Nothing is more frustrating or upsetting than a sleep-trained baby crying when they should be sleeping. Sleep-trained babies cry for several reasons.
Some babies cry due to being overtired or because it’s part of their routine before falling asleep. Another reason that sleep-trained babies cry is because of a change in their schedule. This can be as small as new bed sheets or an illness.
Whatever the reason, there are ways to deal with this hiccup in their night-time routine which will ease all concerns and help your baby feel more settled.
What It Means When a Sleep-Trained Baby Still Cries After 45 Minutes
If a baby cries after 45 minutes of being put to sleep, they are unable to move between sleep cycles. A baby’s sleep cycles are shorter than adults, only lasting about 50 minutes. In-between deep sleep cycles, babies will be in a lighter sleep. This is when they may wake up and start to cry.
Crying after 45 minutes can occur from 8 weeks until 6 months old. You may have successfully sleep-trained your baby during this time and feel frustrated if they begin waking up for no other apparent reason.
Simple noise disturbances can be enough to wake a baby up between sleep cycles, but there are other reasons which may contribute, such as:
- Illness: If a baby is unwell, it can be a struggle to get them to sleep at all. If they are able to drift off, it’s likely that when they transition to lighter sleep, the symptoms of their illness will be enough to wake them.
- Hunger: The feeling of hunger is enough to wake your baby. When experiencing growth spurts, your baby will be hungrier, so are more likely to wake up crying to be fed.
- Overtired or under tired: Too much or too little awake time can cause a baby to struggle to sleep and make it more difficult to stay asleep.
- Discomfort: If a child is too warm or too cold, they will find it harder to stay asleep. It’s important to make sure the room temperature and their clothing are ideal for sleeping conditions. Also, take into consideration the amount of light in the baby’s room.
Babies may cry after 45 minutes, but this doesn’t mean they are unable to fall back to sleep. If a baby is sleep-trained, they may scream at the top of their lungs for 10 minutes but then settle themselves down again. It’s ok to allow them this time to adjust.
How Long Does It Take a Sleep-Trained Baby to Fall Asleep?
A sleep-trained baby should fall asleep in about 15 minutes. All children are different so it might take a little longer – or, with any luck, a little less time.
A baby is properly sleep-trained if, after a short period of settling time, they sleep up to 10-12 hours (also called sleeping through the night). They may fuss a little at night, but it shouldn’t be so much that you need to check on them constantly.
Parents should be open to all methods of sleep training. Babies are unique, so what works for one child won’t work for another. If you have been sleep-training for over a week and there is no improvement, it might be worth finding out why.
Try an alternative sleep training method, or even combine two which complement each other. Parents should see the effects of sleep training within 4 nights as long as they are consistent.
If a baby is not responding to training and is still crying for long periods of time, it may not be ready. The best age to sleep train a baby is between 4 and 6 months. Babies can put in long hours of undisrupted sleep at this age without requiring food.
If a Sleep-Trained Baby Cries, Did They Have Sleep Regression?
When a baby who has been successfully sleep-trained cries, this may be a sign of sleep regression, but it isn’t a guarantee. Sleep regression is a short-term disruption to a consistent night’s sleep usually caused by a change in a baby’s life.
While it might seem concerning, sleep regression is only temporary. It can be caused by positive changes such as babies developing and learning new skills like how to roll over or walk.
Changes in daytime naps are an indicator of sleep recession. Are these more or less frequent? Have you noticed your baby demands changing and wants extra feeding or physical comfort? Clues like these could be a sign of sleep recession.
The good news is that if a child is experiencing sleep regression, this should only last a few days or just over a week.
The exception to this is if the regression is caused by illness, in which case the parent should speak to a pediatrician about the best way to support the child while they recover.
It’s important to remember that parents need to stop and think before running to check on a baby, whatever the cause of crying during sleep time. It can be frustrating and upsetting to listen to your baby cry.
Leaving them to soothe themselves allows a baby the opportunity to gain experience in a new skill. Plus, a well-rested parent is as important as a well-rested child.
What Happens if a Baby Doesn’t Stop Crying After the Ferber Method?
It’s normal for babies to cry while learning how to get to sleep independently. But, if a baby is crying consistently for long periods of time, it may be time to reconsider this method. The training may not have been executed properly, or an alternative method may be needed.
The key to the Ferber method is consistency. Make sure throughout training that the times you check on the baby are the same. Be strict with bedtimes and avoid the urge to check on the baby after putting them to bed.
Ferber methods can be combined with other sleep-training techniques, such as cry it out if you find that your presence is part of the problem.
When a parent feels confident in their efforts, they can also consult a pediatrician or specialist in sleep training. While they may be sleep-training by the book, there could be other elements that only a fresh eye can pick up on.
Want to read more about the Ferber method? We’ve got The Beginner’s Guide to the Ferber Method of Sleep Training for you at that link.
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
Remember throughout sleep training that crying is normal. It comes from a place of frustration due to the baby being tired rather than being in pain.
It’s natural to want to soothe a baby when hearing that they are upset but try to hold back. The quicker a baby learns good sleeping habits, the fewer tears will be shed at bedtime.
There can be multiple causes for a sleep-trained baby to start crying, so take the time to assess the issue and be patient while waiting for the baby to adjust.
If the parents trust the methods and are consistent, they’ll create excellent sleeping habits to give their baby the rest they need.
Here are some of our most popular articles designed to help you.
- Baby Crying During Nighttime Checks? What to Do!
- The Science on Why Babies Cry Before Sleep (and Solutions)
Any of those articles are great resources, so read those next. Or if you have another question, use our search bar to find what you need – or contact us if we need to answer a question without an article!
Learning about parenting or sleep training techniques is important to learn from various reputable sources. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as parents.
- “Baby Is Sleep Trained but Still Crying.” Reddit, 20 June 2019, www.reddit.com/r/sleeptrain/comments/c2uwk0/baby_is_sleep_trained_but_still_crying.
- “When and How to Sleep Train Your Baby.” Cleveland Clinic, 3 May 2021, health.clevelandclinic.org/when-and-how-to-sleep-train-your-baby.
- “She Still Cries after Weeks of Sleep Training – Help!” Baby Sleep Advice for Parents & Kids, 27 Oct. 2016, www.babysleep.com/sleep-advice/she-still-cries-after-weeks-of-sleep-training-help/.
- Johnson, Nicole Founder. “Knowing When You’re Done Sleep Training.” The Baby Sleep Site – Baby / Toddler Sleep Consultants, 18 Sept. 2021, www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/knowing-when-youre-done-sleep-training/.