14 answers

Night Terrors? or Something Else?

My son (20 monhts old) woke up lastnight at three o clock screaming like he's never screamed before and jerking his whole body. He wasn't siezing (I know what siezures look like) he was totally lucid for the most part, took a second to recognize me, but it was 3 AM. So I bundled him up and brought him in the bedroom,I checked his temperature and he was at about 102, he nursed, we gave him tylenol and fell asleep again. Then at about 4:15 or so he woke up again, whole body jerking and screaming. He knew it was me, he was lucid - not siezing - but jerking - like a startle reflex. But more severe. So I bundled him up and called the doctor who also didn't think it was a siezure. His temp went down to about 99 and once awake, he was jabbering like normal.

I read on Ask Dr. Sears that night terrors can be caused by being over tired (which he was) and in combination with the fever, the jerking might have been chills and fear related. But I wondered if any of you other moms' kids have experienced this. We were terrified, and he's sleeping now but I'm afraid he's going to wake up like that again...

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

ADDENDUM: OK So after reading up a little more, I'm thinking that Brighton was having Febril Seizures or "fever fits" or at least the beginning of them. I guess they can be triggered by a sudden increase in body temp. He didn't have an all out seizure, but he did have the precursers of twitching. So if we would have just left him, he probably would have had a seizure. He may have been having night terrors as well. Now he's getting inflamed gums and has a blister on his lip and some on his tongue with a low grade fever. He's still not feeling well, but I'm hoping we're out of the woods and he's just got a cold sore from his body being so stressed. And, I'm considering changing doctors. If I can recognize these symptoms in 5 minutes from reading a book, she should have recognized them for sure. He did end up with a fever lastnight but when I called them, they told me to let them know if he has a fever at the end of the week. I'm just disgusted with them at this moment because I don't feel like Brighton's care was taken very seriously, nor was my instinct. And I don't have time for that and I'm surely not going to risk my son's health for it.

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He's the right age for night terrors to begin. His imagination is growing and he can become more afraid at night. The fever could have caused the bad dreams too. I wouldn't worry. It doesn't always last very long. Good luck.

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could he be teething, because that can cause both fevers and if the pain bothers him enough that could be setting him off. My daughter started working on her 2 year molars at about 20 mos and it would come and go for about 4 mos. the jerking sounds like a effect from the high fever.

I know what you are talking about. My son who is going on 3, he does the same thing. I have to almost pour water on him to get him to quit screaming. It usually happens when I am by myself and my husband is gone. The only thing I can do to help him with out drenching us is to just hold on tight and pray for him to wake up. His eyes are open but does not recognize any one. It has happened to us in a hotel where I thought I was going to have the cops outside my hotel room. I am always thinking that everytime I hear him cry it will be a night terror but it is like you said only when he is overly tired/overstimulated. I never had any trouble with my daughter who is 4 yrs older. He will not take a nap either. So I just try not to over stimulate him. I have never had him do it when he had a fever. One time my husband was home when it happened and he tried to hold him but he was fighting it and he asked my what should he do I said to let him go down on the floor and kick and scream and he did and about 2 minutes later he quit and we rocked him and he was asleep for the rest of the night. You are not alone with night terrors and I hope this helped you out.

He's the right age for night terrors to begin. His imagination is growing and he can become more afraid at night. The fever could have caused the bad dreams too. I wouldn't worry. It doesn't always last very long. Good luck.

How weird that you would ask about this! My daughter is 20months old and just last night she woke with a fever at Midnight, not sure how high, the battery is out in my thermoter, but she was hot. I gave her some Motrin, and put her in our bed, and she kept waking on and off for the rest of the night, crying and siting up......

I was wondering what was going on too. I am sorry I don't have any advise, just wanted to let you know, that you are not the only one going through this.

I have a 6 year old son who since infancy has been having night terrors. They come fewer and fewer now that he is older, but about once every two to three months he'll have one. He wakes up in the night screaming and terrified, jerking and shaking. The last one he had was about 1.5 month ago, he woke us up screaming, we went in to his room and he didn't even see us, as the same with all the other ones. He was looking right at us, but he was somewhere else. And terrified. Kept looking at the ceiling hiding from whatever it was that was after him. As a parent to see your child go through this and there's nothing you can do to help until he wakes up, this is very scary, and just plain eerie. I don't know really what causes them, or if there is any relief from them. But I do know what you are going through.

We also have two daughters, one is 5, she has NEVER had anything like this. Hardly ever dreams and she has never awakened screaming. Our baby girl is 11 months old and she has had a few screaming spells in the night, just waking up in the middle of the night screaming. SO I guess it's possible that she is taking after her brother. We are hoping it will not be as severe as his. Anyway, this reply probably doesn't help much, other than to know you are not alone with this. If you'd like to talk further about this or anything else, email me!! ____@____.com

Are you sure that it wasn't seizures (they can look different in different people-plus sometimes kids have them when they have a fever...) But it could be night terrors too...My son has had some of them where he screams and I can't get him to calm down...I was told it was best not to wake him...thats all I know...:)

Hi, My name is H. and I am a stay at home mom also I have two kids one Katrina is 5 years and Jasmine 1 year old. My 5 year old has had night terrors for 4 1/2 years now and if you would like to know anything about them as I have done alot of research on this, just give me a message and I will get beck to you.my email is ____@____.com

They sound like night terrors related to the fever. My daughter has them when she falls asleep on the couch. She is kind of a high strung girl and they started when my husband was deployed to Iraq. She wakes up looking for me and will fight me when I try to calm her down. They are scary because you feel helpless and your child looks terrified. Keep in mind that they don't remember them, so they are scarier for you than for the child. She is older than yours, she is 4. What has helped us is a strict bedtime routine. We put her to bed at the same time every night and go to bed and say a prayer for good dreams, then she lists the things she wants to dream about and then we say God bless daddy and keep him safe. We also got her a dream catcher for her room and we talked about what it does. She went to having them 2-3 times a week to maybe once a month. She will still have one if she falls asleep before we get the routine done. Good luck. I don't know if this will help because yours is so much younger than mine, but as you can see from your responses it seems to be a fairly common problem which I didn't know.

it does sound like your son is having night terrors. but he also could be over tired. try having some wind down/cuddle time before he goes to sleep that could help.

Night terrors are not much fun. My youngest son has had them since he was about a year old, now he's 3 and gets them less often. The worst part about his for me is that he keeps screaming out my name even though I'm holding him. Ussually his last 5-10min. and gets more of them if he's over tired or sleeping away from home. He is completely unaware when he's haeving them. But, when he finally wakes up he climbs right back into bed and falls asleep, like it didn't even happen.

They sound like night terrors my son has had them since he was 3 weeks old (he is now 16 months)his were extensive we had 7-13 a night and they are very violent to watch and your not to wake them up. They are not aware of what is going on they do increse if a child is tired or due to fevers or illnesses and also if they have sugar in their system before going to bed. Just make sure they are in a safe inviorement so they do not hurt themself. If you do feel the need to bring a child out of a night terror take them out into the cool night air and that tends to calm them. They are a very scary thing for a parent and most people do not understand them and get them confused with nightmears this is not what they are. Normally childern that are above average in intelgeance have them due to they have a tough time slowing their minds down. I wish you the best of luck...

I think that they are just night terrors!! My daughter has them also, but she is really hard to wake up from them. Sometimes it will take me 20 min or so to get her awake. But in our case they happen most when she is really tired or when she is getting sick!! I hope that they stop for your little guy soon thought, because they are not fun!

It does sound like Night Terrors, and they can be scary. Once my son walked from his room into mine and came to my side of the bed before he started screaming his head off. (that might be an example of my terror too hehe) Since you know what a seisure is, and as long as its not that, you are doing great. You should just gently wake him or talk him thru it. My sister's kids wouldnt recognise her, so it could be worse. Yeah they are much fun, but as long as you know they are doing ok, I wouldnt worry to much. I think the fever is just they get so worked up. Hopefully it will pass quickly for you and remember they out grow it. If he doesnt have a nite lite, not that I am recommending them, but it might help. Good Luck!

I would assume that it was night terrors. My son gets them when he is more stressed about something, infact, oddly enough he had one last night. When we were going through potty training(which we are still doing but in the end stage) he was having the off and on. Then when the toliet ran over with him on it, well, we had many weeks of night terrors. It might have been the fever, made a nightmare to a night terror, and caused the shaking. They usually do go away, and most all of the time the child never remembers them, just the parent. Yippee for us! I hope your night goes smoother tonight!

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