Baby Crying In Sleep – Why Do They Whimper?

Last Update: 1st January 2021

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Alas, babies don’t come with an instruction manual on how to keep them safe and/or nurture them.  If only, right?

It would be so easy to just flick to that baby sleep schedule section and look right on under Baby Crying in Sleep.   Solved!

But no, it’s not that easy I’m afraid.

Let me explain.

For most parents, restful sleeping routines are merely a matter of trial and error.

That said however if you want to give yourself a higher chance of success then there are some guidelines that can help.

And by help, I mean you and the baby.  We all need sleep.

So let’s get to it.

First up.


Babies simply and naturally make more noise in their sleep than adults.

Your baby is making noise while sleeping isn’t really anything that you should concern yourself with.

There is a thing called a “startle reflex” or Moro Reflex which babies do while in a deep and restful sleep.

They make noise and even do a form of jerking movement.

Simply put, nothing to be alarmed about.

It’s all natural. 


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The average amount of time a newborn spends sleeping in their first month is approximately 16 hours a day.

But that’s just an average number.

my baby whimpers in its sleep/>Babies can vary in their sleeping needs from as low 12 hours a day, and up to 20 hours, all in their first month.

There’s no hard and fast rule book.

To decide, you’ll simply need to follow your intuition by looking at responding to your baby.

  • Do they seem happy and healthy?
  • Do they love naps?
  • Have you checked your baby’s temperature ?  (as an FYI: check out our review of the most accurate baby thermometers )

Just go along with it.

You only need to concern yourself if they’re showing any symptoms of un comfort or signs of distress.


Look we all know that babies feed regularly, that’s a given.

But not overfeeding at these intervals is key.

Their small bellies which simply do not have the volume to ingest a higher volume of nutrition at once must be cared for and allowed to develop.

Be mindful of this.

Whether you’re breast feeding him or simply offering nutritious baby meals, you will need to feed your infant every two to four hours on a regular basis during the first month.

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restful baby and motherPoint to note: If at this age your baby manages to sleep for say five hours or more without waking or crying for a feed?

Then consider yourself lucky, that my friend is a full night sleep session for them.

The problem which occurs with meal cycles is in the difficulty of determining if your baby is simply making whimpering sounds or if it’s truly hungry.

Most of the times, when hungry they will give you a clear notice with either a plethora of noise or a loud cry.

However, if they haven’t truly woken or if sound indecisive to you and you simply cannot determine if it’s feeding time or not, you are simply going to have to trust your parental intuition.

A little bit of trial and error to get into your rhythm with each other may be called for at this stage.


So has anyone actually recorded a baby sleeping peacefully and quietly for hours on end without any interruptions?

Nah, didn’t think so!

Let’s get back to reality folks.

It is highly natural for babies to wake up and whimper before going back to sleep on a regular basis.

This is especially true during the first two to three months of their lives.

This is due to the fact that half of their sleep time is spent deep the REM phase (Rapid Eye Movement).

It is only natural for them to briefly wake up after that phase is finished and then fade back to sleep again.

As time passes, their sleeping cycles and phases will naturalize, and they will be spending less and less time in REM sleep and much more in actual deep and quiet sleeping mode.

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Are you hearing your baby whimper and groans, and seeing your baby roll around on your Motorola baby monitor and wondering whats going on?

Newborns make noises in their sleep due to their still-in-development breathing control centre in the brain.

On average, the number of intakes of air and exhales of a newborn is 40 breaths a minute while awake.

This does however usually slows down 30% while sleeping.

noisy sleeperSometimes (and this is the time when parents get unnecessarily alarmed) babies will go as low as 15 to 20 of deep intakes and exhales of breaths a minute, and then even stop breathing for up to 10 seconds.

Even though it might seem like an eternity to you, it is absolutely natural and not a reason for an alarmed emotional distress.

Keep it together team!

To simplify some of my points in the article;

Here are some a note of some normal and abnormal respiratory sounds newborns make.

Normal respiratory sounds include:

  • The Rattle: As babies gather up mucus in their tiny nose much more than adults and it can cause some breathing problems.

These problems are easily solved by a proper appliance of a baby nasal aspirator.

  • The Whistle: Babies breathe exclusively through their nose (an evolutionary trait as it allows them to eat and breathe at the same time).

But as we know that the ear, nose and throat system are an intertwined “entity” and it can clog.

As air exhales it from the nose of the baby, it can produce a “whistling” sound.

Nothing to worry about.

Abnormal respiratory sounds include:

  • Rapid breathing: if your baby is breathing up 70 intakes and exhales of breath a minute.
  • Grunting Baby Syndrome: Persistent grunts usually means that there’s a clog that the baby is unable to naturally get rid of in order to continue to breathe properly.
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Make sure to rule out any sort of silent infant reflux issues though.

  • Retractions: Muscles related to the breathing cycle such as the ones on the chest and neck are contracting more intensively than they should.

Worth a watch


I hope that the information provided, along with the linked references give you some insight into understanding why our wonderful little bundles emit the noises they do!

We are all students here so try not to get overly stressed, stay relaxed and let the tell-tale signs along with your parental intuition guide you.

Get some rest!

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Beta Dad

I'm the Beta Dad father to a 4-year-old and husband. I'm the blogger at BetaDadBlog.Com & I'm here distilling my thoughts and experiences as I navigate parenthood. Read more About Me here

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