Night Terrors

Christine - posted on 05/20/2010 ( 25 moms have responded )

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My son (20 months) is having what I think might be night terrors. He cries out in the night and if we try to pick him up he pushes us away, just thrashes around like crazy and just cries and cries. He won’t let us comfort him and it’s a bit scary to me. Is this normal? It can take him anywhere from 10-20 minutes to come out of this. Anyone have any suggestions on how to deal with this? Is it better to just let him cry it out or try to wake him? My daughter never did this. It really freaked me out last night.

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Normal.

The best thing we found to do (our son is 20 months to). Is just go into the room and talk to him and not try to pick him up.

Generally I sit in the rocking chair beside his bed until he starts to calm down or he gets out of bed and tries to get into my lap himself. Then you know he is awake.

What's happening is that he is not awake (even if he appears to have his eyes open) while he is having a bad dream. It is normal as their minds are so busy learning and processing coupled with their imaginations makes for some night mares.



We found trying to wake him made him more upset and harder to settle back down.

Neither my husband or I were comfortable just leaving him in his room by himself like that, so we opted for sitting beside him and talking comfortingly to him until he showed some sign of being aware of his surroundings.



They can have this happen as many times as 2-3 times a night. Our son did that the first night he started with Night Terrors. Now is happens about once a week and getting less. He started having them at 18 months.



Here's hoping they out grow them soon!

Christine - posted on 05/27/2010

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I'm glad it has been helpful for you Tiffany. It's helped me too. It freaked me out when it first started to happen as my daughter never did this (although she is a great sleeper). My son isn't a great sleeper. We try to keep his routine as normal and regular as we can, but he just wakes up and cries out a lot and it's hard to make sure he gets enough sleep. I never thought about this maybe being a sleep issue. But I guess we can just try to be as regular as possible. And that's the best I can do. He hasn't has a night terror in over a week now. So, I hope it's passed or only going to be an occasional thing now. But it does comfort me to know that this is normal and it's not like he's crazy or something is wrong with him. It sure was scary the first few times it happened though. I'm not used to my babies crying and not being able to comfort them.

Suzanne - posted on 05/26/2010

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Try doing some research on what prevents night terrors. I did read a sleep expert make comments on children's night terrors, this is what I remembered she recommended:
1. children with night terrors tend to go to bed too late and are overly tired, recommended putting them to bed earlier
2. Have a proper bedtime routine to calm the child well before they go to sleep
3. Make sure they are not getting any caffeine during the day (I was surprised how many small children they said were being given coffee, teas and soda which all contain caffeine and contribute to night terrors).
That's all I remember! Hope that helps.

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Claire - posted on 06/08/2010

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i got a 21 month old who is going through the same thing ( he has been like it since december), the only way he wud settle is if the other half goes and sleeps with him, he wud wake up screaming and going red in the face, he wud stand by his gate as if he is trying to escape as if he has saw something. we took him to the health visitor and she said he is to young to have night terrors as they start in children from the age of 3 or 4. is this true.

Hema - posted on 06/06/2010

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My daughter is 20 month old as well and we have also experienced her night terrors. Initially we just freaked out when she was crying out loud, suddenly in the mid of the night. This happened more than once. When her dad tried to comfort her she pushed him away and continued screaming louder. Then I took her in my arms (forceably) and spoke to her softly. I tell her things like, "dont worry mummy is with you, nothing will happen" or something else similar to this, then she slowly calms down, hugging me and goes back to her snores. But I never noticed the pattern in which she gets these terrors. After reading several posts here I've learnt that it happens due to sleep deprivation and so will observe my daughters schedule henceforth.

Zoe - posted on 06/04/2010

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My daughter is 21 months and has been doing similar things since she was 12 months old. She could be screaming for an hour doing strange things and going stiff, sometimes it gets real scary and looks as if she is posessed and she will be shouting 'mammy' as if i wasn't there. occasionally i have picked her up and tried to comfort her but she used to push me away or not want you to touch her. Now i tend to leave her and talk to her untill she has calmed down which is when she will want a cuddle etc before trying to settle her back down but can sometimes take a while, The best thing is to try and keep calm although it can be difficult x

Jennie - posted on 06/04/2010

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My son is 20 months and at about a year he started having what I think are terrors or what I have also heared is night tremmors. What I have done is just make sure he can't hurt him self, keep silent until he clams down, and just wait until he wants me to pick him up. I noticed he only had them if he slept bad the pervious night and didn't take a nap that day. I read that if they don't have enough sleep that it could trigger a terror. He hasn't had one in a while, hopefully it fades out soon for yours. Good luck

Kristel - posted on 06/03/2010

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my son is 20 months too and there are nights when he does this as well it scares me as well but i just let him cry it out until he calms down. best thing is not to try and wake him up from this or try to hold him as it wud make it even worse that's what i've noticed.

Tamera - posted on 06/03/2010

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You aren't the only one going thru this my son is the same age and also has an older sister so you aren't the pnly one going thru this

Greer - posted on 06/02/2010

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My middle son went through night terrors too at this age and was triggered by having cheese at dinner time. It took a while to work this out though. He grew out of it by the time he was about 2. It is very scary to watch but rest assured they don't remember. My son settled by us holding, rocking, and also reassuring him but not waking him. He would eventually flop back into his cot. Good luck.

Leah - posted on 05/31/2010

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My daughter is also 20 months and she has had night terrors since she was 8 months.... She use to get them often but i started playing music for her at night and she dn't have them as often... Wgen she does have them though i just go in the room with her and stand next to her bed and just shh her quitely and tell her it's alright and let her know im there and there is nothing to worry about... it seems to work pretty well because she calms down with in 5 mins... good luck trying to figure something out

Amy - posted on 05/30/2010

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My little guy (also 20 months) has done something similar but I attribute it to when he is teething, so it is more that I think he is in pain than scared. He does babble in his sleep though, but nothing like what you describe. Hopefully it won't last long, and he will go back to regular sleeping soon.

Brittany - posted on 05/30/2010

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My son was having the same issues....& we as well were able to determine it was related to sleep deprivation. He was having a really hard time with his afternoon naps (trying to exclude them altogether) no matter what I'd do.

I went to my local library & checked out a book recommended by our city's hospital called Sleeping Through the Night by Jodi A. Mindell Ph.D. So far this book has had many tips concerning everything from night terrors, co sleeping (& how to get your toddler in their own bed), sleep disorders, behavioral issues....you name it, it's pretty much there. I highly recommend this book to anyone going through this! :)

Kelly - posted on 05/29/2010

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yes. My son (19 months old) has done this from time to time. My husband and I really freaked out when this first occurred because it is scary. Our son always calmed down when we picked him up and walked around with him, then we would sometimes bring him in the living room to get him out of there. Although he would be sitting up, screaming, and crying in his crib when we walked in so he was fully awake. lt may work out better if the circumstances were different then we may have to use Nicole's approach. Good Luck next time!

LaQuinta - posted on 05/29/2010

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Every now and then she makes crying out noise in her sleep. Its never last more that a second. I thought it was bad dreams not night terrors.

Tara From - posted on 05/29/2010

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My daughter often cries in her sleep but she doesn't really thrash around and it usually only lasts 30 seconds or so but she sometimes does it a few times a night. I don't know if they would be considered night terrors or not.

Jacqueline - posted on 05/28/2010

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My daughter is also 20mos and has had a few night terrors. She has only had a few really bad episodes where she was screaming and thrashing about, but she often cries in her sleep. Sometimes when she is just crying I go in and give her a small amount of a drink in her cup and it seems to calm her down.


I never really thought about sleep deprivation as a possibility, I've always had a strict routine for her but most night she would cry or scream herself to sleep (she was tired but still carried on). And I have noticed now when she does cry herself to sleep she is crying in her sleep more too.

Her doctor also said she will grow out of it. But I'm glad I'm not the only one!!!

Karen - posted on 05/28/2010

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My son is 21 months old and started having night terrors a few months ago, often screaming for up to 40 minutes. He has always had a good routine and has never had issues with going to bed at a set time. When it started happening during his day nap I went to a naturopath. We cut out dairy and he has been on supplements and herbal drops. As soon as we started seeing her the night terrors stopped. We think it was a magnesium deficiency as he has been on magnesium/calcium tablets and we also think the drops have helped. We are reintroducing dairy to totally rule it out, but the night terrors have stopped. I know how awful it is when they scream and thrash about during a night terror, so we are relieved that our son isn't having them now. A naturopath might not work for everyone, but it's worth trying - I don't know where we would be without mine! I hope this helps and good luck!

Heather - posted on 05/28/2010

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My daughter started this around a year old, there is a history of it in the family. From all i have researched you cannot wake a child thats having a night terror, you just have to wait.... i still like to hold my daughter until she wakes up. its a very scary thing to watch but I hear they grow outta it and I havent had to deal with one in awhile! Best of luck I hope you find what works best for your son!

Tonya - posted on 05/27/2010

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My 20 months old has been doing this every now and then for the last few months. I starting realizing that every time she had one, she lacked a nap earlier in the day or stayed up too late. Now I try and stay on her schedule as much as possible. Ive talked to our pediatrician as well. He agreed that its mostly due to being over tired. There isnt much you can do. In my experience, every time we've tried to comfort her, it made it worse and prolonged the episode. I just sit there, sometime I will softly speak to her, but thats it. Glad to know so many other parents are experiencing this. Ive never heard of a child doing this, nightmares-yes, night terrors NO. My mother said most children this age go through this, I guess she was right :)

Tiffany - posted on 05/27/2010

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hi my little boy is also getting what seems to be night terrors i never thought that it may be this until i read the conversation so it has helped me to lol x with him he seems to get them maybe once or twice a week and he has a set bedtime and routine before hand, he also has a sleep in the day i have tried to hold him but he seems to get worse and lashes out at me and himself. Things seem to settle down for a few weeks the come back again this started about 2/3 months ago.
I hope the problem resolves its self for you and this convo has been very helpful x

Sara - posted on 05/25/2010

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my son is 20 months and he all so has night terrors when he starts to cry i go in to his room to make sure he is ok i find when i go in to his room he is still asleep but crying in his sleep .. what helps for me is i put his muiscial on and i stay in his room untill he stops crying i allso tell him that mummys hear and every ting is ok i know he does not really under stand but i fined when i talk to him it carmes him down and i am told he will grow out of it ...

Christine - posted on 05/21/2010

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I hadn't thought about sleep deprivation. We are pretty strict on bedtime as much as possible. He's had a cough lately though and hasn't been sleeping well. So, he probably is tired and maybe that is adding to this. It didn't happen last night so maybe it will just be an occasional thing. I hope so!

Rozalyn - posted on 05/21/2010

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This is really normal. My son has had two episodes of night terrors. The 2nd time, he was gasping for breathe so I actually took him to the ER to make sure he was ok. The doctor said it's perfectly normal and the breathing was just part of his episode. Night terrors are usually triggered by sleep deprivation. Try to keep a strict bed time routine. Do not wake him up if he has a night terror! Kids do not remember their night terrors, so they do not associate fear with going to sleep. The doctor told me that if you wake them up, they have a better chance at remembering what happened. Really all you can do is sit in his room while it is happening to make sure he doesn't hurt himself. It's so scary and so hard to just let your kid go through it!
Oh, and both times my son had night terrors, he was up about 3 hours past his normal bed time...so I totally believe that it was triggered from sleep deprivation.

Christine - posted on 05/21/2010

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thanks Nicole. makes me feel better to know other people have this and it's normal. really freaked me out. I also don't feel comfortable just staying in my bed while he's doing this. I fear he will hurt himself since he thrashes around so badly. I did find it made him more upset if I tried to pick him up. This did start about 2 months ago for us as well and then seemed to go away. Now it's back. I hope as time goes on it will be less and less. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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