Night Terrors? - Milford,OH

Updated on October 19, 2007
A.R. asks from Milford, OH
14 answers

Hello. My 2 year old daughter has started waking up in the middle of the night screaming her head off. She is not crying but screaming and it seems to happen almost every night. She screams until she is hoarse and almost makes herself sick. I called the doctor and they said it is probably night terrors. They basically told me that she just has to outgrow it and there is nothing I can do. I was wondering what other experiences moms have had with night terrors and is there anything that I can do for her? The only thing that seems to calm her down is bringing her into our bed and letting her fall asleep and then taking her back and putting her in her own bed.
She does take nap during the day when she is at school but it is hard to get her to take a nap when she is home with me. She has been in a new toddler bed for the past 2 months but nothing else strange has happened that I can think up that would upset her sleep routine.
Thanks!

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K.H.

answers from Cincinnati on

A., my son is now 8 years old but when he was 2 he also started with the night terrors. He still has them but not as frequently, only now when something in his life changes, like being out of school for the summer, starting on a new sports etc. The doctors prescred a medicine that basically helps him sleep. It is a prescription form of Benedryl called "Diphen AF" it is a liquid. He is a straight A student, very active and smart and I have been giving this to him off and on since he was 2 and it had no adverse effect on him. They told me he would outgrow the terrors also and basically he has but I guess when he is stressed out he has them very occasionally now. HTH. My email is: [email protected]____.com if you have any questions. Good luck. K.

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K.M.

answers from Columbus on

As others have mentioned, the majority of night terrors happen when a child is overtired. If they are true night terrors, and not "bad dreams", you should NOT try to wake her up or even touch her. The best thing to do is to silently watch to make sure she can't hurt herself.

While these are scary for adults, children don't even remember night terrors when they wake up and they will outgrow them, but you can help by making sure she is well-rested.

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L.M.

answers from Dayton on

my friend's daughter had night terrors, and was told by her doctor that they are most likely to occur when they've had a very busy day (like an amusement park day) and are over exhausted when they go to bed. good luck! L.

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K.I.

answers from Cincinnati on

Dear A.,

Night terrors seem to have little to do with the events happening to the child and more about the child's mental development. Our son had them off and on for a while at about that age. While it is scary for the adult witnessing it, the child doesn't even seem to remember anything about it at all in the morning. If you have found some means of calming her, then do that, and rest assured it is not something you have done to scare your daughter during the day, and she will outgrow it soon.

Best wishes,
K.

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M.R.

answers from Cincinnati on

A few questions - has there been anything that has disrupted her sleeping pattern, such as a vacation, visiting relatives or guests, fever or illness? What has her normal sleep schedule been like - does she have a good nap/night time routine? Is it consistent and regular from day to day (not necessarily down to the minute, but goes down to nap around the same time and sleeps for a similar duration and goes to bed around the same time and wakes around the same time)?

You can take comfort in that night terrors aren't bad dreams nor is it likely that she will remember the night terror when awake. According to Dr. Weissbluth's "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" book you could try to put her to bed a little earlier (30 minutes) and also make sure she is on a consistent sleep/nap routine throughout the day if she isn't already.

Please also check out www.babycenter.com and www.webmd.com and search 'night terrors' for accurate information as to the source of the issue.

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C.Y.

answers from Cincinnati on

A.,

My son had these, and they are soo horrible and frightening as a Mom to watch! Our pediatrician told us not to wake him, but to watch him to make sure he didn't hurt himself. They also suggested giving him benadryl at night to help him stay asleep during this "transitional stage" of sleeping, which is when night terrors occur. Our son outgrew them, and so far, out 2 year old daughter hasn't had them. Good luck!!

C.

N.V.

answers from Columbus on

It's so sad when our little ones have bad dreams, since there's nothing we can do about it! My 2.5 yr old son has been waking up w/ bad dreams (not night terrors, thankfully), and he tells me what his dreams were about. I told him 1) to pray about it and 2) Tell his "Moo-Cow" (favorite animal) about his dreams, because the dreams are not real; they're like stories that you can share with your friends. Both of these have seemed to work on occasion.
I had night terrors as a child and still remember what the reoccuring dream was that my parents couldnt' wake me up from -- how tramatic is that?!
WIsh you the best!

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T.W.

answers from Columbus on

My daughter is 3 now, but when she was 2 she went through the same thing. My daughter wouldn't scream, but just cry and cry and cry like she was petrified! She will grow out of it and it doesn't usually take very long. We've always read a story to our daughter every night and it seemed to help when we would read "happy" stories instead of "goodnight" stories or "disney" stories that have a villian. They just get their minds going about saying "good bye" or having an ememy. Even though the children are only 2 they know what it means. My daughter would only calm down by putting her in our bed until she fell asleep too! So I would just do this for a little bit. It will get better and it won't last long! Hang in there!

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A.R.

answers from Columbus on

Two of my three kids had night terrors, and they are frightening. Usually it happened with them when they were overtired. What worked for us (after much trial and error) was to get them out of bed and fully awake. When the night terror is happening, their eyes may be open, but they aren't really awake. Once you wake them, they are fine, and usually will go back to sleep. Good luck!

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M.R.

answers from Columbus on

I don't have personal experience with this area, but I have read that you should not wake them up, similar to with sleep walking. I guess you're just supposed to be present and make sure they stay safe. Good luck, I'm sure it's nerve wracking

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M.S.

answers from Columbus on

Night terrors are not the same as nightmares. With night terrors, children shouldn't be touched, it will only make it worse. A true night terror is when your child lashes out, screams, and basically looks awake, but they are not coherent at all. It can last anywhere from 5 mins to 30 mins. The best thing to do is to just watch her and not try to pick her up or anything. just make sure she can't hurt herself and let her be. It is really common, esp. between the ages of 2-6. Children who have night terrors are usually described as 'bolting upright' with their eyes wide open, with a look of fear and panic, and letting out a 'blood curdling scream'. They will usually also be sweating, breathing fast and have a rapid heart rate. And although it will seem like they are awake, during a night terror,they will appear confused, will not be consolable and won't recognize you. Also, they differ in nightmares because they usually occur within 1-4 hours of falling asleep. being overtired is a cause, so make sure you daughter is on a good routine. As hard as it will be, don't bring her in your room. If she is truly having a night terror, she will not even realize you are in her room, so just make sure she is safe.

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H.C.

answers from Cincinnati on

My 3 year old has been having night terrors and nightmares too. At her 3 year check up I asked the pediatrician what I could do. Here's what she suggested & it is working:
1) No TV or anything too stimulating 2 hrs before bedtime. Activities should be quiet play, coloring, story time, bath, play doh things like that; 2) she suggested two books: Maggie and the Monster and There's a Monster Under My Bed; 3) Buy your child a flashlight to keep at her bedside. I am amazed that just the change in her bedtime routine and having quiet play 2 hrs before bed has done. She has not had a night terror since we started this. The books & flashlight are to help in the event that she has a nightmare, which the pediatrician said are very common at this age b/c their imaginations are becoming very active. I have also found that my daughter is now much less resistant to bedtime, she really enjoys the activities that we do before bed now and goes to bed without a fuss. Good luck, I H. that this helps.

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L.

answers from Cincinnati on

Hi A. -
Both my kids had these but they did outgrow them. We were told by our dr not to wake them up. My daughter would scream in the middle of the night and we would just hold her. She sometimes woke up and other times she did not. I would just sing her favorite song and rock her until she exhausted herself back to sleep. My son did not want to be held. We would just lay with him and sing until he calmed down. His did not last as long as hers but it was still horrible. I could not see where a change in their routine impacted the terrors.
Good luck and hopefully they won't last long.

L.

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D.K.

answers from Cincinnati on

A.,
My daughter is 2 years old as well and occasionally wakes up from night terrors as well. When it first started it was almost every night but now it is just every now and then, so hopefully your daughters won't last long either.
Not a lot helps really but the one thing that did help my daughter is I would wake her up, because a lot of times when they are having them they are still asleep, and then I would get her a sippy cup with milk or juice (which would stop the screaming and calm her down) and then I would lay down with her in her bed for a few minutes or until she would fall back asleep. I don't know if this helps at all but thats what worked for us.
Good Luck,
D.

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