Taking care of a baby can be quite overwhelming, especially if you are a new parent with little to no experience in looking after newborns. If your baby wakes up crying from naps, and you do not know why this keeps happening, we have some answers for you.
Is this something that should worry you?
The simple answer to this question is no. Most babies tend to wake up from their naps crying. So, there is nothing to be worried about. You should know that there are numerous things that can influence how well your baby sleeps during nap time.
Even though this might sound like a paradox, it seems like babies who have a restless day and, consequently, they feel more tired than usual, tend to have problems falling asleep.
Now that we’ve got this straight, let’s look at the main reasons why babies might wake up inconsolable after a nap.
The baby is still tired
One of the most common causes why babies wake up crying after a nap is the fact that they are still tired. This is particularly true if the nap is too short and, consequently, the baby still needs its sleep.
To avoid this problem, it is recommended that you encourage your baby to take longer, more relaxing naps. For instance, if your baby wakes up after a short, 30 minutes nap, never assume that they are done sleeping. Instead, let them soothe themselves and fall asleep again. Chances are that they are not necessarily ready to get up.
Another thing that you can do is to make sure that the environment is suitable for naps. In other words, you should ensure that the room in which the baby naps is dark and quiet. It might also help to set up a nap routine that the baby can pick up on.
For example, you can change the baby’s diaper or you can read it a short story just before nap time. In time, your bundle of joy will understand that the routine signals that it is time for a nap, and, thus, it will fall asleep faster.
The baby is hungry
Another common reason why babies wake up upset after a nap is the fact that they are hungry. If the baby feels hungry while sleeping, there is a high chance that it will wake up and ask to be fed. So, if your baby wakes up crying, try to feed it and see if it goes back to sleep.
The simplest way in which you can avoid this is to feed the baby just before it takes a nap. You can incorporate this step in the nap time routine that we have spoken about before.
The diaper is dirty
Babies feel discomfort if they have to sleep while wearing a dirty, wet, or leaky diaper. As a result, they are likely to wake up if they are not entirely comfortable. When this happens, you should address the issue by changing the baby.
The baby is too hot or too cold
As we have mentioned before, making sure that the environment in which your baby sleeps is essential. If the baby is too hot, or too cold, it is likely to signal this issue by waking up crying.
Therefore, when you go to comfort your baby when it wakes up unhappy, take a look around to see whether or not the baby is comfortable. No matter if it is summer or winter, the ideal temperature for babies should be somewhere between 68 and 72 Fahrenheit degrees.
The preferred sleeping position for babies is on their back, on a firm surface. If the baby is young, no toys, blankets, or pillows should be added into the crib.
Another interesting reason why your bundle of joy might wake up crying has to do with sleep associations. Sleep associations are the things that your baby uses to help himself or herself fall asleep.
For instance, if your baby sleeps with the pacifier in its mouth, and, during the sleep, the pacifier falls off, there is a chance that it will wake up upset. Similarly, if your baby is used to being held, and it wakes up alone, it might also cry.
While these sleep associations are easier to identify, some might be a bit tricky to figure out. This is why you must understand how your baby behaves before and during its naps.
It simply needs some time to wake up
Some babies cry after they wake up even if they are well-rested. Once again, this is not a sign that should worry you as they simply need some time to fully wake up. When this happens, just give it a minute or two and it should be just fine.
Another thing that you can do when this happens is to comfort it or to offer it his/her favorite toy, or its pacifier, as this will also help soothe the baby.
Understand how and why the baby is crying
If your baby wakes up and it lets out a piercing cry that is rather loud, you should go and see what’s the matter as this is a signal that it has a need that you have to address. This often happens if the baby is hungry, cold, hot, or if it has a dirty diaper.
If the baby’s cry is soft or a whimper, or if the baby cries loudly and then it stays silent, it is best that you wait for a couple of minutes before you go and check on it. This is most likely caused by the baby fussing around in its sleep and waking up unintentionally.
Moreover, if the baby is sick or if it is teething, it will, statistically, wake up upset more often. So, if your baby is not the type that wakes up crying during nap time, it is advisable that you check its temperature and that you look to see whether or not it displays any signs of illness such as a runny nose.
What to do if the baby wakes up upset?
The most efficient way to get your baby to fall asleep again is to feed it by nursing it. However, if you do this often, there is the risk that the baby will start relying on being fed to fall asleep. This can become problematic, especially if you are out in public.
Another thing that you can try is to soothe the baby by rubbing its stomach or its back. This often works as it helps the baby reposition and find a better sleeping position.
Teach your baby how to self-soothe
If your baby is too reliant on you, or on any other external factors in order to seep, it might be time to teach your baby how to self soothe. If you do this, the baby will manage to fall asleep by itself if it wakes up by accident.
It is generally recommended that you start teaching self-soothing techniques when the baby is at least six months old.
When it is time to call the doctor
While a baby that wakes up crying is somewhat normal, some things should alarm you and cause you to call the doctor. Therefore, if your baby has feeding difficulties, and it is not able to eat enough, this might be the reason why it cannot sleep properly. If this happens, you should get in touch with a doctor.
Similarly, if the baby is in pain, or if the sleeping patterns of the baby change all of a sudden, it is also important that you consult a doctor, as this might be a sign that there might be something wrong going on that you need to address.
Putting a baby to sleep can be rather difficult, especially in the early months. Even more so, you have to remember that each baby is different and, thus, it has its particular set of needs that you have to address. The best thing that you can do is to observe your baby’s temperament and to cater to its needs.
Another aspect that you should remember is that, if your baby wakes up crying during a nap, chances are that there is nothing too serious that you should worry about. Still, if there are clues that something is not ok with your baby, you should never ignore your gut feeling and you should call the doctor.
To make sure that your baby gets a restful nap, you can try experimenting with its schedule by changing things up. For example, if your baby is used to being fed before its nap, you can try to feed it afterward.
Taking care of a baby can be challenging, and, thus, you should never blame yourself if the baby is having a bad day. Instead, try to accept that there will be bad and good days and give yourself credit for all the hard work that you are doing.