Newborns do not sleep through the night most of the time. They usually wake up a couple of times to feed. This might however be accompanied by crying spells that might causes distress to the parents. Babies mostly communicate through crying as they cannot speak. Below are some of the reasons why babies cry during the night:


1. Hunger

Babies will normally feed every two to three hours. Hunger would easily keep them up at night crying uncontrollably. This would be accompanied by smacking of the lips and sucking on a fist. Keeping the feeding intervals regular and early response to their cues to feed will have them sleeping peacefully.


2. Gas in the Stomach

When a baby is hungry and they are breastfeeding quickly, they tend to swallow in air together with the milk. The kind of stomach upset observed characteristically comes right after breastfeeding. A baby will be fussy and cry instead of settling down to sleep after a feed. Feed your baby before they become frantically hungry and take short break burp your baby during breastfeeding or after a feed.


3. A Wet Diaper

Wet diapers should preferably be changed as soon as possible to avoid irritating the child’s skin. Delay in changing the diaper could also cause diaper rash which could also keep the baby awake at night.


4. Uncomfortable Swaddling

As you swaddle your baby during their sleep, do you check to ensure that one of their fingers or toes is not stuck uncomfortably? This might keep them awake and crying during the night due to the discomfort and pain that they are undergoing. Isn’t it sad they can neither speak nor point out the place of affliction?


5. Feeling too Hot or Cold

It gets very surprising when adults are hot during the night, have their windows open but let their baby sleep under five duvets. The extremes in temperatures will make the baby irritable and thus the crying all through the night. The cold will also make them uncomfortable.


6. Feeling Tired

Your baby may be tired but finding it hard to sleep. This could be due to a noisy environment or overstimulation like too much rocking and singing. Try taking your baby to a quiet room after feeding to help her calm down and sleep.


7. Colic

Colic is frequent, prolonged and intense crying or fussiness in a healthy infant. Colic can be particularly frustrating for parents because the baby’s distress occurs for no apparent reason and no amount of consoling seems to bring any relief. Colic is usually defined as crying for three or more hours a day, three or more days a week, for three or more weeks. These episodes often occur in the evening, when parents themselves are often tired. Episodes of colic usually peak when an infant is about 6 weeks old and decline significantly after 3 to 4 months of age. Excessive, inconsolable crying may be colic or an indication of an illness or condition that causes pain or discomfort. Schedule an appointment with your child’s doctor for a thorough exam if your infant experiences excessive crying or other signs or symptoms of colic.


8. Illness

When a child is sick, they will definitely cry. This will be indiscriminate on whether it is during the day or during the night. Other indications will guide you into thinking of an illness, for example a fever (Temperature more than 37.2 degrees), convulsions, lethargy or even refusal to feed. Seeking medical attention would be the best thing.
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Written by Dr. Joan Ruguru

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