain? It was a mystery. He never cried when he was wet, and I fed him so often he hardly ever cried out of hunger. But he always cried when he woke up — whether from a nap or in the morning.

"Stormy" or Just Not a Morning Person?

Come to think of it, he still does! Over time, I learned to trust that this didn't mean he was unhappy, just that he needed time to transition from sleep to waking.

When he went to pre-school, his teacher told me he was "stormy." She said the storm passed as soon as he'd adjusted to being awake. Some babies, she said, need more time to wake up than others. And many Circle of Moms members agree that it's that simple.

Sharon's four-year-old son, for instance, always woke crying as a baby and often still does, while her daughter wakes happy almost all the time. She attributes this to their different temperaments and doesn't read anything more than that into it. Melissa's 11-month-old daughter cries when she wakes unless she's in her mother's arms. That makes a kind of logical sense; some psychologists believe abandonment fears start very young. But that doesn't explain why some waking babies cry even when their parents are holding them, as is the case with many.


Waking Too Soon

Crystal's kids are always cranky when they wake up — and she's certain that it's because they always wake up too early. She tries to get them to fall back asleep, which often helps. They are then slow to wake up, but Crystal figures this is better than too little sleep overall.

Same goes for my boy. Now, when Olin wakes too early at 6am, he tells me, "I'm sleepy." Getting him back down is a big challenge, as he wants to get up and play, no matter what the hour. When I can get him back down, we all have a saner day. And no matter how loud or slow the transition time is, he's a happy kid throughout the rest of the day — rarely a tantrum, and non-stop singing, jumping, skipping and playing.

So, don't worry that morning grouchiness means your baby isn't happy. Just make sure he gets enough sleep — and his true nature will prevail!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Latest Family