My Baby Is Crying All Night

My Baby Is Crying All Night – Houston Central Doulas

My Baby Is Crying All Night, And I Don’t Know Why

“Why is my baby crying all night?” is one of the most common postpartum questions. Sometimes your baby cries, and cries, and cries. Sometimes you start crying, too, It often feels worse when it’s the middle of the night.

You need sleep. You feel like it’s your job to calm your baby’s crying. They must urgently need something from you, and you want them to be okay. You love them, and you’re biologically programmed to respond to every single time they wiggle, whimper, or cry.

One of the most unpopular opinions ever, but the one I want to offer you today, is that it’s not going to hurt your baby to cry for a few minutes while you regroup. I’m not talking about a long standing bout of crying it out, This is different. This is that you have tried to meet your baby’s needs, and nothing is working.

Babies have a very simple set of needs. You just have to figure out which one is the most pressing at the time. Sometimes babies need a reset. You need a reset, too. Babies only have a very narrow set of needs compared to the needs that we perceive that we have as adults.

Sometimes adults need a Twix bar.

Babies don’t even know what that is yet. The magic is in quickly identifying the needs of your baby so that they don’t rile themselves up. If you can quickly predict what your baby needs next, it lessens the time of the crying. I know you want to punch me, but just hear me out. 



Sleep Deprivation Isn’t Good For Anyone


You know how when you are sleep deprived anything you do in that state feels like a huge deal? You get whiny. You might want to cry, or actually cry. You feel sluggish. You feel overstimulated in general.

Well, babies get overstimulated, too.

And it’s our natural instinct as parents to pick them up and rock them, hold them, swing them, shush them, and whisper sweet nothings in their ears.

One of the things that you may not realize is that, while you would never intentionally aggravate your baby, sometimes in our sleep deprived state, our rocking motions pick up speed, or are erratic. And babies want smooth, steady, secure, and consistent rocking.

Maybe you drink some caffeine at 2am, or you might die for realsies. Suddenly, your leg bouncing goes from a controlled motion to a constant tapping on the floor that you can’t even control because your leg is now thinking for itself. Unfortunately, your brain isn’t going to think for itself. Your brain says it’s tired. And sometimes, in the middle of the night, things that are calm and easy by day are not so calm and easy by night.

In other words, sometimes setting your baby down in a safe, quiet, and dark place IS what is best for your baby in that moment. We try to change environments, positions, noises, light levels, and everything we can think of in the middle of the night to try to calm the baby, and to make ourselves comfortable when our forearms are about to fall off. But sometimes all we need is a do over on the longest night ever


So, I’m going to talk about some of the reasons your baby is crying.


My Baby Is Crying All Night  Because It’s Exhausted


Babies don’t have a circadian rhythm when they are first born. They’re awake when they feel like it, and asleep when they feel like it. It’s our job to gently let them lead us into their natural patterns. When they show us what they like, and are consistent with it, we can gently make small edits to their routines that make a huge difference over time.

These small edits still respond directly to your baby’s needs, provide them with the bonding and attachment they need, while also teaching them how to soothe themselves over time.


Signs That Your Baby Is Tired

Babies, naturally, have a combust and lose their shit button if they don’t get enough sleep. And instead of just passing out somewhere, they are pissed that they’ve been awake too long, and it creates a fitful sleep. Look for tired cues in your baby. Yawning is the most obvious. Circles under the eyes. Glassy eyes. Fitful feedings. Trying to thrash their arms and legs around. Seeming extra sensitive to sounds that startle them.

For the first three months, babies still love to be swaddled in swaddling blankets or sleep sacks. A tight and secure swaddle will make the most magical difference. There’s many videos on Youtube about swaddling. Practice makes perfect. Don’t let your swaddling skills make you feel inept. It took me years. I never did master it on my own kid. And now I am a Magical Ninja Swaddler. Hint: Watch 3 Ways To Swaddle Your Baby. 


Buy a sound machine or play white noise on your phone or via CD. It will create a sound frequency that your baby will fixate on and help mask the sounds of anything else going on at home and the sounds from cars, planes, trains, and every other obnoxious thing happening outside. It’s okay to lay your baby flat on their back in their crib or bassinet and see if they can regroup.


My Baby Is Crying All Night Because It’s Hungry


Babies are so random when it comes to food. They would make awesome foodie friends. They want to eat all the time. But if they don’t like their food in the moment, they won’t eat it.

Newborns start off with small frequent feeds that range from an ounce or two to three or four ounces. As they get older, they take large amounts of milk at less frequent feeds. Babies go through growth spurts that can mean one night they are happy with three ounces every three hours, and they suddenly want six ounces in that same period of time the next day.

My best advice for night feeds is to set up a comfortable place that has everything you need. You’re going to be there a minute. Regardless of whether you are awake to breastfeed, pump, or formula feed, please be patient with yourself and with your baby. Your baby will try to tell you they aren’t interested in milk. But it’s usually a lie. Sometimes babies want to inhale milk. At other times, they want a slow feed full of snuggles by mom and/or dad.

What Is Paced Feeding? 

If you practice paced feeding, which is the process of feeding your baby in an upright supported position instead of in a cradle hold, your baby will suck and get milk only if they want milk in that moment. So many cases of suspected reflux or vomiting are actually a baby that has eaten too much at one time. During paced feeding, your baby isn’t going to get more milk than what it wants. But it’s possible to get too much milk if they are semi-reclining and the nipple is leaking milk into their mouths. The leak forces them to swallow.

It’s kind of like how if you offer me a brownie, I might eat it. But if you force it into my mouth and put a hand over my face, I’m forced to do something with it. Wow, I just made brownies sound awful. If your baby is freaking out, try topping them off on their bottle. Because if you engage in the (wo)man vs baby battle in the middle of the night, once both your brains are fried, it will be feeding time again anyway. Babies can go from happily taking a bottle if you offer it while both of you are half asleep, to being so hangry that they fight you.

My Baby Is Crying All Night Because It’s Too Hot Or Too Cold

Babies and temperatures is a tricky subject because all babies are different. Like us, they have temperature preferences, and those preferences change depending on other scenarios. When babies get mad and scream in your face, they naturally get warmer and red in the face. They can get sweaty. Sometimes opening their swaddles or blankets or removing a layer of clothes is exactly what they need. Hot babies are red in the face, sweaty and sticky, cranky, and feel warm to the touch. If your baby is too cold, they will shiver, try to curl up into a ball, their skin will get goosebumps, and their hands and feet will feel cold to the touch. When all else fails, a temperature change can be the magic that you need.


My Baby Is Crying All Night Because They’re Injured And/Or Annoyed


When all else fails, really take the time to look your baby over. Their diaper could have fallen off or sideways (they do that, no matter how pro you are. If you haven’t been peed or pooped on in the middle of the night, you’re my hero.) Their clothes can be too tight. A button or a zipper could be pinching them. They could have their arms or legs stuck awkwardly in their clothes. They could have a rash, a bug bite, or some kind of other complaint that you can see if you look them over under a light. Maybe they have one of your hairs stuck up their nose, or wrapped around a toe. Maybe they just think their outfit isn’t fashionable and they’re so over it and they’re luring you into a diaper change so that they can pee on their clothes so that they can change from Garanimals into Cat & Jack clothes.

My Baby Is Crying All Night Because They Are Constipated


Good news! The windi is the most magical baby device ever. One of the scariest parts of parenting a baby for the first time is the first moment that you have to insert something into their bottom. Whether it’s a rectal thermometer or a suppository, it totally feels like you’re getting all up in their personal space. If you are gentle, use a lubricant such as petroleum jelly, and feel confident that your baby needs to poo, a facilitated poop can be magical. Sometimes a bowel movement that would take your babies hours to pass comes out easily with the aid of some lubrication, or an object to stimulate them to push against the object in order to finish the bowel movement. If you ever noticed that your baby has a bowel movement after you check their temperature rectally, that’s what just happened.


My Baby Is Crying All Night Because They Are Sick


We all know what it feels like to be super under the weather. Babies get like that, too. A fever in a baby is usually recognized at 100.3 degrees and higher. The first fever that your baby gets is scary, and I hope that you have several months until the first one. If your baby’s fever is changing rapidly higher, set alarms to recheck their temps. The vast majority of baby fevers are not a big deal. They resolve themselves. But in some instances, some babies are very fever sensitive and can go from a slightly elevated fever to 105 degrees in less than an hour. 105 degrees is febrile seizure territory. So, don’t panic. Monitor closely. If the fever is rising, try to get ahold of your pediatrician. Since most fevers in infants last several days, try to get a normal sick baby visit during the day. If you’re concerned at all, go straight to an Urgent Care or Emergency Room.

Most pediatrician offices, at night, will tell you to give your baby tylenol or ibuprofen (dosage is based on WEIGHT and NOT age), monitor closely, and go to the ER if it gets worse. Some of the best ways to reduce a fever in infants are to keep them from getting overheated, to apply a cool washcloth to their forehead, give them a room temp bath, and to make sure they keep their fluid intake up.


My Baby Is Crying All Night Because It Hates Me


Let me assure you that your baby does not hate you, even if it feels like it right now. You may have tried all of the above, and your baby is still screaming and crying. Sometimes babies need a reset. Sometimes the reset is in the form of being set down to calm down somewhere safe. Sometimes a bath will calm them down. Sometimes they want to listen to a song. Sometimes they want to lay on the changing table. Sometimes they think mirrors are magical portals kind of like The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. If you notice something unique and maybe a little odd that calms your baby down, write it down! It’s your secret baby magic book!


Now What?


If you know that your baby is clean, fed, not injured or sick, and in a safe place, you have absolutely done the best that you can do. And it’s okay to go to the bathroom, get some water and a snack, listen to a song of your own (seriously, find a song on Youtube that you love and listen to it on blast.), and regroup.


Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe – Or, Sleepydust


I’m a firm believer (just waiting on the science) that babies can pick up on our emotions and our vibe of the moment. I think that when we are frustrated, they can tell. And when we are calm and gentle in our thoughts, our actions and our body language follows and guides them into happy and content sleepland. If you feel frustrated with your baby internally, speak to your baby aloud. Tell your baby, “I love you. I would like to help you calm down. Let’s talk about ways that I can help you right now.” By speaking to your baby, you increase your bonding. They also enjoy your voice. And since you’re basically talking to yourself, you might think of a possible cause of your baby’s discontent that you haven’t thought about yet.


I hope this was helpful to you! Happy sleep vibes y’all!


To learn more about how I can personally unicorn your baby to sleep, check out my postpartum doula services page.

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