Night Terrors - Zachary,LA

Updated on February 14, 2008
A.M. asks from Zachary, LA
24 answers

I think my 21 mon. old might be having night terrors, anyone know about these? What causes them and what I can do before I lose my mind ? A.

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Thank you all for your advice and suggestions they will all be very helpful.

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answers from Huntsville on

This might be a reaction to the recent move she just went through. Has any other major events happened recently?



answers from Baton Rouge on

My daughter's pediatrician told us that night terrors have recently been associated with acid reflux. He recommended a Malox every night before bed.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

My daughter has had them since almost 2 (she's three today). They were frequent up until about 5 months ago, but now they seem to be rare, occurring only when we take a trip or she is overstimulated during the day (the last one was a half-hour ordeal during the night after a Christmas party out of town where she was running around playing hard with a few other little ones).

She has no medical reasons for them (not on any medication, doesn't have any medical conditions). When she has them, we can't wake her up at all, we just have to wait until it's over. Touching her or trying to hold her seems to make it worse. All I do is sit near her and only touch her if I have to keep her from hurting herself by kicking something hard or falling. I do talk to her consolingly throughout the period, as I do think that helps...just touching or holding is an absolute no-no with her. When she wakes up we console her, holding or rocking her until she isn't scared any more. Then she goes back to sleep and is perfectly fine.

At first I didn't know what they were and it scared us to death, as she always seems fully awake (but positively possessed - she lashes out and kicks and punches)when she has them. After a few times we figured it out though and it's not as scary for us, though it breaks our heart to see her so terrified and not be able to do anything about it.
(I can tell when she is really awake because she'll look at me and recognize me, and come to me to hold'll be able to see it in her eyes).

I agree with the others to make sure there isn't a medical/pharmaceutical reason for them. It may just be physiological however - I read in someone else's response to another request a while back that at about your daughter's age (and the age mine was when they started), there is a burst of neural development in the brain that seems to have the side effect of causing night terrors (which might also explain why my daughter's have tapered off over the last few months).

Do try to keep a very regular sleep schedule though, as I found that helped, and I'd try to keep overstimulation from thing such as vacations in a new and strange place to a minimum until this period is over. I can almost guarantee my little one will have at least one night terror if we have to go out of town for a few days.

Hang in there, it'll be alright and it won't last forever. You're not doing anything wrong, and you're not causing them. Just get her checked out to be sure nothing medical is the cause and then just be there for her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Birmingham on

My oldest son had night terrors and as hard as it is to believe they are not harmful at all to the children - only to the parent's sanity. The only thing you can do is hold them while they scream to keep them from hurting themselves and let it run its course. They go away on their own and my son never knew he had had one. I guess they lasted about 6 months or less.



answers from Knoxville on

My daughter has had night terrors since she was 2 1/2. She is now 5. There is really nothing you can do, just watch them to make sure they don't hurt themselves. The more you talk to them or mess with them the worse it gets because they can not determine reality at that point. My daughter has gradually gotten better of the years. She still has some here and there but not like she use to. Good luck, hope they don't last long. We tried medicines and different routines, all kinds of things the doctor suggested but nothing ever worked for us.



answers from Fort Smith on

My four year old has had these and it is frightening. She had tactile as well as visual terrors, so she would feel bugs crawling all over her. It worked to make she she wakes up and then talk to her. Although they look awake, often the child is still asleep. So we turn on the lights and make sure she is awake before we console her. I have found that these happen more often when she is overtired. So make sure that your child is taking a good nap and/or going to bed right on time. These are very scary good luck!



answers from Nashville on

Hi A.!

I just joined Mamasource. From what I have read, night terrors are common in young children. I remember babysitting when I was young and the little girl, same age as yours, would wake up screaming and I would get her back to bed. My teenager had them for a year when she was 13yrs. It was very tiring, scary, and frustrating. They are usually caused from being overstressed. The child does not know what they are doing, and won't remember them in the morning, opposed to nightmares which they will remember. We did a lot of praying and tried to figure out what the stresses where. My daughter was much older, of course, but it was very worrysome.
If your daughter is doing this several times a week or nightly, you may want to talk to your pediatrician.
I would do a soothing bath, very low lights, and calming music and songs before bedtime. Just hold her and tell her to go back night night. She has no idea what she is doing. Don't make a big deal about it when she wakes you up. It doesn't hurt her, just sounds terrible. It is tough. I hope this helps. Maybe go on Focus on the Family website and see if they have more suggestions. She should grow out of it. My daughter did.
Good Luck, and God Bless.



answers from Birmingham on

My daughter started these when she was around 2 and she's 8 now and still has them. She wakes up screaming usually around 11:00pm-2:00am, it's as if she will look straight through you. The only thing that works for us is to physically get her up and walk her through the house until she wakes up and then she uses the restroom and has a drink of water and goes back to sleep for the rest of the night. Beleive me we have tried everything and this is the oly thing that works for her. It usually happens when she has had a really long day or a late night the night before. Make sure she gets plenty of rest



answers from Dothan on

I am so sorry you and your family are going through this. I experienced this with my daughter (now 5)when she was about your daughter's age. It scared my hubby and I to death, it was like she was possessed. I took her to the Doctor after the third or fourth night in a row, and he did all sorts of blood work and stuff like that and couldn't find anything out of the ordinary except her allergies. He told me to take her off the Zyrtec she was taking for them and see if that helped. Guess what?? After 3 nights without the Zyrtec, the terrors were gone. I don't know if you daughter is on any medications daily or not, but it's worth looking into. Her Dr. also suggested giving her a dose of benadryl about 30 or 45 minutes before bed if she'd had a very stressful of active day, it's supposed to help her relax. Hope this helps, i'll be praying for you.



answers from Nashville on

Hey A.! Unfortunately I don't have any good advice about night terrors. But I was very curious to read all the responses posted to your request. I noticed that you are new to Nashville and just came from Utah! I am also new to Nashville and just moved from Utah! I wanted to welcome you to TN and hope you don't miss the mountains too much!



answers from Chattanooga on

My son had those when he was really young(8 or 9 months). We knew that they had to be night terrors because nothing fixed him when they occurred. We could pick him up, hold him, but he did not get better until he was fully awake. My pediatrician said the only thing you can do is set an alarm to wake the child before the night terror occurs. This is very inconvenient, but it does work. It interrupts the sleep cycle in which the terrors occur. You don't have to fully wake them, like waking them and making them stay awake, just enough to get their eyes open and alert, and then put them right back to bed.



answers from Jackson on

Hey my name is B. and I have a son who is 2 years old and he had night terrors when he wa about 20 months. I took him to the doctor because he would wake up screaming and shaking 2 or 3 times a night for about 2 weeks. He had no fever, not a runny nose, or was not even coughing so I did not know what was wrong with him. The doctor said that watching t.v. before bed is probally the cause. He said that he might have seen something, that we as adults probally do not think is scary, but he thinks is scary. He also said to start out and give the recommended dose for benadryl every night about 30 mins before bed. So we gave the benadryl and he did not watch t.v. before bed. We started reading books and believe it or not it actually worked. It took him about a week to regualte his schedule back but he does not have them anymore. Hope this helps. B. M.



answers from Chicago on

I know about them. My husband had them, and my son has them. They are genetic. There is some great info on them on Dr. Sears' website One thing I do know though, is that when my husband had them, the Dr. told my mother-in-law to make him go to the bathroom, and she said it stopped it every time. The same has been true for my son so far. Also, in case you didn't know, they aren't really like dreams, in that they remember being terrified, and don't always know why. My husband remembers running through the house screaming, and said there was nothing that he could do to stop it.



answers from Nashville on

My 17 month old I believe has done that a few times too. She woke up a few times screaming and that is so unlike her. She usually wakes up and plays and talks to the stuffed animals and reads.
I was watching Sylvia Brown on Montelle Wed and someone asked her that and her take on that was, she said that younger children are psychic and they will sometimes see spirits and and it is actually family or someone that has passed on that is watching over them, protecting them. The babies don't know that and it scares them so they cry out.
Now I don't know. I do believe in spirits and protectors. But that was Sylvia Brown's take on that.
About what to do.... I would just go in and hold your baby by the bedside, and tell her/him that it is ok, lay down beside her or whatever, (comfort her in whatever way that works best for you) and then put her back to sleep. That is what I do. I don't take her out of the room, I just let her know it is ok and i am there and then she goes back to sleep without any problems.



answers from Birmingham on

I do remember my son & daughter having these when they were a bit younger. I recently was reading a parenting magazine in the pediatrician's office (Greenvale Ped's) There was an advertisement for a product called "Calms Forte 4 Kids" made by Hylands. I have used their teething tablets and earache tablets before. The advertisement said it helps with night terrors, growing pains, restlessness and sleeplessness in kids. It caught my attention because my kids both have growing pains. Here is the website with more info:
It might be worth trying. Of course, with all medications, homeopathic or otherwise, you want to read the label, ingredients, and even consult your doctor.

Of course, I always recommend prayer for these things - we as parents need all the help we can get!

P.S. Here is a link to another mamasouce question about night terrors and those responses:



answers from Jonesboro on

You might try some lavender oil in her bath at night. It is soothing and calming for little ones. Also, flower essence remedies are safe and effective for kids. Rescue remedy is one you can buy at the health food store. Just put a couple drops in a little water before bed. It good for any stress big people and little people.



answers from Tuscaloosa on

Night terrors are a sleep disorder thought to be caused by the fast neurological development of toddlers. We were taught that they can not be prevented and have to be grown out of and they usually outgrow them by school age, because their brains are not developing as rapidly by the time they hit 4-5 years old.

Most children do not know what is happening, it is like sleep walking or a seizure, totally uncontrollable and you have to wait for it to pass and put them back in bed.

As a pediatric psychologist (in training)and a mom of a daughter who had night terrors, I can tell you that there is not much you can do about this besides wait it out.

Here is some good information on the condition. It explains the symptoms very well.



answers from Atlanta on

When my son was that age he had really bad nightmares. I never got a clear distinction on the difference in nighmare and night terrors. But, don't rush to judge. It could be growing pains, food reactions, and I've read about when children developing imaginations can cause creative dreams. I was a terrible sleepwalker. When I say terrible I mean my mom found me in the ditch, the car floorboard ( we didn't lock car doors in the 80's), all over the place when I was growing up. Some doctors have "creative" solutions others have down right scary ones. Use your mommy intiution.It sounds like your a new mom, trust me when I say to listen to your gut. This has been the best advice given to me by more experienced moms when I was unsure about things.

Some moms and doctors say not to wake your child up. I always woke up my son, completely woke up not half way. After calming him down, a wash cloth in the bathroom, we would talk about nice things he liked so when he fell back asleep his mind would be in a postiive place. Since then we always have a discussion while he lays in bed and I give him tummy rubs ( my hubby give back rubs). I put my hand inside his shirt and rub circles on his stomach counting to twenty slowly and softly then hugs and kisses and then bedtime. I feel that by creating these peaceful rituals they help him ease into sleep. His nightmares have been few and far between.

I began doing this after I realized that when I lay in bed, especially after watching Law and Order, my mind wanders into all of my anxieties. I thought maybe his mind did as well.

Good Luck to you and your family. J.



answers from Shreveport on

I just went through this with my 15-month old. The doctor said sometimes they are brought on by not getting enough sleep during the daytime naps. So I increased nap time, and they Night Terrors went away. Good luck.



answers from Houma on

My daughter had night terrors also. An interesting thing that my pediatrician shared with me was that night terrors are usually inherited. After checking with my parents, I too suffered with night terrors.

I was told that children with night terrors are usually from the age of 4 to 12. However, my daughter was the same age as your child. Night terrors are very frustrating. You can not wake them, or give them comfort as you would a child with a nightmare. You can only comfort them from a safe distance. If we tried waking my daughter she would thrash about.

It is difficult. The one comfort to ease our parental mind is that there is little to no memory of the night terror.

My daughter did outgrow it. She is five now and with have not had one in over two years.



answers from Knoxville on

I don't mean to sound bleak, but my daughter was having horrid and intense night terrors. We had taken her to a sleep lab and she became so upset during the process that she starting vomiting and we left. It was a harrowing experience for all of us. Shortly after this, I had her blood sugar tested at our pediatricians office. Turns out that she is a type 1 diabetic and she was having night terrors in response to high sugars. Of course, there were several other signs as well. Extreme thirst, wetting and hunger (with no apparent weight gain). Frequent or chronic yeast infections and unexplained irritability.
My younger brother also had them as a young child and they eventually just went away. No apparent cause or cure. I too had the same experience. I even tried to leave a few my sleep. One thing to remember is...DO NOT wake her up. This can be very traumatic and scare her terribly. I was told to hold my daughter close and talk calmly and say familiar and reassuring things until the episode passed. This seemed to work. Good luck with everything.



answers from Fayetteville on

My son had night terrors up until the age of 4. It was absolutely horrible. My husband and I bought some books to help us understand what was going on in his little head. Usually they were worse when he had been overstimulated that day (party, movies, etc), but sometimes they would happen when we couldnt figure out why. They are actually doing this in their sleep so they dont remember the next day. It was very hard for me because you feel like you should discipline that behavior when actually they cant help it. I would suggest reading up on it and knowing how to handle it.



answers from Little Rock on

Try a homeopathic medicine called "Calms Forte 4 Kids" It really helps my kids!



answers from Johnson City on

A. I had the same problem when I was little. I understand what your child is going through. It is a very scary thing. I would wake up in the middle of the night and I would feel very strange. I would hear things and feel like there were sand bags on top of me. I would cry and my mother would console me. The only thing that helped me was that I would go and get in the bath tub and sit and splash off. I could literally feel myself wake up. It's the weirdest feeling. But I always felt so much better after I would get out of the water and I could go back to sleep. My mother took me to the doctor and they diagnosed me with night terrors. There was nothing that they could do. Which that was a long time ago. The doctor told my mother that it was heriditary and I would out grow it. I did thank GOD! My grandfather use to have night terrors so I must have gotten them from him. I also watched a program on tv about night terrors and they said when you have a night terror that your brain is in deep sleep but are awake at the same time. That's why it is so bad. You might want to try and put your daughter in a tub full of warm water next time she has one. It may help her, it always helped me. Well good luck.

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