What if your 11-month-old wakes up screaming at night? The baby in the Q&A recently started this behavior, and we are trying to sort out why.

A lot of parents have added their thoughts or similar experiences too.

11-month-old wakes up screamingPin

Mom’s Question:

My daughter just turned 11 months. Lately, she has been waking up in the middle of the 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 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 a few nights later or so, she is back to screaming. I wouldn’t be so bothered by it if she woke up and went back to sleep, but she even cries in my arms or 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 the formula that is affecting her, but she acted this way on alimentum as well.

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


Possible Reasons When 11-Month-Old Baby Wakes up Screaming or Crying at Night

You seem to be having a tough time, and your daughter too! A few possible reasons come to my mind.

Acid reflux

I assume your daughter has been checked for acid reflux considering her medication? Acid reflux 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 head-end of the crib some 30 degrees to see if it helps.

It may also be that you should definitely discuss the medication with her doctor since it might need adjustment as she grows.

Night terrors or nightmares

While night terror usually occurs for babies older than 1 year, maybe that could be something your daughter has. If your baby seems to 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.

Don’t try to wake her up if you think it might be night terror. Just be there for her, talk to her gently, snuggle her, and wait for the terror to pass. If it comes on very regularly 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 wakes up and responds to you while screaming, she might have 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, cozy evening time to see if it helps.

Read more about night terrors and nightmares here.

Food Allergy or Intolerance

A third possible reason could be some food allergy, if, for example, your baby seems to have tummy pain and is very gassy or constipated. If you have recently introduced some new types of food, reverse that and see if it helps.


At her age, she could also be teething and thus in pain. Read about safe teething remedies here.

Reaction to her Medication

You mention that your baby gets Motrin before bed. I don’t know why this is, but one known side effect of Infant Motrin is tummy issues and abdominal pain. You can check out Motrin side effects here. (external link, opens in new window.)

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 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! :-)

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This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Lisa

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

  2. Tom

    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.

  3. Lucia

    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

  4. Pauline95

    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 :-/

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

    1. Tine

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

  7. Brita

    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

  8. 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

  9. CyprusParent

    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… ;)

  10. Reyna

    My 11 month old son has been keeping up all times through out the night , he used to sleep through the night or just wake up here and there but lately he’s been waking up just screaming so loud everyone in my house wakes up , he sounds as if someone’s hurting him or scaring him , I try patting his back and rocking him and giving him a bottle but he’d rather just cry and scream and I’m starting to become sleep deprived I have no idea what to do but it makes me cry because I’m not entirely sure how to help him idk if I should tell his doctor or try figuring it out

  11. Iryna

    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.

  12. Jana

    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.

  13. 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 someone is 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 has 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 when you are angry, even if you are not showing it. So if anyone has any words of advice please feel free to comment

    1. Nellie

      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.

  14. Ana

    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.

    1. mommi

      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.

  15. Vivi

    I believe a baby 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 their 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 am really against it. It is way more work, but like so many things in life, more work often pays off big time.

    When they are teenagers, they will remember the trust they have for you and that sense of value, which 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!

  16. 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. I am so against this coz it solves one problem and creates another. Babies dream about it and therefore they cry even in their sleep.

  17. stella

    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.

  18. Worried Mom

    I am having an issue with my daughter sleeping and this has been going on since she was born. At first it was colic due to a milk protein allergy so she was switched to a formula for that and still up most of the night screaming for hours. Now she is 15 months and can’t drink any milk we tried regular and after a couple of days of her screaming all night she refused to drink it and her face was broke out and red so we tried soy milk and the same thing happened. I even tried almond milk and she still screamed all night with her stomach hurting and her doctor at that time said she don’t need milk to live and just don’t give it to her instead give her juice.

    I have switched doctors 3 times already because i am tired of seeing my baby suffer. I have always thought from day 1 that she has a gastro problem or digestive problem but all doctors say give her gas drops and give her zantac and its not helping she still bloats at night and is up screaming most of the night. She will scream for a couple of hours before she finally goes back to sleep and that is me giving her tylenol but it only lasts for maybe 2 hours and she is back to screaming and curling up so i know its her stomach. She screams even when she lets out a fart like a fart is hurting her to release it and holding her doesn’t even help.

    The current doctor we are seeing had an x-ray done to check her colon and she was backed up so she put her on miralax and her poop was so runny and then turned to pure liquid so i took her back and the doctor told me to decrease the laxative to every other day but still my daughter is up all night screaming and she will let out one loud fart and scream horribly after that and only has 1 bowel movement a day and its runny not pure liquid but still runny.

    I am now out of options and feel that something is wrong maybe a blockage in the colon and its just going around it (pure liquid stools) or maybe a digestive issue or maybe even a gastro problem? I don’t know but it is getting very scary because my daughter is so small she weighed 17 lbs at 14 months when we went to the current doctor and once she started the laxative she began to eat better and gained up to 18 lbs but she still seems to be in pain and has slowed down on eating. She is now at 16.9 lbs for a 15 month old. Her dad is really small he weighs 110 lbs and is 32 years old so she could be small like he is but with her weight and the pain issue it worries me so much. Is anyone else having an issue like this with stomach pain and low weight? Oh and she was not a preemie she weighed 7 lbs 4.8 oz when she was born so she has barely doubled her weight. Sorry i forgot to include that.

    1. Paula @ EasyBabyLife

      This sounds horrible! Is she completely off milk protein now, as well as soy protein? A lot of children are allergic to soy when they are allergic to milk protein. How about screening for celiac disease? I know that can’t have been a cause of the problems when she was newborn, but it could be part of the problem. Another option I think you should discuss with the doctors if it hasn’t already been ruled out is Hirschsprung’s disease. It is a condition where the nerves are missing from a part of the bowel. This results in constipation, pain, low weight gain, difficulties to pass motion to mention some problems. The condition can be more or less serious and can often be solved through surgery or other treatments. You can read about it here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4420299/

      Don’t give up! Your daughter deserves a proper diagnosis and help. Keep a diary of what she eats and maybe even catch her behavior while in pain or while passing motion on film and show a pediatrician. Try to get hold of a specialist.

      I really wish you good luck. Please come back and let us know about your daughter’s development.

      1. Worried Mom

        I will never give up this is my baby and i will not stop until she is better, i took her to the doctor yesterday and her doctor gave her prilosec to take instead of zantac because she thinks it might be really bad acid reflux and prilosec is stronger than zantac but i would think if she farts she would get relief. Instead when she is doing this screaming she gets board straight trying to clinch then when she farts she starts screaming worse like that just killed her to do that and then she starts arching herself and rolling on her belly and she will scream for at least 2 hours before going to bed with tylenol and then a couple hours later shes awake screaming again. Her doctor also sent her for an xray of her colon again to check for a blockage but she just thinks its really bad acid reflux but i insisted we do a scan because i know something is wrong.

        Thank you for your concern and trying to help me, and i will keep you updated. I’ll try getting a video with my phone tonight to show the doctor because they see her and she is so happy during the day and just a normal little toddler but then night comes and its totally different. Which is why i was thinking a digestive problem because maybe her food isn’t digesting and then at night all that food is still setting in her stomach causing her pain.

        1. Paula @ EasyBabyLife

          I wish I could help you more. Catching it on video should at least be a help in communicating with the Dr. I wouldn’t have guessed reflux unless she is also throwing up, but the condition can be painful for sure. Will it help if you elevate the head end of her bed? If it is reflux, then that should reduce the pain a bit. Good luck again!

          1. Worried Mom

            i tried that when she was an infant up to just a couple of months ago. i have a crib wedge which elevates the mattress and she would always move to the end off of it and sleep flat so i finally took it out recently and put a pillow in there and she does the same thing she will move to the end and sleep flat so i thought well thats how she is comfortable. i have really bad acid reflux and i don’t throw up but the acid comes up through my throat and then goes back down so it could be that. I should be getting her results back from the xray sometime today so i will update you when i get that

  19. 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, it’s 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, or 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, and see if there were 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, the controversy of any kind from the old day)…

    on that note, your child could just 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

  20. Effie

    I have an 11-month-old as well that is waking 3-4 times per night and I certainly agree with the other comments. However, I believe you mentioned that you give your daughter Motrin every night?!?….This can cause tummy problems as well…Motrin has been known to be much more damaging to the stomach lining vs. Tylenol… I know the effects 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

  21. 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!

  22. natural mommy

    I don’t know why, but I will say that our 11-month-old suddenly started screaming 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 are miracles, you get them at food coops they are homeopathic, but we are not a family that usually uses homeopathic remedies so this was different for us.

    You don’t touch the tab as it is small, and they say it diminishes its potency; you shake 2-3 on a small baby spoon and put some water over the tabs to help dissolve 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!