J.K. asks from Langhorne, PA on September 29, 2008
Night Terrors - Langhorne,PA
I have almost 2 year old twins and lately my son has been waking up screaming in the middle of the night. My husband and I think he has night terrors. What can we do for him? He shares a room with his sister and they are both still in cribs. Tonight he started screaming the moment we put him in his crib. He also has a cold, so he is all stuffy. I don't know if this is related, but he gave up his binky about a month ago. Any advice on how to handle this would be greatly appreciated.
G.R. answers from Philadelphia on October 02, 2008
My brother-in-law suffers from night terrors. He actually has a website to help people understand what night terrors are about. The website is http://www.nightterrors.org/. My father-in-law also suffers from night terrors as well. They may be inherited. I hope this helps. Good luck. Take care. G. Richards
A.J. answers from Williamsport on September 30, 2008
Don't forget the 45 minute friend! (screaming 45 minutes after he goes to sleep) Many kids have this, my daughter had it, and now my 9 month old son is doing it. Let him self sooth, or he may develop a habit of crying more. This will pass!
M.L. answers from Erie on September 30, 2008
It's scary...my son is a little over 2 and he has them also. He thrashes around his bed, but he's still sleeping. what I do (and I'm not sure if this is really right or not) is I rub his back and talk real quietly in his ear to calm him down. Sometimes this does the trick and other times, I have to pick him up and just rub his back and rock him a bit. He never wakes up, but it's like doing that snaps him out of whatever he was dreaming and lets him go back to sleep. I never knew if you were supposed to wake them up or not, so that's what I've done. it seems to do the trick! Good luck!
K.L. answers from Erie on October 01, 2008
One of our twin boys went through a night crying jag at about the same age (luckily his brother seemed to not be too bothered by the screaming kid a few feet away from him). At first I tried to calm him, but that seemed to create a nightly habit. He'd wake up screaming at some time between midnight and 2:00 AM. After a few nights of letting him soothe himself back to sleep (very tough to do, I'll be the first to admit), he went back to sleeping through the night. We assume that it was based on some congestion from a minor cold he had, a few new teeth (the molars seem to take forever to come in) and just being "high maintenance". Unless there is something else concerning you, take hope that this too will pass :)
L.P. answers from Harrisburg on September 29, 2008
My son went through night terrors. My son started them around that same age as your son and they lasted off and on for a little over a year. UGH, I understand the frustration and pain you feel during this. The main thing I found that set his off was if he was overheated. Once I discovered that (it took a while), I made sure that he did not sleep with socks on or too many blankets. Another thing I did that helped during one was that I would put his feet in cold water or put a cold washclothes over his feet.
M.B. answers from Philadelphia on September 30, 2008
All three of my daughters have gone through night terrors, so I've done a fair amount of reading about them. With a night terror, the child usually appears awake (eyes open), but is really sort of stuck in one of the normal wake/sleep transitions that happens normally throughout the night. Usually they happen in the first three hours of sleep, and often they involve intense screaming, and frequently thrashing/kicking, etc. They may look right at you, but don't really see you. They do not remember them in the morning. (Just for comparisons, nightmares usually happen later in the night, the child is more asleep, and they often remember after waking or the next day.)
In many cases, night terrors are caused be a child being overtired. I know with all of my girls we saw/see the most night terrors when they go from 2 naps to 1 and when they give up napping all together. So you do want to make sure your son is getting as much sleep (and on a regular schedule) as he needs. Obviously there will be times like the nap transitions or illness where you can't help them getting a little overtired, but just do your best.
It seems that what works best depends on the child, but you do not want to wake them. It seems from the other responses that some kids do like to be held, but that always seemed to freak mine out more (again, unlike with nightmares). One of mine would respond well to you calming and quietly repeating, "It's OK, it's OK" over and over. For the others we sometimes just had/have to put them on the carpet so they didn't get hurt with the thrashing around. With one of mine, while I didn't physically wake her, when she would start winding down I would calmly say, "(her name), mommy needs you to wake up now" and that would sometimes help her come to. Generally the stop very suddenly, and then you can just tuck them back in and they go soundly to sleep.
For what it's worth, I do not think the time your son cried right when you put him in the crib was a night terror - more likely related to the cold or a possible ear infection, so I would check with the doc if that continues. A good book for sleep reference is Jodi Mindell's "Sleeping Through the Night" - it does have a sleep training component, which you may or may not agree with, but it also has some really good info to help understand sleep and sleep problems more.
S.W. answers from Harrisburg on September 30, 2008
1. if its cool enough (wont work in july) probably now it will start working - take them outside - straight from crib to outside - the cold should "jolt" them from them if they are indeed night terrors - if they are nightmares then you should be able to wake them no trouble in side - another thing aboutnight terrors to remember is ALOT of the time they will come out of them but not fully wake up - just sort of go back to a "normal" sleep pattern without being awake - they also will most likely not remember it in the am.
2. (this is great for croup - and night time stuffyness) when they wake - even if its not fully like mentioned earlier - then immediately start a HOT shower - dont turn on the fan - let the steam start to fill the bathroom - and then take your child into the shower with you - you dont even need to be actually under the water - if you are in the shower stall with the curtain pulled and the steam going (you can keep the lights off) it can clear their croup/stuffyness up - along with get them calmed down from night terrors.
another thing to do in conjunction with everything else - is start to keep a bedtime diary - there may be something triggering this that you can pinpoint - and it may not be anything you changed either - my daughter - now 8 - had them when she was little and just moving her crib further away from heating duct helped - things liek that
hopefully that helps - let us know how it works out.
D.B. answers from New York on September 30, 2008
Have you tried burning a night light for him? Sometimes boys go through this at about your son's age, although I have no idea why.
My son had night terrors as well, for a while, and we solved the problem by burning a night light for him, and also by having the sort of baby monitor in his room that allowed me to both hear him, and talk to him, without having to actually go in there. Between tht two, he seemed to understand that we were near, and that he was safe and not alone.
Also, since he is sick right now, you might want to consider offering him his paciifier back during the overnight hours. He may find it very comforting, just until he begins to feel better.
A.P. answers from Pittsburgh on September 30, 2008
My son did the same thing. Its very nervewrecking because it doesn't feel logical that we cannot really do anything for them. I would just want to pick him up and hold him but that didn't work at all. You kind of just have to let it ride out. One thing I am pretty sure was connected to at least some of them was being off his schedule. For example: getting home late where he would fall asleep in the car and then be transferred to bed always seemed to set him off.
Good luck...my son is 4 now and hasn't had one in a while.
L.H. answers from Pittsburgh on September 30, 2008
If he had a cold, he might have an ear infection, you should get that checked out. If the night time screaming isn't related to the cold, then it may be night terrors.
Do you notice any kind of pattern? What happened during the day? Was he overly tired? Did something traumatic happen? I don't know if you let them watch tv or dvd's, but you might want to not let them right before bed. Something he is seeing or hearing may be frightening or merely over stimulating. Also don't give him food to close to bed time or play very active games.
My oldest dd had them. She also walked in her sleep. The only thing that would comfort her was to hold her until she calmed down. She didn't seem to be awake fully, and never remembered anything the next morning. She out grew the night terrors quickly, but still continued to walk in her sleep until a few years ago. She is now 17 years old. She never remembered the sleep walking the next day either, but sometimes she would wake up in the living room and wonder how she got there. Thankfully she never left the house while sleep walking.