20 answers

My Baby Wakes up Sreaming Every Morning.

My 16 month old daughter wakes up every morning (in the 6 o'clock hour) SREAMING. Several mornings, even after getting her up she continues to cry and scream while I am holding her. Our family schedule doesn't require us to be up super early, so this is what I wake up to everday. She goes to bed in the 8 o'clock hour every night. She is teething right now, but this is not a new problem. I am desperate to have a peaceful morning. I don't mind getting up early, but the relentless screaming gets me off on the wrong foot. Sometimes I have the patience to handle it, sometimes I don't. I would occasionally like to not see the 6 o'clock hour by "sleeping in". She sleeps well throughout the night. Here is list of the things I have tried: dark curtains to block the sunlight, feeding her right before bedtime since dinner is usually around 6pm, giving her the teething medicine, keeping her up later - closer to 9 pm. So far none of this has worked and my husband and I are at our wits end.

What can I do next?

More Answers

What has worked to calm her down? How long has this been going on?

If you know she is going to wake up screaming between six and five why don't you set your alarm for six (or five to six)in the morning and wake her up? Then you're up, having already gone to the bathroom and brushed your teeth, and if you're waking her up with smiles this may help her not have such a rough wake up call. You'll also be in a better frame of mind.

All those negative incidents in your family are just as stressful to your sixteen month old as they are to you. The world is SCARY. Before waking up is when we dream, she's likely having night terrors and needs you to comfort her.

I know it's hard not to get upset with her but that only makes these experiences worse for her. She needs reassurance. "You're all right, Mommy's here, you're in your bed, in your room, at home with your family who loves you. You're all right."

My daughter used to wake up all the time screaming and crying, which of course was triggered by some serious change going on in our family. So, I do know what it is like to wake up to a child screaming and crying. Mine never remembers it, and I bet yours doesn't either (another hallmark of a night terror as opposed to a nightmare or bad dream).

Make yourself have the patience you need. If you feel like you don't then take a moment to calm down before going to her or before saying anything to her. Take deep breaths. It's better for her to scream and cry for one moment longer than to have you use an unkind tone with her. Go into super calm mode.

Think and feel more compassionately towards her. Help her have a happy day. Remember, she does not have the communication skills you and I do so she can not tell you what's been bothering her.

I feel for your daughter and for your family. I hope this helps. You and yours are in my prayers.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi R.,
Don't underestimate the impact of the family issues. Children are little emotional sponges.
Try Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child, but it may be that she is releasing her anxiety at 6 am...
The book does recommend to put your child to bed earlier, and I have heard from a doctor that inscidence of night terrors goes up if they bed after 9. Maybe she needs to go to bed at 730?
Check out the book. I hope it helps.

1 mom found this helpful


Its been my experience that when baby or child wakes up screaming, its because they are overtired and didn't get enough sleep. if I were you, I would try putting your daughter to bed 20-30 minutes earlier. A child her age can have a bedtime as early as 6pm and still be able to sleep until 6 or 7am. And actually most kids need more sleep that we realize...
I realize you have other kids and so an earlier bedtime could be hard to do, and you may have to work backwards slowly... like making her bedtime 5-10 minutes earlier each night, until you reach the 7pm bedtime or even 6:30pm.
There's a great book on the market that has helped me with this kind of situation (back when I was a full time) nanny...
called "healthy sleep habits happy child, by Dr, Weissbluth"
I look to it for all my sleeping concerns and its always worked for me!

Good Luck!
-K. l

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with the other responders suggesting an earlier bedtime, if that's possible (I know having older kids going to bed later can make that tough). It made a big difference for us. Try 7:30, and then 7:00. It won't make her get up earlier; it will make her sleep better (perhaps curtailing the morning screaming) and possibly sleep a little later--that was our experience, and the experience of many others. If our daughter wakes up grumpy, it always means she didn't sleep well, even if we didn't know it. Good luck!


1 mom found this helpful

Something no one else has suggested is maybe this behavior has nothing to do with sleep. Even if you feed her before bedtime, that's still a long time to go without eating for a baby her age. Have you tried giving her a bottle when she wakes up? I'm assuming you aren't breastfeeding, but if you are, you could pull her into bed with you and nurse her back to sleep. I understand how stressful it is to have a screaming baby... especially that early in the morning!!

I also agree with a few of the others when they say that kids need more sleep than we realize!!! My son is 2 and still sleeps 12 hours at night with a 2-hour nap during the day. Again, your daughter could EASILY have a 6:30pm bedtime and still sleep until 7am.

Sometimes it's just by trial and error that we find what works for our children, and remember that every child is different. Good luck, and keep the faith... she will only be 16 months old for 30 days!! :)

1 mom found this helpful


I have this really great book called "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." It is so good and it has helped me so much with my two little ones. It helped me with many sleep issues I have had with my kids. But anyway, one thing that the author suggests is to put your daughter to bed EARLIER. It sounds weird because you think you want to put her to bed later to have her sleep later, but it could be that your daughter is overly tiered which may be causing her to wake so early. Just like us, if we don't get enough sleep it is harder for us to sleep. You could try to put her down at say 7pm instead of 8 and see if that helps her to sleep longer in the mornings. Early bedtimes has helped both of my kids sleep longer and better. If you want more suggestions that book is really great. I think you can get it at the library or on Amazon.com for 10 bucks or so. Hope that helps!


1 mom found this helpful

Sleeping from 8 pm to 6 am sounds pretty darn good!! Not sure you can fault her for not wanting to sleep more than 10 hours. (My DD is only 6 mo though, so I don't have all your experience) I am pretty sure that by deciding to become a mom, we have all but given up our right to ever sleep in. I can't even remember the last time I had more than 5 hours sleep in a row (my DD sleeps all night, but I get up to pump). :)
That being said, I second the recommendation of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. The waking up screaming has only happened to my daughter when teething. . .maybe this time she is just having especially painful break through or multiple teeth? Good luck and remember this too will pass and you will miss the times you could pick her up and comfort her. . .

1 mom found this helpful

i had a similar problem with my kid when she was around that age (maybe 14-17 mos) except that it was after the afternoon nap. she'd wake up not screaming but crying really hard and was inconsolable for a good 45 minutes. she was getting plenty of sleep, wasn't sick or teething, not hungry. it just happened pretty regularly for a while then stopped. maybe it was just a phase, but it was pretty tough on everyone.

My little one (2 years) wakes up screaming - he gets so upset when something wakes him up or when he tosses and turns, but it is brief. He has a temper.

However, when I have had real screaming issues with all three of my kids, they have had ear infections - the pain radiates at night and while sleeping. Have you checked for ear infection?

Good luck.

Our daughter loves her little "glow bug." She used to wake up screaming, but we showed her the glow bug and had it play music...and now she does it by herself. She still wakes screaming sometimes, but quickly finds her glow bug and it soothes her. I don't remember what it is called, but we found it at Target for less than $20. It plays songs and glows with a gentle squeeze. You want to find a way to soothe her that doesn't require a lot of your attention. I hope this works for you, and the stress reduces at your home.

I agree with some of the other responses. At 16 months, she picks up on the stresses in a different way than your 11 year and 5 year old. She doesn't know how to handle the stress so this how she does it. I would minimize any negative situation around her or take her out of it completely. Try to keep the negative incidents or any discussion about them to a minimum around the kids. I really do believe her screaming is due to your current family situation, atmosphere and she doesn't know how to handle it. I really hope things get better and your family finds some peace.

Hi R.,
I HIGHLY recommend Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth for age appropriate sleep needs and schedules. The first thing I would do is try an earlier bedtime, like 6:30-7pm. Putting her to bed earlier can actually make her sleep better and longer. She will make up better rested. Make sure she is also napping twice a day for at least an hour each nap, around 9am and 1pm. The book explains biological sleep rhythms and how/when they evolve/mature. The most common sleep mistake parents make is too late a bedtime. Dr. Weissbluth cites tons of research showing the adverse effects of sleeping outside those natural rhythms. If you have questions, email me.

Hi R. , I think the key is the stress your family is under . take a step back, calm yourself first. the more frustrated, or stressed about the situation , the more she will respond to that , even if your trying to hide the frustration , she can feel it. And that translates to her as, somethings wrong with mom and it has to do with me. keep a flower remedy called " five flower remedy" with you, it's the same as ' rescue remedy' but better . Take it as soon as you wake or any time you need it to calm yourself and bring yourself back to center. She can take a couple of drops as well. i would recommend you and the baby go to see Jill Stevens, for a couple of visits. She is amazing with babies, they are her speciality. She does family/ pediatric
acupuncture and nutritional counseling. I send all my clients that have issues like this to her . she is a miracle worker. Oh , and she's affordable! her info is wholefamilywellnness.com
Jill Stevens ###-###-####

hope that helps! J. Tilsner CPM Awakenings Birth Services

Could it be night terrors?

Give your daughter a good multivitamin like MEGA KIDS That is high in the B vitamins (which are for the central nervous system)and also give cod liver oil. This works for night terrors.

If you are breastfeeding, make sure you take these things yourself. Cut back on sugar (that kills B vits)I think brown rice is good for B vits.

Hi R.,

I just read your post and here is my question:
-Have you tried a bottle of warm milk?
It could be that she wakes up hungry, and if not it will maybe soothe her and help her get back to sleep.
Good luck to you and your family.
I have a 16 months old (boy) myself and a 6 1/2 ( girl).

My son used to wake up screaming every morning also until recently, he's now 17 months. What I could figure out was that he was STARVING!!! Until he had that first bottle I couldn't get him to calm down. I'm not sure if that's the same issue going on with your daughter, but that's just what seemed to help for us. Good luck

I know this is hard, but most things about parenting are lovably hard. Try waking up earlier and waking her in a more controlled way. Pick her up and let her wake up in your arms with snuggles and kisses. she is obviously not a morning person (I know the feeling) but she will need to learn how to tolerate mornings anyway in order to function normally in this crazy world.

I think a lot of these suggetions are good: try slightly earlier bed time (20-30 min), make sure she has a bottle/sippy cup of whole milk (full fat) before bed and when she wakes up, and, the stress in your household could very well be contributing.

3 things I didn't see listed: 1) is she falling asleep on her own, or do you hold/rock her to sleep then place her in her bed? If she is not falling asleep on her own, but then wakes up all by herself. . .she may think you are gone! Remember, at this age, if they can't see you, you're not there. 2) Could it be nightmares or night terrors? Do some research to find out what nightmares/night terrors "look" like for this age. 3) what's the temperature like in her room in the morning? Too cold or too hot will make a baby very fussy, uncomfortable and will wake them up from much needed sleep. Even if they are tired. It does for my son and always has. Get a digital "weather station" to track the temperature in her room and make adjustments +/- to see what works.

Also, get some help and support for the stress in your life. Seek out your Pastor a trusted friend, a counselor. . .something. This is a family issue and will effect everyonne.

Oh, and go to bed earlier, or take a nap during the day until this behavior stops. That way, you won't be so exhausted or feeling fussy yourself at 6am! :0)

Good Luck and God Bless.

I agree with other responses about the stress in your family. Toddlers don't know how to deal with stress well, and it sounds like there's a lot. She may be having nightmares / night terrors. My eldest daughter had a lot of nightmares / night terrors and would often wake up in the middle of the night upset by them. We would talk about them and it would help a bit. A friend taught her to beat up the monsters in her dreams, and that helped a lot:) Of course she was 2 and had better verbal skills than I imagine your 16 month old has, but it's worth a shot...

I know it's hard, but I would do my best to be loving and compassionate. This won't last forever, so maybe really work on being awake and ready to be there for her when she needs you until this passes. Eventually she won't have this problem and you'll be able to sleep in, but for now, she needs you.

One idea that no one suggested is giving her a warm bath and / or massage just before she goes to sleep. Tell her everything is good and happy. Reassure her nightly as she's falling asleep, and be there to reassure her when she wakes up, I think would be my plan. I also like the idea of some type of special stuffed toy or blanket that could help her feel happy and safe. When I was little, my "blanky" was a special protective shield against nightmares in my world :)

Please try to remember, this too shall pass.

Hi R.,

It could be she is not getting to a deep sleep and it could causes her to wake up not rested and upset. She feels the family has an imbalance and is effected by it.

There are natural solutions for this situation. If you are interested let me know and I will send it to you.

Have a happy holiday.

N. Marie

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