10 responses

  1. Kate
    April 20, 2011

    Ah, night terrors: more terrifying for the parents than the kid, who never remembers a thing.

    One thing I would add: Amy is right in that you generally leave the kid alone during night terrors…unless he is in danger of hurting himself. My son would try to stand up while also thrasing around so badly that I was afraid he would smack his head on the crib. I would take him out as carefully as possible and restrain him as best I could until he finally calmed down enough to go back to sleep.

  2. Allonsee
    April 20, 2011

    My 2.5 will still have a night terror from time to time, mainly now when he has muscled past his nap and goes to bed early and exhausted – then the end of the first sleep cycle is just ear shattering.
    The only one I’ve ever been able to help with was the one where he was screaming “no no no no no” and finally I just started talking to him about how we could do something different and we could stop whatever he didn’t want to do and he did the collapse into happy sleep.

  3. Kate
    April 20, 2011

    I don’t have a lot of very helpful diagnosis-type advice beyond what Amy said, but I will share that I went though SEVERAL similar-sounding phases with my now two-year-old. We would wonder nightmares? night terrors? separate anxiety? really awful teething? sickness? Except for when he was sick (usually ear infections) we could never definitively figure out what the problems were, and yet they popped up every now and again. Eventually, though, they all ENDED. After a week or two or a month at most. I think the bottom line is that babies go through ups and downs with sleeping and you just have to try to get through it (it sucks, I know). If letting her sleep with you for part of the night is comforting for her now, then maybe suck it up and do it for the time being. It won’t be forever (even though it will feel that way at the time)

  4. Prof. Kitty
    April 20, 2011

    Any chance that it’s teething? I ask because my son is 8 months too and just got his first tooth recently, and it totally changed his sleep. He always got up 2-3 times a night anyway, but with this tooth thing he would wake up SCREAMING half an hour after I put him down, then every hour or so, or more often, and was just a wreck. After the tooth came in he was somewhat back to normal. During, the doc told us to give him Infant Tylenol for when he just seemed too miserable. In the daytime he is pretty chipper though of course gnawing and drooling on everything. Just another thought for this age.

  5. tami
    April 20, 2011

    just want to say that we, too, went through this with our daughter at about the same age. she spent a significant number of nights (or parts of nights) in our bed. eventually it passed, so just hang in there. it certainly *is* weird stuff though – thats for sure!

  6. Wallydraigle
    April 20, 2011

    I hope this doesn’t sound too evil, but it makes me feel better to know other people’s young babies did this, too. My first daughter, also a champion sleeper, did the same exact thing right around the same age. And everyone told me it couldn’t POSSIBLY be nightmares, and definitely not night terrors.
    .
    Pffft. Whatever. Something sure was going on. I finally read something about how total darkness in a room can actually contribute to worse nightmares. Since the sun came up directly into her window at 4am, I wasn’t taking the blackout curtain down, but I did put in a nightlight. Problem solved. She went back to sleeping that very night.
    .
    You might also want to check for scary shadows. I don’t know if 8 months is too early for kids to be affected by that or not, but a few months ago, that same daughter (now 2.5) started screaming one night after I’d rearranged the nursery. Turns out the night light was shining through the bars on the changing table, and it made a shadow on the ceiling like a big, angry toothy face. I even found it a bit unnerving.

  7. Kim
    April 21, 2011

    My daughter did the same thing, though her night terrors were when she was 3.  We made the mistake of waking her once, and never, ever repeated it because of the terror that waking inflicted on all of us.  Waiting it out, while making sure she wouldn’t hurt herself, was all that we could do.  After about 4-5 night terrors in a 3-4 month period, they stopped.  

  8. MR
    April 22, 2011

    My daughter did the same thing around that age. She was teething, and it would wake her up. The fact that you were actually able to comfort your daughter makes me think it ISN’T night terrrors. I have seen them firsthand with my niece, and nothing worked to comfort her, not even Mommy. Especially since your daughter kept reaching out to reassure herself that you were there, it seems like she is just doing that stage. My daughter did it several times. Every time she was sick or teething and I would go in there, she would learn after ONE NIGHT, that she could get me to come in. Several nights later when I was exhausted, a friend would remind me that she was totally playing me, and I would have to break her of the habit again. We did this a lot. I was a sucker. lol I learned to listen for her “I’m hurt” cry. Then she learned to throw in her “I’m hurt” cry when she wasn’t. See a pattern here? Some people say babies don’t manipulate, and while I don’t believe my daughter was doing it to be manipulative, she was definitely doing it because she wanted Mommy and had figured out a new way to get what she wanted. Didn’t mean it was in her best interest (a well-rested Mommy was WAY better for her), but babies don’t always know what is best for them. My daughter is great at playing Mommy. Luckily, I have gotten a little wiser. Regardless, go with what feels right to you. I repeated the cycle because there were nights where I really thought she was sick or in pain and needed me, and I wasn’t comfortable letting her cry. Then, several nights later when I was wondering how she could still be in pain even though her tooth broke through (or whatever) my friend would remind me that I was being played and I would then be comfortable letting her cry and go back to sleep. There is no one solution. Remember, YOU know your child best. What are your instincts saying? If you think she needs you, then be there for her. If you think she is playing you, re-teach her how to sleep through the night.

  9. Meredith
    April 24, 2011

    My daughter is 8 and still gets night terrors occasionally. She got them at age 2 and it was very standard stuff. They started again when she was 6 and were awful. Now, we’re old pros, but for a while the soothing thing did not work and the ONLY option (besides not sleeping at all) was to wake her up. It was awful and I have many guilt-inducing memories of yelling at her to “WAKE UP RIGHT THIS INSTANT!”

    I did discover that television worked wonders – I carried her downstairs screaming, turned on Hannah Montana and sat down. She instantly calmed and a few minutes later turned to me and asked, “Why are we watching tv in the middle of the night?”

    Also helpful was waking her up just before she entered one of those episodes. This only works if the child has a regular schedule to their night terrors. My daughter’s occurred at about 9:45pm, so I could go in at 9:30, wake her up, get her a drink and put her back to bed, which was usually enough to disrupt the cycle.

    We also had the problem of sleepwalking in addition to the terrors, and once she tried to leave the house, so be aware of that possibility too.

  10. Kelly Je
    April 27, 2011

    Night terrors going on consistently for an extended period of time (weeks/month) can also be related to/caused by sleep apnea (particularly if preceded by coughing), so if they continue for a period of time, it is a good idea to talk to your pediatrician about it.

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