Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Night Terrors

Something alarming is happening to my child at night; he wakes up (usually around midnight) breaks out of his room, screams and runs up to me (I am passed out on the couch at this time) freaking out as if he has been battling with monsters with three heads.

I try to calm him down, I put him on my chest and hug him tight. Sometimes this works and he falls asleep after some effort on my part, and sometimes he is too shaken up to calm down.

My son's pediatrician told me that this could be considered night terrors.

As far as I understand them, night terrors appear effect babies and toddlers in this way:

--the child is startled by a scary dream
--he/she starts freaking out but is not actually awake
--By freaking out I mean physically shaking, arms (and possibly legs) flailing about and screaming

When I saw my son experience night terrors for the first time, I was alarmed and had no idea what to do. This article says that you should not try to restrain your child if they have night terror. Personally, I find this advice hard to follow. When I see my son in distress I want to help him.

Has anyone ever experienced this with their child? What did you do?


  1. I haven't had this trouble but perhaps if you passed out within arm's reach of Ari's bed it might help. that way he would see you right away.

  2. Funny that you say that, Dunky. I have started sleeping on the couch in the living room for just that reason! That way, when he makes his prison break from his room I am right there! Great minds think alike ;)

  3. We had a couple of night terrors with my daughter, and I have no great answers from that experience. We did the only thing I think we could do. We both offered the support and comfort that we could, and she eventually went back to a calm sleep none the wiser. We didn't restrain her, but we did hold her and being present helped.

    Night terrors are awful, although mostly for parents. The kids don't even remember them.

  4. I feel like restraining just makes it so much worse. But you're right. There is really nothing you can do, I suppose. Support and comfort sound about right.

    Thanks Amber!

  5. We have gone through night terrors with our oldest since 16 months and he is now 8yo! It is scarey, and very trying, but in general is it s a time when a child is mainly over tired and they get stuck between the first two cycles of sleep. We go through it alot around the holidays, and summer time. It will pass for months on end, and then rear it's ugly head as we enter a growth spert. I find holding them works, or just repeating that you are there for them. It is NOT good to wake them completely and most of the time they do not remember that it even happened. Good luck and email or DM me if you want more info.

  6. It's so good to know that I'm not alone! Thanks JRomamma! I will email you ;). Today he woke up at 4am screaming again. Ah the joys of motherhood.


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