V.V. asks from Dublin, OH on December 10, 2008
My 9 month old baby who usually sleep through the night (9:30pm to about 6am) has been waking up in the middle of the night sometimes 2 or 3 times SCREAMING!! I mean, not the usual I'm hungry or hold me cry, but the some one is doing something to me, I'm scarred SCREAM! It stratles us awake and uaully takes one of us getting up and soothing him for a minute before he goes back to sleep. Do any of yours do this? What should I do? I think they are nightmares, but I don't know how to help. I have been getting up with him every hour or two all night long and I am exhausted!!
S.E. answers from Chicago on December 11, 2008
I think I would see the doctor about this. It may be something inside him that is waking him up. i mean physically.
L.I. answers from Chicago on December 10, 2008
I remember my son doing the same thing. He did it on 2 seperate nights and let me tell you he woke up screaming and shaking to the point where I couldnt calm him down and I was so scared I almost called 911. About a week later we noticed his first teeth poking through. To this day we think his teeth were bothering him but we will never know for sure. Does your son have teeth yet? Maybe try some motrin before he goes to bed and see if that helps. If they are nightmares hopefully it stops for you but all I can think of is to just get up with him if he is scared and hopefully they will stop. Good luck
W.P. answers from Chicago on December 11, 2008
Babies that young can get both nightmares and night terrors which are different. I would look in your baby book, whatever you are using for info on your child's ages and stages and they should talk about the difference. The "terrors" are scarier because the child seems totally out of it and doesn't even recognize you. They don't fully wake up when you go to them and it is just strange. My child had some of each. I also had nightmares my entire life so I get it. Your child is probably going to be the highly imaginative type who visualizes easily and may be a bit more sensitive then your average person. He may be experiencing some extra stress and this is how his little mind is processing it. Keep in mind that stress for a baby that age could be anything from changes in his environment to sickness or teething or just the pangs of growth and development. Also if you are stressed out he may be picking up on that. Just keep calm and sooth him and help him feel safe. If is is a night terror don't try to wake him up. Help him feel safe and put him back to sleep. (I got mine over his by putting him to bed with me and they quickly disappeared...I was getting zero sleep and he needed the security. That may not work for you but it might help if you are willing to go that route.) Best of luck.
M.M. answers from Chicago on December 11, 2008
I agree with the person who told you about night terrors vs. nightmares. My oldest had night terrors - generally, you can't comfort your child when he/she has terrors - they appear to be awake, but they are frantic. It's super hard as a parent to not be able to comfort your child.
I recommend that you jot down details and call your doctor. Could be nightmares, emerging tooth, gas or something else. Keep asking if the answer doesn't seem right and this continues. Good luck!
M.K. answers from Chicago on December 14, 2008
Hi V.. It's so hard to really know what's going on, since he can't talk yet. Nightmares don't typically start until close to age 3. That's when children start to "fear" things...and their imaginations take over from there! As for night terrors, I'm attaching the information I have learned from my own research. My daughter had episodic night terrors when she changed rooms at 14 months old. But since your son is waking like this every hour to two hours, I would speak to your Pediatrician and rule-out phyiscal issues (teething, acid reflux, etc.) That seems too frequent to be night terrors...but you never know.
The difference between a night terror and a nightmare is that a Night Terror only happens during non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. We do not dream during non-REM sleep (it's our "deep sleep"), so a child having a night terror is NOT dreaming. Research indicates that Night Terrors happen during the first third to half of the night, when the majority of non-REM sleep is occurring.
Since you can't really tell if a child is in REM or non-REM sleep, you'll have to just judge his behavior. Personally, I think it sounds like a night terror. Since he is not dreaming during a Night Terror, there will be no memory of the event from the child -- he is in deep sleep. The only person who is scared during the Night Terror is the person/people watching the child have the event!
Even though it is very unnerving to see your child in such a bizarre state, there is nothing dangerous about Night Terrors and there is nothing you can do about it (except make sure that your child doesn't accidentally hurt himself by falling down the stairs or things like that). If it really is a Night Terror (and not a bad dream), he is deeply asleep...even though his eyes are open and he is moving/walking around. I was told to NOT try to wake the child. Just let the event end on it's own and your son will go back to sleep.
I hope this helps in some way. Don't be overly frightened. We went ahead and picked-up our daughter and held her, but she seemed to be okay with it. However...it didn't make a difference for her -- the Terror continued until it was done.
L.S. answers from Chicago on December 11, 2008
Your baby is having what is called "Night Terrors" I have 4 children and only my 3rd child had these. He would really be asleep when he was screaming but his eyes were often open too....we would have to wake him up before he could calm down. I would just go into his room and hold him tight till he finally woke up. I have had friends whose kids have had these too....it is very common. My son grew out of them by the time he was 4. He didn't have them every night. I don't know if it worked but to try and avoid him having them I tried to make sure he got to bed on time and was getting enough sleep. Your baby is normal...my son who had them is an awesome, gifted student. He's 14 now.
J.P. answers from Chicago on December 11, 2008
They could be what my pediatrician calls "Night Terrors" and they are very common. My son has them on occasion and his cry is as you described, not the normal "needs something" cry. As a matter of fact, we can tell he is screaming but not awake, so we actually have to try to wake him up before we can soothe him back to sleep. Im not sure why they happen, but I have asked other family members if this has happened to their kids, and some yes some no. My doctor says there is nothing you can really do to prevent them, and that in time they usually stop. Ask your doctor at the next check-up and google it for some more info.
Hope this helps.
M.M. answers from Chicago on December 11, 2008
Do you think it may be new teeth coming in? Both my boys started to teeth at 4 months. There were times I felt the teeth woke them up at night.
Another thought is that he could be overtired. If he is sleeping around 3 hrs a day, he should be sleeping 12 hours at night. If nothing else works, try putting him to bed around 7:00. I follow Dr Weissbluth and his rule of thumb for bedtime is between 5 and 8 pm.
K.C. answers from Chicago on December 11, 2008
Hi V., Everyone keeps saying "Night Terrors" which Iam not saying everyone is wrong in anyway at all. And yes they do happen to children of all ages and it may be what is wrong with your son. And to other moms if this is what is going on with your child/children may I suggust a lavendar candle or spray. Anything lavender helps your child relax. We use this in our family and works very well. My sister used this for 5+ years on her son! But for you V., your son also might be having growing pains. Which if this is the case, pick up your son to get him to stop crying and put him back down in his crib and put some lotion on your hands and rub his legs/arms and see if this helps him go back to sleep. Dont let him fall back to sleep in your arms. Just pick him up long enough to stop the "screaming". If he stops crying to the rubbing of the legs/arms, then you know it is growing pains. Good Luck.