Night Terrors? - San Jose,CA

Updated on February 05, 2010
K.L. asks from San Jose, CA
15 answers

My daughter woke up last night at 2am screaming like someone was hurting her (no one was). She usually sleeps about 11-12 hours uninterrupted through the night. A friend of mine said that maybe she is having night terrors (different from nightmares). Does anyone have a child that has night terrors? If so, what do you do? Did you go to your pediatrician? If so, when did you go see your Pedi? It could be that she is just waking up in pain because she's getting her two year molars, as this was the first time ever that she has woken up screaming her head off like this..... but I'd like to hear from you if you know anything about night terrors. Thank you!!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from San Francisco on

Try this, it worked for me with both of my kids. Good Luck!

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Fayetteville on

My son has night terrors so I have read a lot about it. There are a couple things you can look for to decide if that's what it is. One of the key things with a night terror is that the child will appear to be awake but is NOT. They may be sitting up, walking, even talking with eyes open - but they are not really awake - they are still in the "night terror". They are very hard to calm down, usually will seem confused or disoriented and also don't usually remember anything about it the next day. Night Terrors are a type of sleep disorder or disturbance just like sleep walking is. But kids can and usually do grow out of them. I've read a lot of things saying that it is usually not a good idea to try and wake them, that can actually cause more fear or confusion in the child. When my son first had one it was very scary. He was screaming at the top of his lungs like he was being attacked. I tried to comfort him but couldn't and the scariest part was that he kept asking me for his mommy - even though I was right there! He did not recognize me. That was my first clue that something was going on besides just a nightmare. I would ask him who I was and he couldn't tell me. He does not have them very often anymore thankfully. We have also figured out things that trigger them and we can preempt them before they start sometimes. Days when he doesn't get a nap or is very overtired can trigger him to have one that night. We never went to a pediatrician about it. I read all I could online and prayed over him every night - praying against them specifically. If he had one, I would just comfort him as best I could and wait for it to end. Eventually they do calm down and will lay down and go into sound good sleep again. It doesn't hurt to talk to your doctor though to make sure that it's not something else. Night Terrors isn't something that just happens like a fluke once though. I think if that's what it is, you will see it happen several nights - and again you may notice a pattern as far as nights where she is overtired. I hope this helps.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

These are scary for the parent.........but not your child. The child never even knows they are going through this......

My son had Night Terrors between 2-4.........I didn't know what to do at first, and as any good mom would do in those moments, i tried to sooth him.....I learned it was impossible, though. That was 10 years ago, and there wasn't as much information on NT's then :o(

If your daughter is having Night Terrors, there are a few "key symptoms" to identify that it is definitely a NT. 1) The NT will occur more than once, and usually around the same time every night (within 15 minutes)...2) Your daughter will be screaming 'in terror" only to have "blank eyes" as though she doesn't even seem awake or know who you are.........

If she IS having NT''s emotionally draining for you...when she is having one, there really isn't anything you can do, but let her "ride it out"....and that is very difficult.

After you've identified that is definitely a NT, you should be able to pinpoint the earliest time during the night that she wakes up screaming. Once you've found the "time" that it occurs, then you are supposed to wake her up about 15 minutes prior to the routine NT.....just wake her up ask her "hi honey, did you call mommy?....ok sweetie, go back to sleep".....just make sure that you've waken her all the way up.....they say by interrupting the sleep pattern, it will help skip the NT for that night.

I went 1 1/2 yrs before knowing that! My son would wake up EVERY single night screaming and fighting me off in fear........I cannot tell you, as a mom, how the whole experience plays "tricks" on your mind as a good made me feel as though something happened to him that i didn't know about....maybe I wasn't providing a feeling of "security" in our own home....all those things run through your mind as a mom when you try to figure out the best way to sooth your child. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's none of those things. NT's have NOTHING to do with your home's hard to believe.

Once i finally read that you are supposed to wake your child up 15 min's before the "regular occurence"...we were on the road to recovery and a better night's sleep :o) I set my alarm, and woke my son up for 2 weeks in a row.....he never had a NT.....I thought they were gone, so i didn't wake him up on the 18th day.....he had one like clock-work! So, waking your daughter up should work, you just have to pinpoint the time she will have her occurence.

Around age 4 my son outgrew was over, with the exception of a few "hit and misss" occurences, but by then i was pro :o) By 4 1/2 they were gone completely, but I still woke up thinking one would happen!

If your daughter had a "one time occurence" then it probably either WASN'T a NT, or she is just starting them and they will become more frequent. If it was only once, then it could have something to do with her molars, too.....that teething hurts!

I hope something in my experience has helped you..........I truly wish you the best if you are about to deal with NT' might need to schedule naps for yourself now :o)

~N. :o)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My almost 11month old just had one last weekend. So scary. It went on for 2hrs straight, nonstop crying and flailing around. My husband wanted to take our son to the ER. I did all sorts of research (the next day). Turns out this could happen anytime. It could happen once, or throughout their childhood. This website helped me understand them and know in the future how to respond or not

Good luck. Hope you don't have anymore. So scary. We were in shock for days after.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Hey there! They are the worst! My son is almost 20 months old and he hasn't woken up screaming his head off in awhile (thank God) but I noticed that it would happen most frequently when he was off his sleep schedule or going through a time of transition - figuring out crawling, or walking or teething - something like that. I'm not sure if it was nightmares or night terrors (it was certainly terrifying to me) but he seems to handle it a little better now if he wakes up. He would wake up and I could barely even hold him he'd be so squirmy and arching his back and crying. We reverted back to the infant soothing methods to calm him down - I'd sing and hold him tight, then we'd give him a bottle once he's a little more calm to take it. Then we'd put him right down. My nephew used to do this and he turned out great, so I never made it to the pedi. Now if he wakes up, he's not screaming and he's much easier to soothe. I feel like he's grown out of it a little bit. I'm not sure if this is similar (or helpful!) but good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Dear K.L.
Here is my experience with night terrors. Some children, usually between two and four years old experience what appears to be a nightmare except that it is very hard or impossible to wake the child up. They sometimes seem to be awake with eyes open but they are still experiencing the nightmare. I have found them to be most common in sensitive children and also in children prone to sleep walking.Children often do not remember that they have had a night terror. If your child is having a night terror, stay clam and quiet. Speak to her gently, assuming that what you do and say might be incorporated into her dream. Stay with her. As a homeopath, I effectively treated children for night terrors many times. The most commonly used remedies were Phosphorus, Calcarea Carbonica and Medorrhinum although any properly chosen constitutional remedy has the potential of correcting night terrors. Although they are self limiting and children usually grow out of them, night terrors can be really disturbing for family members. I'm sure you could find a good constitutional homeopath in your area and you might consider that option.
Hope that helps,

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

If it is night terrors, there is nothing your Pedi can do for you. They are caused by the fast growth phase your daughter's brain is going through right now. Expect to have a month or two of getting up to comfort her until she quiets down enough to go to sleep. If you don't have one, an interesting nightlight may help.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I thought the exact same thing about my daughter 3 weeks ago. She woke up two nights in a row screaming. I took her to the Pedi right away. Double ear infection. She had absolutely no other symptoms. I had even asked her repeatedly if she was feeling any pain anywhere, Nothing. If your little one has molars coming in, she could very likely be experiencing ear pain.

Best of Luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

My children have night terrors on occasion. They basically sit up and start screaming while asleep. They do not actually wake up, and nothing seems to console them. I just sit with them until they lay back down and calm down to make sure they don't hurt themselves.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My son has had night terrors over the years since around age 2 (he is 7 now). We have noticed that they always occur when our regular schedule has changed, or he is sleeping somewhere "different".

The last time it happened we were camping. Blood curdling screams, arching back, even hitting when we tried to comfort him. The best thing to do (as the other moms have said) is to just be there to make sure they do not hurt themselves. My husband did try massaging his feet, and the 1st night of camping, it totall y worked, the NT was over almost immediately. However, the 2nd night, we tried it, and nothing. So you pretty much just have to wait it out.

Another time, we were at a relatives house, and when it began my mom and I both tried to comfort him. Again, it was a full blown NT. This went on for about 30-45 minutes, him not knowing who we were, arching his back, tensing his whole body, etc. Then all of the sudden, he sat up and said "Wanna hear me play the piano?" It was very strange, but quite funny/ cute at the same time. We asked him if he had any memory of what had been going on, and he thought he had been asleep. He had no recollection what-so-ever of the NT.

Without a doubt, it is a scary situation, even when you know what is going on. Hopefully your daughter will quickly grow out of it. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

Night terrors differ from nightmares in a couple of ways - the child is not awake when s/he begins screaming, and she will not remember her dreams. Nightmares often wake a child up, and they often remember the dream when they first wake up.

If your child is having night terrors, there is nothing to worry about. It is pretty common at this age, and most kids outgrow it. Although traumatic for the parents, since the child does not remember what scared her, it is not nearly so disturbing for her, so remain calm. Feel free to bring it up to your pediatrician, but don't be surprised if you're told it's normal and there's nothing they can do. If your daughter does not outgrow this, you may want to take her to a sleep specialist, but most kids do.

If her molars are coming in, some Ibuprofen should prevent those night-time screaming fits.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My son recently started having night terror last week. It is scary when he is having these episodes. From what I have read and told by his pediatrician, you have to comfort them. Reassure them that you love them and you are there for them. I know that it's hard when they are having their night terrors because they are non responsive. I was in tears because my son was calling out for me screaming and I was holding him. He looked at me and kept calling out "I want my mommy." The pediatrician also mentioned to make sure your child is not watching anything violent. It can also be caused by stress.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter is 20 months old and has had night terrors as well. They are very frightening when you're not sure at first what is going on. She screams and flails her body to the point that I have almost dropped her when trying to comfort her. She is mostly dead weight as well because she's completely asleep. They have lasted anywhere from 5-20 minutes and just like that they stop and she's still out cold. I did ask the ped about it at her 18 month appointment and he said it typically happens when there is a disruption in the sleep schedule and kids are overly tired. I noticed with my daughter that she would have them after her sleep was messed up for a couple of nights because of teething or an illness then she would go into such a deep sleep and have a night terror. It is completely normal and you just have to comfort them as much as possible so that your little one doesn't hurt herself. My ped said not to try to wake her but just let it run it's course. Hers always happen within 3 hours of going to sleep for the night. I hope this helps. Good luck.



answers from Boise on

If it could possibly be teeth, give her some Motrin before bed (it can't hurt if it isn't). Night terrors are different than what you seemed to describe. They are inconsolable and don't seem to know that you are there.



answers from Minneapolis on

My son has had night terrors. He had some before the age of 1 and then one again at 2 years old. They are scary. We try to comfort and console him, but if that seems to scare him more, we just stay by him and make sure he doesn't get hurt or fall off the bed. It seems to make it worse if we try to talk to him or turn on the lights, etc. So, we just stay by him and hug/hold him if he let's us. He generally goes back to sleep after 5 or so minutes and wakes up his normal, cheery self in the morning. We asked our pediatrician and she said it's nothing to worry about and they are usually harder on the parents than the child.

Good luck. I know it's hard to see them like that and not be able to comfort them.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions