image001 Babies are mostly sound sleepers, with no distraction, noise and tension to prevent them from falling to restful sleep. But if your baby often wakes up at night screaming, it can be a sign of sleep deprivation, sleep walking or nightmares.

Baby Wakes Up Screaming—Is It Normal?

Babies can wake up during night around 3 to 4 times, depending on their age and feeding habits, but waking up while screaming is an issue parents should not take lightly. Nightmares or bad dreams are usually a sign of deep psychological problems that should be recognized and dealt with as soon as possible. According to a latest survey, 1% to 6% children may have night terrors and wake up screaming. Also, it has been mostly observed that boys are at higher risk of experiencing night terrors for unknown reasons. According to a survey, around 40% of children will experience one nightmare before they reach the age of 6 and if one family member has a positive history of night terrors, other family members are at significant risk of experiencing it as well.

Baby Wakes Up Screaming, Why?




Nightmares and night terrors are something parents often get confused between. Night terrors are just extremely disturbing or scary thoughts that may disturb a child from normal sleep, but do not wake them up. Night terrors usually occur between the first third of night and are forgotten once the child wakes up. Nightmares usually occur in the second half of sleep and result in the child waking up feeling terrified and screaming. Children are usually able to remember their dreams and may feel disturbed for some days followed by the nightmare.


Whenever a child feels hungry, his body becomes restless and his mind starts to become active instead of relaxing, this can result in child waking up disturbed. Try and set an eating pattern for the child so that he sleeps comfortably and remains undisturbed throughout his sleeping period.


Since children are unable to resolve their issues as adults, distressing stimuli such as pain can result in them waking up suddenly. If the child has consumed untraditional food such as raw meat or dairy (in case of lactose intolerance), flatulence and stomach pain are commonly experienced symptoms that may trigger night terrors. This can result in baby waking up screaming and extremely disturbed.


Sometimes all it takes for children to be scared is darkness and silence. Even if they do sleep, they are likely to wake up suddenly feeling scared at some hour of the night.


When a child starts sleeping in a separate room, he may initially feel anxious since he is no longer closer to his parents, he may feel as if he won’t see you again resulting in agitation and inability to sleep properly.


Sometimes children are not asleep at all; they may go through a period where they remain wakeful for long hours.

Feeling cold

A breast feeding child is very likely to feel cold even with slight drops in temperature. In this case it is best to feed the child to restore energy and warmth.

Dirty diaper

With bowel movements or after urinating in the diaper, your baby may feel restless and uncomfortable. As long as you notice, clean him up. This is because the uncomfortable feeling may cause rash and irritation to him

Baby Wakes Up Screaming, How to Soothe? 

When a baby wakes up screaming, scared and frightened, it is important to:

  • Calm your baby down. Be there for your child whenever he has a nightmare, reassure to him that you are there to protect him and that he has nothing to worry about. This will induce a sense of security in your child and help him combat his fears.
  • Clear it out. After a bad dream, let your child know that it was unreal. Tell him that it’s over and keep repeating reassuring words such as “it was only a dream” for him to gain strength and gain composure with reality.
  • Listen. If your child is talking non-stop about something he saw in his dreams, do not ignore it. Give him all your attention and let him know that you are there for him. If not in the night, encourage your child to talk about it in the morning because daylight has the effect of making everything less scary. Also try and associate the images he finds scary with weak and “defeat able” things, this will give your child confidence to fight with nightmares and a strong mind setup.
  • Light. Using a low intensity, dim light at night can help your child feel safer, just like in day light. It keeps away any images of shadows or voices your child might hear. Also if he wakes up after a bad dream, a room filled with light is better and more soothing than a dark one.
  • Comfort. When children have their nightmares or have a series of bad dreams, the best thing to do is comfort them. Read them a story and offer them more love and support to get over the bad dreams. Try to identify the factors that may have caused the night terrors/ nightmares such as any recent history of bad events or a drastic change in environment. Use counseling tools according to the situation. These constant assurances will go a long way in strengthening their minds and will keep them from distractions.
  • Off to sleep again. It is better to try and encourage the child to sleep again instead of staying awake in the disturbed state of mind he probably is in. Sleeping helps in two ways-his mind will relax and having spoken to you before re-sleeping will reassure to him that you will be there for him. Use soft music, a very positive bed time story and some dim light to help your child in sleeping with pleasant thoughts circling his brain.
  • Consult a doctor. If your concern still persists, it is always a better option to get professional help.

For more help, watch the following video:

Baby Wakes Up Screaming, How to Prevent It?

To help your little ones from waking up being scared the most important thing to do is strengthening his mind against bad thoughts and things he finds scary. Make sure your child does not read or view scary images before going to sleep, these things definitely influence the dreams they see.

Use props such as magic flash light and tell them they can “evil” and “darkness” with the help of these props. Let them know that their fears are defeatable and reassure them that they are strong and capable.

For children it is only a matter of time before they start finding bad monsters and shadows a ridiculous thing to be scared of, but if they are taught to control their fears and thoughts at a very young age, it will help them a long way in life.