AAAHH! Night Terrors!

Updated on March 16, 2007
C.S. asks from Gainesville, TX
13 answers

Has anyone dealt with night terrors in their 2 year old? What can you do to calm her down? I never can calm her down and it scares me because she always seems so scared. She screams out "no no no" and I can't touch her or talk to her. Help!

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answers from Beaumont on

I feel for you! My 5 year old daughter has them about 3 times a week. I feel like a horrible mom when i can not calm her down. She just screams and doesn't stop for about 4 min. We have recently gotten a sound machine that has a waterfall noise and we spray "monster spray" really just water every night to keep the monsters away and the good dreams close. Also I have found that a early bedtime before she is to sleepy (around 8 or 8:30 for us) and no sweets after 6. Seem to help also we have cut out Spongebob, Jimmy Newtron, and Fairly Oddparents. We found that these cartoons were actually kinda scary if you would dream about them. Now she watches more child friendly cartoons, I hope this helps, I really do. I know how hard this is to deal with.

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answers from Houston on

The big question first is who is she around during the day? What is that environment like? Second if everything seems OK then she may be overly tierd, did she get a nap that day? My son (now 9) did this same thing to me. He would come screaming and crying and calling for me and although he looked wide awake it was like he did not see me. I would get SO scared because I would hold him and tell him mommy is right here but it was always like he could not hear or see me. You right, it is VERY scary. I do not think that there is really anything you can do but say a prayer over her before bed time. My son still has bed dreams but as long as he prays before bed and his daddy blesses him good night everything goes great.



answers from Shreveport on

Hey C.,

I know what you are going thru. My daughter went thru them too about the same age as yours is now.
I agree with what one of the other moms wrote, that sometimes they just take soo much in that their little minds just dont know how to handle everything.
But you know, my daughter, now 3, used to wake up crying & walking yelling for me. I used to pick her up & hold her till she stopped crying, by that time I could ask her what was wrong. She always would just say that she is scared.
So what we did, sounds crazy, but we sprayed "magic spray" that got all the bad things out of the room. At the time she wanted windex sprayed in her room cause thats what she thought got rid of the bad things & it was pink.
So every night I sprayed it in the air & we yelled at everything to go away cause it was night night time.
Now she thinks that everything that was bad, got in trouble & they have to be nice to her. Plus I got a little lamp in there so in case she completely woke up there would be some light for her. We also have those small little windows above our windows thru-out the house. Well she says that those are her special lights that Jesus shines in her room to keep her safe.
I still have issues sometimes with her, but I just walk her back to bed & lay there till she can go back to sleep.
Now she is in a thing that she has to cover her head.

Hope some of this helped a little.
Take care~



answers from Austin on

Hi C.,

I am sorry that you have to experience this. Both of my children had them. My son's were worse than my daughters. The thing I found most interesting about the night terrors is sometimes my children would seem awake and completely unconsolable. The I realized although eyes were open they could still be asleep. At any rate, I would attempt to wake them up by talking to them, singing, picking them up. Sometime it would take 15-20 minutes to get them to wake up out of the night terror. It is my beleif that children at this age gather so much (almost too much) information and they can't process it all at night. Thier little minds are completely over stimulated. Also, I noticed that our night terrors were most prevalent after really busy days and after events like Chucky Cheese.

My suggestion is to make bed time as peacefull as posible by reading to her, playing soft music in their room, saying our prayers and talk about all her favorite things. This is what I did, so I would that we were ending the day on good and happy emotions. I also tried to talk to my kids during te day to see if there was a specific character or thing in the dream that they could remember. So we could talk about the real and the not real. Also, in the middle of the night I would try to talk to them. It seemed that sometimes I could talk or sing the scary stuff or thing away.

It can be really scary, overwhelming and tiring. But keep in mind that your baby girl will eventually outgrow this if given good peace conditions and patience. (Personally I am extremely patient and this is one area the tested my patience.)

Good Luck...



answers from Dallas on

I have a friend whose son suffered from night terrors. They cut out drinks with red dye. (I am sure there is more but that is one specific item). He quit having them. It is an easy thing for you to try as it won't hurt her to cut red dye out of her diet, but you should talk to your pedi about it too. It made a huge difference in him having them. Good luck.



answers from College Station on

I had these as a child and even as an adult I still have them. So I pretty much know what your daughter is going through. You have to just stay calm, and even though she may scream at you, please don't take it personally. Just talk to her calmly and keep telling her, "It's mommy - mommy's here," etc.... until she calms down. You may also want to bring it up with her pediatrician to see if they have any recommendations or could rule out anything medically that causes these dreams. I wish I knew how to get rid of them, but I don't really know if you can. One thing my mom did when I was little the Care Bears had just come out and my mom bought me Bedtime Bear and told me he made all the bad dreams go away. I slept with that bear until I was in High school! =)



answers from Pine Bluff on

C., it IS scary! My daughter has had them every once in a while and at first I would try and hold her, comfort her, talk to her gently, but it didn't help and would just drag things out. Then I talked to a friend who said that strangely, that can sometimes make the episodes worse. So I tried just holding her in my lap but not saying or doing anything, and in like 2 minutes it was over! This is in contrast to episodes that have been as long as 30+ minutes.

It happened the night before last, but she'd been asleep on the LR couch before suppertime and "woke up". We were in the bedroom and I saw her run past our door and around the LR like she was looking for us. We got her into our room and although she looked awake she started kicking her feet and making noises like she does when she gets these terrors. My hubby was really confused because he's never been around when this happens. I told him what worked with her and just said to leave her alone and not even talk to her and see what happened. After a couple of minutes she pulled out of it but then (I think ) really woke up and started crying.

Anyway, my point is to try leaving her alone if trying to comfort her seems to aggravate the situation! Sorry you're going through this, but I hope this helps.



answers from Houston on

Does she wake up shaking uncontrollably? My son woke up one night shaking and screaming in fear....but he was having seizures. I thought it was just a bad dream that shook him up, bc he had just seen a scary movie before he went to bed. He was 8 at the time. Long story short, he is being treated for epilepsy. How often does she wake up like that. Does it look like she is dreaming???



answers from New Orleans on

My son has night terrors. They started, or really they got worse after Katrina. I notice that my son's night terrors get worse when his schedule is disrupted. Like if we go out of town, then when we settle back in at home, he will have a few bad nights.

I also try taking him out of his room when the terrors are really bad, going in the living room and turning on the light to wake him up. Even with him kicking and screaming, I move him to another room and turn on the light so he will wake up. The reason you can't talk to her is that she's still asleep! I also have found that the terrors are worse if he has to go potty. If I can get him to go to the bathroom, he usually goes right back to sleep.

Hope this helps. I know it is frustrating. The thing we've found that helps the most is to keep him as rested as possible, and as calm as possible before bedtime. And keeping his routine basically the same. For example, we are going out of town this weekend, and my parents are coming to my house to stay with the kids so he can keep the same bedtime environment and hopefully avoid terrors.



answers from Houston on

My 3yo had trouble sleeping around the age of 2, also. I did some research on it, and it turned out that ALL children this age have trouble sleeping through the night. I thought he was having nightmares, too, and I tried everything I could think of. In the end the only thing that worked was time. All I did was put him back in bed, tell him I love him, and went back to my room and locked the door. It sounds cruel, but he needed to learn to deal with it on his own, and get back to sleep. If there was something wrong, naturally I would help, but for the most part, I just had to bear it.



answers from Houston on

I have heard sleeping with a light on, or semi bright night light is supposed to cure night terrors.



answers from Minneapolis on


My daughter went through this and I know how frustrating it can be. We couldn't find a cure for our daughter, just had to wait for her to outgrow it.

Then my friend found a cure for it when her son went through it and she shared it with me. Learn what time of night your daughter has night terrors, then go into her room and gently wake her up about 30 minutes before they usually start. If there is no pattern, wait until she has been asleep for a couple of hours and then do it. Have her just be awake for a few minutes, and then put her back to sleep. It alters her sleep cycle and prevents the night terrors after about 2-4 weeks of consistent effort, so don't give up after the first few nights.

You are right in that you can't wake them up or calm them down once they are in the night terror. It is pointless and frustrating. Until you have the terrors stopped, make sure her room is set up so that she is unlikely to hurt herself. These episodes are often caused by stress. Look to see if there has been a change in her routine that you could help her become accustomed to in the daytime.

Best wishes,


answers from Houston on

my daughter has them bad, i let her sleep with me if she has a bad dream so that i can ease her back to sleep by petting her head

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