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My 11 Month Old Wakes Up Screaming – What Can It Be?

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My daughter just turned 11 months. Lately she has been waking up in the middle of night SCREAMING. Even when I pick her up, she is still screaming. She has screamed so loud and hard that I have considered taking her to the hospital. She already takes pepcid, mylanta and motrin before bed, and she has been waking up for 6 months or so.

She has slept through the night without making a peep on many occasions, but wakes up more often than not. Since she has been doing this for so many months, we have tried to sleep train her and let her cry it out, which has worked, but then a few nights later or so, she is back to screaming. I wouldn’t be so bothered by it if she just woke up and went back to sleep, but she even cries in my arms or in my bed. I’ve seen her fall asleep on me and wake up screaming.

She has a bedtime routine, and goes to sleep in her crib on her own, awake, each night. She also goes to sleep on her own for naps. I have taken her to the doctor about 8 times, convinced she had an ear infection after these types of nights and she never has anything wrong with her. She is already on a special formula (alimentum) although at 10 months she was switched to a sensitive similac formula to try to get her ready for milk. I would normally think it was a change in formula that is affecting her, but she acted this way on alimentum as well.

I truly believe there is something bothering her and I nor the doctors can figure it out. Any thoughts?



Baby Help Line:

Possible Reasons For Crying At Night When 1 Year Old

You seem to be having a tough time! Two possible reasons that come to my mind are acid reflux and night terrors or nightmares.

Has your daughter been checked for reflux? That could be a reason why she wakes up crying, i.e. if stomach acids are giving her heartburn. Usually babies tend to grow out of reflux at around 1 year old, but not all do. Try elevating the crib some 30 degrees to see it it helps. If it does, you should definitely discuss this possibility with a doctor.

While night terror usually occurs for babies older than 1 year, may be that could be something your daughter has. If your baby seems to still be asleep or at least doesn’t recognize you and is very hard to console, it could be night terror. One of our kids had that for a couple of months at around 1,5 years old. It is quite scary, but the child is not awake and doesn’t remember the episode in the morning.

If you think it might be night terror, don’t try to wake her up. Just be there for her, talk to her gently, snuggle her and wait for the terror to pass. If it comes on very regular times at night, you can try waking her up about 15 minutes before every night for a week to break the “habit”. This might make the terror go away.

If your baby does wake and responds to you while screaming, she might be having nightmares rather than night terrors. Nightmares happen to all children (and adults). Try minimizing any TV (even if it is just the TV being on while she is playing next to it) in the evening and a calm, cosy evening time to see if it helps.

A third possible reason could be some food allergy, if your baby seems to have tummy pain and is very gassy.

Those were a few ideas. But I’m not a doctor and as a MOM I think you’re doing the right thing by not giving up. Talk to another doctor for a second opinion! Also read here about another baby that screams at night.

I wish you good luck!


Update: This question has generated a lot of comments and discussions. Join in below! 🙂



Jan 05, 2010

Homeopathic colic tabs

by: Anonymous

I dont know why but I will say that our 11 month old suddenly started screaming like all out fierce which was unusual to say the least as he was always able to go to sleep easily.

Having ruled out everything else we opted to try Highlands colic tabs, these area miracle, you get them at food coops they are homepoathic, but we are not a family that usually uses homoeopathic remedies so this was different for us.

You don’t touch the tab as it is small and they say it diminishes its potencey, you shake 2-3 on a small baby spoon and put some water over the tabs to help disolve them, then wait 15 mins and repeat , we get our son to lay down in his crib give him all his comfort iems and then let him cry for a few in 15 mins we come back and give him another round, we try not to pick him but just keep saying no its night night time, take some medicine, by the third round he passes out.

This has been the only thing to work for us, and we are finally getting some sleep again. I do not know what caused this sudden crying to begin with but I can tell you this really worked for us!!

Good Luck!

Jan 06, 2010

You sound just like us!

by: Linda

Wow, I thought I was reading about myself! This so sounds like our daughter who is 13 months old now and is STILL screaming all night long! She was put on Prevacid for silent reflux at a few months old but nothing has helped! I am so stressed out and afraid something is terribly wrong! if you ever find anything that works please email me at suedollz @ hotmail.com!

Jan 06, 2010

by: Effie

I have an 11 month old as well that is waking 3-4 times per night and I certainly agree with all the other comments. However, I believe you mentioned that you give your daughter Motrin every night?!?….This can be causing tummy problems as well…Motrin has been known to be much more damaging to the stomach lining vs. tylenol…I know the affects of tylenol are not as quick and as effective at times, but it still does the job. I would use motrin only when my daughter has a high fever that is difficult to reduce. You’re pediatrician will most likely be indifferent, but if I were you I would do some research on over the counter meds prior to administering them to child. Hope this helps a bit! You all will get through it!
-Fe, Doc. of Physical Therapy

Feb 03, 2010

metaphsyical or otherwise spiritual
by: Listenw/urmind

babies are highly sensitive to environmental factors like financial stress, marital problems, and spiritual turmoil or unrest of all types.

Yes in this western medicine world we live in its very easy to forget that we are all just spiritual beings suffering from the human condition, furthermore the very young are still closer to the source of creation and universal harmony in our X value of age, whichever it may be when we become parents.

I know that sounds very left but trust me, its no lie that certain people are born with certain gifts, be it the term i so hate in “paranormal”, or what i like to look at as over the top empathetic ability, children are not used to this material, image driven, fact paced world. The first 3/4 of a child’s life are spent literally attached to another being, and the inner source that makes that smile up comes from somewhere else, still up for argument. I digress, however my point being, Babies are not adjusting to teething, eating, gas, sleeping….they are adjusting to being physical beings, some of our children are fortunate enough to retain some of their inner abilities which escape the bounds of science and explanation and the majority of “NORMAL” people…

I am not here saying your daughter is carol anne from poltergeist, but i am suggesting you take steps, look into your property history, see if their where any deaths in the house, especially children, even natural ones(if your in an apartment, or some other kind of conjoined mass living space, look into the surrounding units history, or perhaps even current goings on. Contact your local priest, rabbi, or flying spaghetti monster, whatever faith fancy’s your flavor, have your home blessed…not to be assumptive but if you have any skeletons, or your immediate family now is the time to pull them out, as is the saying “the sins of the father” spiritual trauma can last for centuries…(family history??? any blood feuds, vendettas, controversy of any kind from the old day)…

on that note, your child just could be gifted, and you will have to learn to be a supportive parent of a gifted person. Heck, all these guys with their logic are probably right, however i speak from experience….its not every day the roman catholic church of Los angeles condones a clerical investigation into your family history like they did when my daughter was waking up in the middle of the night screaming bloody murder at the top of her lungs so fierce her veins were bulging, its no coincidence when common place doctors looked at me like a nut when i would bring her in soon after fit as a fiddle, only to return to my home and feel her claw at me as she perceived something inconceivable to the adult, 9-5 mind….fortunately for her and my Family, we got help

Jun 17, 2010

11 month old on meds?

by: Anonymous

I am surprised that your 11 month old is on so many medications. Have you tried talking to a naturopath? If I were you I’d switch doctors asap.

Aug 27, 2010

Dont let your child cry it out
by: Mum2Emma

I have a 9 months old. I noticed that he wakes up screaming in the night only on those days when he has cried a lot during the day or in the evenings. On those days when he spends the day happy and playing he doesn’t get these night escapades. You mention that you let your baby cry it out at times. Am so against this coz it solves one problem and creates another. Babies dream about it and therefore they cry even in their sleep.

Oct 03, 2010

Child maybe feeling very insecure
by: Anonymous

I personally believe a baby that is left to cry has been given the message of abandonment. Its hard to tell when they’re young (heck even abused children seem to act like everything is fine) These issues surface way later in life, like the teen years.

Crying is a babies way of communicating and ignoring that is like saying what you have to say doesn’t matter, its not valuable enough to pay attention to. Thats why they give up. They feel deep down that they just don’t matter enough. It has nothing to do with manipulation or control.

Babies who feel insecure are more likely to learn manipulation and control sooner because its a survival mechanism. They realize they have to fight for moms affection and attention. Babies who are so secure and know momma will always be there are confident and when they are ready they will become independent the natural way.

I have never let my baby cry it our and she is the most patient easy going happy baby. She is rarely fussy about anything. I don’t know if the crying is causing the problem but I really am against it. It is way more work but like so many things in life, more work now often pays off big time in the end.

When they are teenagers they will remember the trust they have for you and that sense of value and it will be crucial in that time. The easy way out almost always has negative consequences in the long run.

Hope this helps. I really sympathize with you because I know how hard it can be. I’ll be praying for ya!

Nov 09, 2010

noticed the same
by: Anonymous

My daughter is going on ten months and just started the same. We have been dealing with colic like issues from birth with little to no help from ped. She is on Enfamil nutramigen and it is not helping much. She has frequent painful bouts of gas and bowel movements. Dr. does not think it is reflux because there is no spitting up. Please if any ideas help; no one in family is sleeping.

Dec 18, 2010

November 9th mom reply
by: Anonymous

If your daughter has colicky symptoms and your doctor is blowing you and your concerns off, by all means find another doctor. My son has acid reflux which does involve spitting up but there is another kind of reflux that involves no spitting up. I think it’s called silent reflux. Anyway, it certainly sounds like your daughter has similar symptoms to my son and I would find a pediatrician who is more responsive to your family’s needs. We went from doctor to doctor until we found one that listened to us and addressed our baby’s health. By the way, my son is on compounded Prilosec and he usually still screams around 3 or 4 in the morning. I’ve kind of assumed he’s trying to get acclimated to having dreams.

Apr 22, 2011

My son just started screaming at night.
by: Melissa

Well I have been having a problem with my 11month old son lately he doesn’t want to sleep in his crib, he screams when he wakes up, so fierce and loud that it sounds like someones beating him..I’m not kidding..

I live in a apt complex and i’m worried that his screaming at night might attract neg attention.So lately hes been sleeping in my bed and still when he wakes up between 1-4 o clock in the morning hes screaming bloody murder..and now when I tell him no or he doesn’t get his way hes screaming bloody murder.My boyfriend thinks its because i’m pregnant and I’ve been real moody lately that he senses it and is acting out on it…I do know that infants and young children can sense stress and when your angry even if your not showing it. So if anyone has any words of advice please feel free to comment…

Apr 24, 2011

re last post

by: Anonymous

Melissa, I think babies can sense stress, or maybe they are reacting to us differently because we are so stressed and are actually the ones acting differently.

Try to relax when you pick him up when he screams. Take a few deep breaths and tell yourself you can get through this.

Even in the worst moments this is your baby and he needs you. Always believe that whatever he is going through you are the one that he needs and know from someone who has had unexplained bad nights with their infant this too shall pass.

However, I would definitely mention this to your doctor. If it is a nightly thing, I would call the pediatrician immediately and set up an appointment to rule out any illness. I feel for your situation as I had sorta similar situation. But you will get through this with support from friends and family and your love of your baby. Keep believing in your own instincts as a mother. take care.

May 08, 2011

Pyloric stenosis
by: Anonymous

My son is 10 months old and he still wakes up throughout the night crying. He generally goes back to sleep after I feed him but this has turned into a bad habit. For all of you that have babies with upset stomachs I hope that pyloric stenosis has been ruled out. When my son was only a couple of months old he became very sick. Doctor after doctor told me it was reflux, which almost all babies have, and they put him on Zantac. I knew it was more than just reflux and finally one doctor listened to me and did an ultrasound. Sure enough he had pyloric stenosis, which was fixed with a quick little surgery and he was a lot better after that.

Aug 16, 2011

by: Anonymous

Could be teething. Some babies feel more pain when cutting teeth. Sometimes so bad with my daughter she would not eat or sleep well. Very difficult each and every tooth.

Oct 16, 2011

similar here…

by: NorthCyprusParents

our 1 yr. old daughter goes to sleep well and wakes up crying hysterically at around 5.30am…

she will cry heavily until we attend… of course us hoping she will nod off again we let her cry and twist and turn… works on occasion BUT not enough to catch up on some valuable sleep after long days…

once she has been attended to, she continues as if to say “what took you so long”… and as you try to make things better, she just gets worse…

we hope its something minor and she will grow out of it…

we usually go out on the terrace and get some fresh air, or use a dummy (pacifier!), water and then breakfast…

she usually calms down after a while BUT sometimes she just whinges all day… and working mummy just gets exhausted… 🙁

today for the first time, i tried to use a firm tone in my voice saying ” no Ayla, no crying ” and she stopped and hid behind mummy… and peeped through to see if i was still looking her way…

i really want to know the phenomenon behind our babies waking up and crying as if she has had bad dream…

i have heard of night terror BUT our daughter tends to wake up early in the morning… nothing during the night besides a toss and turn…

i just wish there was more information on this issue… there must be an explanation…

ok… teething… BUT why only at 5am !?

… and she normally calms quicker with mum… as she is attached to mummy more than daddy… (which contradicts the saying that daughters tend to be closer to daddy… but i guess that may change in time! :))

please add some links if you have more interesting information on this matter…

thanks and good luck to all parents with similar and other problems… 😉

Nov 25, 2011

my 5 month old!!
by: casey

lately my 5 month old has bee waking up out of his sleep screaming for the past 2 weeks n i feel bad cuz i have no clue what’s bothering him any ideas!! Please

Jan 03, 2012

by: Anonymous

my son is also 11 months and he has just started doing the same it scares me to death like his in pain or summit i would love to no whats causing this he used to sleep through but stopped when he fell ill i thought it was down to teething but he has cut his teeth =( x

Jan 03, 2012

Teething maybe?
by: Michelle

I have the same problem. My daughter is 16 months and will be 17 months in a couple days. She wont sleep. she has been waking up maybe three hours after i put her to bed and she woke up screaming like a deadly scream. and she keeps grinding her teeth. I’m not exactly sure whats wrong either.. It would be nice to have a solid answer to say what it is. I thought maybe it was something that had to do with her teeth but shes never had troubles teething before and shes has 12 teeth.

Jan 18, 2012

re last comment
by: Anonymous

Could be molars. Maybe never hurt before; these are worse. Especially if she is grinding, sounds like a teething issue.

Feb 15, 2012

Wakes Up Screaming.

by: Lauren

Hello, my 9 1/2 month almost 10 month old daughter does the same thing! But it hasn’t been as long. She has just started maybe about 1 or 2 months ago, almost an hour every time we put her down every night, she wakes up screaming, I’ll walk around with her and rock her and she still screams…my husband will take her and she’ll scream worse. Then I’ll take her back and sit on the couch in the living area, and she passes back out. She’ll sleep the rest of the night after that. Every night! I know it’s not a food allergy because I give her the same foods, it’s not reflux, well she does have it, but she’s on medicine for it. I honostly think it is either a night terror, because it occurs the same time everytime we lay her down, or it could be because when she wakes up her room is dark, but she does have 2 night lights. I think it could possibly be being afraid of the dark. It’s got to be one of those two. So needless to say, we have a well visit in a few days, I’m going to talk to my daughters pediatrician about it and see what he says. Cross our fingers…best of luck to you!

Mar 28, 2012

Similar Issues
by: Anonymous

My 10 month old has been doing this as well the past few weeks. She had done it a few months ago and but it got better. Now we’re back to her waking up screaming. She does down at night good. But then wakes up a few hours later screaming and arching her back. And it’s getting earlier and earlier after we put her down when she first wakes up. We’re not sure if it’s teething, an ear infection (no fever or cold), or something else. We don’t think it’s food allergies as she’s fine during the day. She does have a milk protein intollerance but we’re very careful to not give her any type of dairy. But we just don’t know what to do anymore either. And it breaks my heart when I try to console her and she continues to scream and cry until she tires out. Then it starts all over again a few hours later. Oh, and now she’ll only sleep upright, either on us or in her carrier :-/

Jan 24, 2013


by: Anonymous

wow my son is 18 months old n he wakes up screaming his poor lil head off i dont no wat to do it scares me

Jan 24, 2013

Night Terror
by: Paula (Easy Baby Life)


It can be night terror or night mares. You can check out this long thread about toddlers screaming in the middle of the night.

Best Paula

Feb 19, 2013

Antacids (Prilosec) causing bad dreams
by: Anonymous

I came across this thread while searching for info on the connection between prilosec and bad dreams. I just started a higher dose of Prilosec and have since had vivid dreams every night unlike anything I have ever had before. I am a 40 yo man and it’s disturbing to me. I can’t imagine how a small child might handle it. Anyway, for those posting who have small children on Prilosec or other similar acting drugs then I’m guessing that is the cause. For others with no medications then there must be something else going on. Just thought I’d post my observations.

Feb 22, 2013

Same thing
by: Lisa

My 11 month old is doing this same thing. Did you ever figure this out?

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