A child’s sleep is arranged differently than an adult’s sleep. Children spend more time in the stage of «superficial» sleep, can move in their sleep, smile and even cry. And children are also characterized by frequent awakenings. The younger the child, the more his dream differs from the adult’s dream.
Any baby can cry when waking up and this is not always a pathology. A child of the first year of life simply does not know how to communicate his discomfort and his needs in any other way, he cannot satisfy them himself.
Crying baby signals hunger, a wet diaper or a desire to stay on mom’s hands, which is normal. This does not mean that every awakening of the child will be accompanied by crying, but this is also possible normally. It all depends on the type of temperament of the child, the age of the child, the satisfaction of his needs.
Up to what age are crying attacks allowed?
Waking up crying is possible at any age, but of course, they are more common the younger the child. They can happen in every dream or once every few nights. The frequency also depends on the age of the child, his temperament and other factors.
At an older age, at 1-3-5 years old, children can also wake up crying. There are a lot of reasons. Perhaps he had a bad dream, or the child did not get enough sleep, or fell asleep too tired and overexcited.
Parasomnia may occur — for example, night terrors. These are states when the child wakes up immediately from the deep stage of sleep, bypassing the superficial one. At the same time, the baby can cry loudly, not recognize and even push away parents, and after 5-20 minutes fall asleep again and do not remember anything in the morning.
Such conditions often frighten parents, but are not dangerous for the child. They can be associated with overwork, a development leap and pass independently as the child grows up.
School-age children are much less likely to wake up crying. But they may also have nightmares, growth pains or parasomnia may occur. At this age, awakenings with crying are often associated with a violation of the regime, «overwork» and overwork, developmental leaps, and temperament peculiarities. Some of these reasons can be eliminated.
What should parents do?
The causes of sleep disorders of each individual child are individual. To understand them, you need to analyze the child’s sleep, under what conditions he falls asleep, his regime, daily activity, as well as nutrition, the nature of the relationship between parents and the child.
When the baby wakes up and cries, first of all, satisfy his needs, calm him down, try to put him to bed again in the usual way. If the child wakes up due to parasomnia (for example, night terrors), you can wake him up to the end, and then put him to bed again.
Understand: the crying of a child in most cases is not dangerous for him, but it scares us, parents, very much. This does not mean that you do not need to calm the child, but you definitely should not panic.
What is the Moreau reflex and how is it related to sudden awakenings?
The Moreau reflex is an innate reflex. You can check it by suddenly lowering the baby’s head below the trunk. In response, the baby will spread the handles to the sides, unclench the fists, and after a couple of seconds immediately bend them again. Often the reaction is accompanied by crying.
The Moro reflex is marked from birth and passes by 3-6 months of life. Sometimes it can occur spontaneously — without provocation, including in a dream. If the child is characterized by awakenings due to a spontaneous Moro reflex in a dream, swaddling can be used.
IMPORTANT: in 3-5 months of life, when the child begins to turn over on his stomach on his own, swaddling should be stopped.
When to contact a neurologist?
In any cases when the mother does not understand the reasons for the child’s awakening with crying. The doctor and his mother will analyze the sleep mode, wakefulness and other factors affecting sleep. In most cases, a detailed questioning and analysis of the sleep diary is sufficient.
But sometimes additional research may be required. For example, polysomnography for sleep breathing disorders, video EEG monitoring for suspected epilepsy.
IMPORTANT: do not prescribe examinations yourself, start with a doctor’s examination.
Usually sleep disorders are corrected by working with causal factors. And if there are any violations, it is important not to delay until the last, when there are no more forces, but to contact a specialist.