Childern That Have Night Terrors

Updated on October 05, 2006
A.W. asks from Kearney, NE
12 answers

I have a 1 year old that started having night terrors (these are not nightmears there is a big differance) when he was about 4 weeks old and they were very extensive we could have up to 13 a night. He is a very happy and easy little boy but we are trying to figure out what to do next for his bed we had to put him in a pack and play to sleep due to it had soft sides. He is now only having 2 or 3 a month but we have been told that childern that have night terrors usually move into sleep walking and so we are a little concerned about his safty and he will be out growing his bed soon. We had thought about just putting a twin mattress on the floor so it's not so far to the floor but I am not sure...

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answers from Seattle on

My daughter had the same issue she is now 2 though and I put a mattres on the floor and now she sleeps just fine,i put a reg bed up but she was afried she was going to fall off the bed so put it on the floor she sleeps fine now. hope that helps

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answers from Missoula on

Hi A.,
My daughter is almost 4 and has had night terrors since she was one. She doesn't remember them, or even recognize her dad and I when she is having them. I read up and talked to a bunch of parents and doctors, and we finally figured out how to prevent them most of the time. If your son has them freqently -try waking him 45 mins after he falls asleep(we needed to keep a monitor in her room and check on her to see exactly when she would fall asleep) The theory is that the terrors happen at that time of REM sleep, so you need to wake him up to prevent them, and this should break the cycle. We had to do it for over 2 weeks, but it worked. Really limit sugar at nighttime, make sure he isn't over tired if possible(naps are important-i still make my daughter rest during the day, and it helps prevent them) Also things like fevers, colds make them worse, so be prepaired for him to have them when he is sick, or more often. When you do wake him, no lights, soft voices and just make sure he wakes up enough to know he's awake. We would bring a different stuffed animal to her and tell her that "the cat couldn't sleep, so could she tuck her in with her" just enough to break the REM sleep, then she'd go right back to sleep. I'm sure you already know, but never try and wake you son up during a terror, it makes it worse and he will be fearful of bedtime. Just try singing or talking about happy things until her calms down-it would take up to 45 mins sometimes with my daughter. Hope this helps-the only thing that worked for my daughter was to break the cycle, she only has them now when she is really over-tired or sick with a fever. Good luck to you!



answers from Eugene on


As a mom of a 2-year old epileptic, I can strongly recommend that you have your son evaluated by a neurologist. Your pediatrician should be willing to refer one. There are numerous things that cause night terrors, and a neurologist should be able to eliminate some of them. We were told for months that our daughter was fine, and finally had her evaluated. Hope this helps, good luck.



answers from Las Vegas on

Nightterors are VERY scary things. My children never had them, but one of my cousins did when I was younger.
What about one of the low to the ground toddler beds? They use the crib mattress and are only about a foot or so off the ground. Or they have some new inflatable toddler beds at places like Target. They are mostly desgined for use somewhere when the kids need a quick and comfy bed (like grandmas or naptime) but a "real" bed won't work. That way he has a "big boy bed", but he is still safe.
Also, make sure you have safety gates in place so he can't wander off if he does start sleep walking. If you have any stairs, make sure they are gated at both top and bottom. Also you might want to put a gate in his bedroom doorway.
Hope this helps!



answers from Boise on

hello my name is R. and i have four children and i have a son in the middle of the girls, anway's we went through the night terrors for a long time. He would talk in his sleep and you could have a normal conversation with him while he was asleep, my doctor told me, he has a verry active mind it is always working even when he sleeps, his mind is working. My sister suffered from sever sleep walking, we had to bolt the door's and secure everything, but she did grow out of it, and so is my son he hardly has the night terrors, i put a night light in his room, and the mattress is a good idea, it will get easier, it is hard i know but he has a verry active mind it is always working, when he started first grade he stated having less and less of the night terrors, he doesnt sleep walk, but again i put a nigh light in his room, the mattress and locked all the doors, his room is next to ourt so we can here what he is doing it is getting better, i would ask him what he dreamed last night, because i would here him talking or yelling and he can't remember, he is going on nine now and it is hardly and issue any more, so maybe he will grow out of it my sister did and im hopeing the same for him, i hope i helped some, he sounds verry busy,even if he's awake mine is, well e-mail me and maybe we can chat some more.
a little about me im 35 yrs old, a cna have 4 kids been married 18 yrs, lived in portland ore, all my life moved to idaho been here for 2yrs.



answers from Honolulu on

One thing for sure there is no definite answer as to why some of us have night terrors or sleepwalking. I had both when I was a child I think until I was 10 yrs. old. Usually I would have those following a stressful day at school and home, and after watching a scary movie. Most of the time really it was after reading a book, or watching a scary movie.
Kids imagination are so rich especially the intelligent ones whose mind is so active. I think it is important to create beautiful thoughts before going to sleep, like reading a nice book, a watching a nice movie, playing soothing music, or just talking to them about fun stuff before sleeping and reassuring them that they are safe and secured.
During an episode, helps to snap them off the bad dream by gently waking them up and just hugging them and being there to keep them secured.
I also read a book about Feng Sui, which I am not really an expert of. But it says about having large mirrows like closet mirrors in kid's room creates night terrors in a child. My room has this kind of closet and it scares me sometimes. What more with kids who has rich imaginations.
Hang in there, he will outgrow them like I did. But if it becomes too disruptive you might want to consult her pediatrician and might be able to refer you to a specialist. There might be a serious underlying problem.
About me, I've been a stay at home mom now for a year with 2 daughters. But I used to work as a nurse.
Hope this helps a bit.



answers from Boise on

My son had night terrors also. I dont know who it scared the most.. me or him! But he did grow out of it about the time he was two and a half ( I think, he is six is back there always in the memory bucket)! He did not sleep walk per se. The doc said get him up and take him outside to get him to wake up, the cold air seemed to snap him out of it. That was about the only thing that worked. The good new he did grow out of it. Good luck to you!



answers from Portland on

My son had night terrors at about 2 and my husband did a lot of online research to find out about them. They are often caused by/associated with having hot feet. If you put a cool wet washcloth on their feet it stops the terror immediately. We did it twice I think, and he's never had another night terror. My son also couldn't stand having footed pajamas on from a very early age.

There is also some research suggesting it might be related to some mineral deficiency. You might think about his diet and talk with his pediatrician.



answers from Las Vegas on

Hi A.!

My son had them as a baby as well. I remember being completely freaked out everytime he had one. The doctor kept telling me he was too young to be having them but I knew it was more than just a simple nightmare. I think he only got out of his bed once or twice though. I agree with the others who posted about a low toddler bed and making sure any stairs you have are gated. I was told to keep the bedroom door locked, but I didn't want to do that. Even your idea of a mattress on the floor doesn't sound bad.

My son fortunately outgrew it by the time he was around 3. There is nothing scarier than having a little one screaming in fear, looking at you like he has no idea who you are, and having it get worse when you try to comfort him.

Good luck. I've been there. It will get better eventually.



answers from Omaha on

I seem to remember reading a journal article talking about night terrors and they recommended allowing the child to fall asleep and then approximately 15 minutes thereafter, you should wake him up (enough that he would respond to a question) then let him return to sleep on his own. Somehow that seems to break the cycle. You may want to look into it.



answers from Grand Rapids on

My eldest son started with the night terrors at six weeks old. He is now three and the terrors have significantly subsided. We gave up on cribs altogether and opted for co-sleeping; he seemed to be able to actually sleep well when snuggled in with me. He does still sit up and talk and is apt to cry out on ocassion but it is not a nightly thing. When we transitioned him to a bed, we kept it very low to the ground.
Since my husband was a sleep walker as a child we opted to put a gate on his bedroom door and I still use a monitor with him so I can hear him throughout the night. I know it must sound harsh like I'm locking him in his room. I keep the bedroom door open but the gate gives me peace of mind that he won't get up in the middle of the night, wandering the house, and cause himself injury.
I worry about my other children and if sleepwalking is hereditary.
Anyway, good luck. I understand your worry.



answers from Boise on

I just read an article on this in the family fun magazine, the woman who wrote it's son started having them when he started school. She said that she started out telling really nice stories and left it open so he could dream out the rest, I know at one it may have to be simplistic and I don't know if it will work, but I hope it helps. Also, have you told your pediatrician? There could be other things going on too...

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