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LATE night…


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I didn’t get things done that were scheduled to get done last night. Isn’t it funny how we have specific to-do lists………you know, the must-do-tonight-before-anything-else type of lists. And then something even more important trumps the list.

Our little girl was crying hysterically last night. Buckets of tears and “I’m so scaaaaared” repeated over and over as I’m rocking her little 3-year-old body. We think she’s having night terrors…but it’s hard to tell.

And it’s also hard to tell when it’s still real and scary to her and then when it’s being drawn out into a bit of I-need-a-bit-more-attention-so-I’m-going-to-drag-this-out-for-all-its-worth. She really is a sweet little thing.

Needless to say, the post for today is well, still in the camera and un-finished. No worries…..another day.

Anyone experience night terrors with their toddlers?

Any tips?

I know, not a typical post from me……but real life with the kiddos took over my scheduled evening of Make It and Love It time. No biggee…

No worries, we’re back to all smiles today!


  1. Michael and Brenda Smith says:

    My daughter has night terrors and nightmare's both. The terrors you have to wake them up then reassure them everything is okay and they usually go back to sleep. If she has nightmare's and is scared then we usually pray together and talk about how there is nothing that can really hurt her and that we are watching over her and it usually works.

  2. Jen says:

    We dealt with this for more than 3 year- every night. We were told our son was having night terrors but nothing helped. One day I was talking to an occupational therapist who suggested my son might have a sensory issue with pajamas. She suggested we put him to bed in only a diaper. It worked and he is finally sleeping through the night without screaming. We were so grateful. We normally put him to bed without pajamas now but have gotten away with a few nights in pajamas that he hasn't had whatever he had before. You might want to try it!

  3. PraiseJunky says:

    My son had night terrors for months and a godly woman shared a scripture that she had prayed with her children when they went through the same thing. It is Proverbs 3:24 – When you lie down, you shall not be afraid; yes, you shall lie down, and your sleep shall be sweet. – We changed it to first person and taught it to him so he could pray it over himself. After we began this the night terrors became much more infrequent and eventually stopped all together. Hope it helps!

  4. Rich, Britt, and Nate says:

    I had a similar problem with my two year old, but it was in the middle of the night. I took him in and he ended up having ear infections, not signs of them we could tell, but sure enough he had them. They said he would wake up in the middle of the night in pain but it would scare him and make him a little disorientated.

  5. Maggie Reno says:

    Here's a few things that helped us:
    1. Acknowledge their fears. Monsters (or unreal scary things) may not be real, but they are still going to freak your kids out.
    2. Kids have an over-active imagination and fear is often caused by mis-direction of that imagination. So turn their fears into fun. (We turned monsters into tickle monsters and it turned into a game to scare them away, he would laugh and after a week stopped talking about them.)
    3. Develop a very good night time routine and bed-time. Having a set routine makes the child less stressed.
    4. Learn about anxiety and how to help kids overcome it.
    5. They have a lot of great information and their CD works great.
    Most of all – have patience as you work through it. They need your love more than ever!

  6. lorchick @ ON{thelaundry}LINE says:

    My daughter had night terrors for a while (I say for a while but no doubt they'll make appearances again whenever there is a 'stresser' in her life.) and all I could do was see if I could wake her up because that would snap her out of it. I often couldn't though. Night terrors are so hard. She would strike out at us sometimes, sleeping still and yet screaming and hitting or pushing at us. Our niece did it til she was like six or seven, whenever there was a large stresser in her life like a move, a new baby, or going to school for the first time.

    For nightmares, on the other hand, she likes something tangible. I'll try and get something specific out of her – it's been spiders, monsters, and once it was that daddy ate all the yoghurt. Yup, a bit dramatic, that one. So for spiders we look around and find none. For monsters we pull out the spritz bottle of water and spritz around 'because monsters hate water'. and for the yoghurt we made sure there was yoghurt in the fridge LOL.

  7. Alyssa says:

    My 5 year old has nightmares and is then scared for about a week after. We've done a few things that help – we made a sign for her door that says "no monsters, ghosts or bad guys allowed". She helped me make it – we went to Google Images and googled "Cartoon monster", "cartoon ghost" and "cartoon bad guy" and came up with 3 images (the bad guy is Captain Hook – her choice!). Then I took a dinner plate and red marker and drew a circle around them with a line through it. We put it on her bedroom door and even the front and back doors to the house for a while. We also have "ghost repellent" which is a spray bottle of water that I spray on her pillow and on her door when needed. Maybe one of those tricks will work for you if it's nightmares and not night terrors.

  8. englandmom14 says:

    my daughter has had night terrors off and on since she was attacked by a dog 7 years ago. (she also has PTSD and anxiety discorders). children do not realize when they are having a night terror. they also seldom remember anything when it is over or the next day. all you can do is hold them and try to keep them from getting hurt and hope the comfort comes through. it is really scary for the parents/siblings to watch. not much to be done about it though. they can also have nightmares in the same night. weird stuff! usually daytime stress or fears can be the cause. make bedtime a safe and happy time for her. try not to talk about the terrors etc… comfort is most important! good luck.

  9. Being who I am says:

    This remedy may sound a little odd but it worked with my nephew when he had night terrors (he was 2 -3 yrs old)….just after your daughter falls asleep, uncover her feet…and don't put socks on her before she goes to bed either. I have no idea why sleeping with their feet uncovered works but not only did it work for my nephew but I've read other accounts of it working for people.

    Good luck!

  10. ~Katie~ says:

    Bri sometimes does that, but not as much as she use to. She would just scream and scream (you might have heard her a few doors down) ;o) . Anyhow, we would do our best to wake her, sometimes that was just holding her and sometimes that would be nearly yelling for her to wake up or lights on or getting our hand wet and putting it on her face (she would also get very sweaty and hot sometimes). Then get a little drink, some smoothing words, and back to bed. Like most, it happened when she was overly tired or didn't get some wind down time before bed. Good luck!

  11. Jocelyn says:

    My son went through this for almost a year. It is very tiring and extremely frustrating to have your child kick and scream and cry at you no matter how hard you try to help him. We tried almost everything to help him. I found a couple of things that really worked. Before he went to bed we would talk about what he wanted to dream about and we got real specfic…i.e. color of clothes, the weather, who was in the dream and what they were doing. The more details the better.

    We also took him off of all processed sugar (we had the most success with this…hard but worth it) I knew that if he had sugar during the day (in any amount) we were going to have very bad night terrors. If I was going to let him have sugar I let him have a lot. No point in wasting a good nights sleep for a small piece of candy.

    The other thing that we did was timed the night terrors (they usually happen at the same time every night) we would wake him up about 15 minutes before they usually happened. After a couple nights of doing that it worked also.

    I hope these suggestions work. Gook Luck

  12. Marlatt Five says:

    My oldest had nightmares when we moved from oregon to utah. people told me it was her way of going through the change/new environment?. Anyway we got this book Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep by Joyce Dunbar. Other than that I really think it's something they have to grow out of. Hope it gets better for you!

  13. Razzle Dazzle Berry says:

    My 3 yr od daughter thinks there is a bear in her room and cries and yells at night. I have to remember that this a a real fear for her and to help her over come it by facing the fear. We have tried many things, different things and things are getting better but don;t make her feel like you don't believe her fear, no matter how silly it may be to you at times.

    With the "bear" we gave her a water bottle that she could use to mist it away, a night light helps, we covered and moved the dresser thinking that was the bear and others. After time she is getting much better. We even bought her a new "nice bear" that she could sleep with to scrae the other bear away.

    Every kid is different, good luck. :)

  14. eakuban says:

    Our 5 year old daughter has had spirts of them on and off. When they happen, we go in together and pray over her and for her and cover our home in prayer. God comes in and takes over.

  15. Tiffany says:

    My little guys has those too. He has a very loved teddy bear that seems to help. The other thing that I have noticed works…sometimes…is to talk in a very quiet, soft voice & talk about something good. More like leading his dream. I talk about the park, swimming, or something that he likes. It doesn't work everytime.

    I have heard that you shouldn't wake them up, but I'm not sure about that!

  16. Kristi says:

    My son is 2 & 1/2 and lately has been telling us there are monsters and ghosts in his room. Funny thing is we have no idea how he even knows those words! It's so hard to put him to bed because nothing we do (monster 'spray', daddy checking, etc) makes them go away for him :(
    I hope your little one doesn't remember her nightmares and I hope she gets over them quickly!

  17. Missy Bryner says:

    We have been dealing with night terrors and night mares with our 4 year old daughter even since she turned 3. It is so hard to deal with! The doctor told us that night terrors are when they don't wake up and there is really nothing you can do to console them. Night mares on the other hand are a little easier to deal with. My husband and I had a permanent blanket/bed set up on the side of our bed for about a year. When she would come in scared we would tell her she could lay in her bed on the floor or go back to her room (we didn't want to start the habit of her sleeping in bed with us). That worked for a while, but the last 3 months we have been up for hours at a time with a little girl who is too scared to go back to sleep! We were told to make sure she falls asleep in a relaxing/calming environment. So, for her 4th birthday she got an MP3 player. We put all of her favorite songs on it (lots of Taylor Swift) and she has slept through the night for over a week straight! It is amazing what a full night's sleep can do for your body! Good Luck! I hope this helps:)

  18. Tonia says:

    My 2 oldest had them. They would cry and scream and talk incoherently. I would do my best to comfort them without waking them up. They would get them if they were over tired or ate too much sugar.

  19. Craftify It! says:

    I have a 3 yr old boy who is taking all of my sleep right now with night terrors! They are not every night, but they are a few times a week & it is so hard, because I try to comfort him, but I usually reach a point where I feel like there is nothing I can do to help. It is hard not to get frustrated in the middle of the night…

    There are 2 things that have helped. I REALLY watch what he sees on TV. I used to think the morning cartoons were no biggie, but he was seeing "scary" things on Caillou & Word World,etc. AND when he wakes up and nothing else calms him down, singing almost always works. Good luck!

    I promise none of us readers care that you put off your post! Family first!:)

  20. Katie says:

    I have a 3 month old so we aren't there yet. I just wanted to comment that your daughter is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!

  21. Missy says:

    I actually just asked my dr about this yesterday cuz my little girl is having them a couple nights a week.

    He said that they usually happen around the same time every night and in deep sleep (so a few hours after they go down). He said that if you disrupt the sleep pattern it should help.

    He told me to figure out about when she is having them, then wake her up about 20 minutes before that happens. Keep her awake for about 5 minutes, then lay her back down. You may have to do this for about 2 weeks, but studies have shown that it changes the sleep patterns so they shouldn't have them any more.

  22. Katie says:

    We just got over that with my 2 year old (knock on wood). He is on a medication that says a side effect could be night terrors, so I felt terrible just leaving him to cry it out when he was crying "mommy, scared!" My husband got a water spray bottle and sprayed "Monster Spray", then told my son to scare them away by roaring at them. We also let him pick out his own new night light for his room. We were at our wit's end because he would cry until he'd throw up- EVERY NIGHT!!! We haven't had a problem with the "I'm scared's" at night since. (He does still tell me things are scary during the day, but it's never an issue) Good Luck!

  23. Ashlee & Christian says:

    If it is not night terrors and nightmares then try keeping a spray bottle in her room. We have done that recently with my sons and then he gets to spray whatever the 'bad thing' is away. They get their mind occupied in the spraying and then think they have gotten rid of whatever it was. It really helps to settle them down quickly as well as teach them how to get rid of it on their own.

  24. nopinkhere says:

    We've had a few instances of true night terrors and the only solution was bright lights and yelling to get him to really wake up. It hasn't happened often thank goodness. Now bad dreams and waking up crying–that's nearly every night. But he calms down quickly and goes right back to sleep.

  25. Samantha says:

    Our experience with night terrors (and both of our girls have had them) is that they don't wake up. They scream or cry, but they are asleep. We rock them away, tuck them in, and they never know they even had one.

    She might be having bad dreams or just needing attention. Be careful about her TV watching and have a before bed routine with plenty of attention (snuggles, a story, prayers, etc.) and see how it goes.

  26. Love Our House says:

    If they are night terrors she won't actually wake up during them. It's nigh to impossible to actually get them conscious in the middle of one. Probably just the imagination taking turns for great exploration at that age. Good luck!

  27. Tammie says:

    had a son who did that a lot when he was a toddler. A lot of the time he was still asleep while screaming and couldn't remember keeping me up at night. They do outgrow it usually by age 5 or 6. But I learned the best thing to do was to get them to wake up fully. I guess night terrors is a lot like sleep walking they look like they are awake but they really are NOT. And from what I understand although they seem to be super frightened usually once they are awake they don't even remember it. I was told to give them something to eat or drink to help them wake up fully. I think whatever you can do to help them wake up so they can go back to sleep peacefully!

    I also wondered about a spray bottle or bucket of water to wake them up with! ;)

    I did find that trying to hold them and comfort them didn't work because well they were not actually awake. Seems kind of wierd to want to wake up your child in the middle of the night. But it stops the crying and screaming. And they go back to sleep quickly so you can too!

    Good Luck!

  28. vigues says:

    Our doctor told us to wake up the child (just jostle them awake, not get them all the way awake) 1/2 hour to 1 hour after they fall asleep, then let them sleep through the night. He said it can become a pattern for the body and waking them up a bit disrupts it. You do this for a while and it "resets" their bodies. Our daughter only had nightmares, but he swore by it. Good luck–it's so rough when your kid is having a rough time!

  29. Lettie says:

    I didn't read through the comments, so this may be a repeat. Our son had night terrors when he was around 2. It is so sad. He would scream and cry and was still completely asleep. I would just hold him and give him soft pets. It happened a few nights in a row and then stopped. Then a few months later the same thing again. WE never tried waking him up, just kind of let him work through it and just held him. It's been well over a year and a half (or more) since he's done this. I don't think there really is anything you can do to prevent it.

  30. aubrey says:

    I would also point out that we could tell, as I am sure you could with your child, when he was looking at us but not really seeing us. His eyes would be very vacant looking and we could tell when he was "back" because you could see in his eyes when he really saw us. At that point we'd calm him down and put him back to bed quickly so he didn't get in the habit of being up late at night.

  31. Tristie hearts Dax says:

    my boys both did that. my husband would put on a movie so that it would divert their attention to something else and kind of "wake them up" gently and bring them out of the hysterics. It is hard to deal with because it truly can go on and on and they are not even aware of it I don't think.

  32. Chris says:

    My son had night terrors when he was a toddler. I cut out any foods with MSG and they stopped right away! It may be worth looking at. I was surprised all the foods that contained it.

  33. Lauren vdH says:

    I was babysitting my nephew when he had woke up from a night terror. It was really hard to wake him up, but a cold glass of water worked that time. His mom says that only works sometimes, so good luck! I like the idea of running their hands under cold water. I hope one of them works!

  34. aubrey says:

    My oldest used to get night terrors. Like all the above comments I'll point out that when your child is having night terrors they aren't actually awake. I can remember the way my son used to look right through us when we were trying to console him, it can be scary. We never found a way to snap him out of it or to calm him down, the thing just had to run its course and we just tried to make sure he didn't hurt himself while he was having one.

    Anyways, he got occasionally got them was over tired but his big trigger seemed to be if he got too warm while he was sleeping. We did away with footie pajamas, wouldn't let him wear socks to bed, and turned on his ceiling fan and night time. That helped him a TON!

    I have also heard that it is a hereditary thing that is related to sleep walking, which my Mother In Law used to do as a child. Dad passed on all the cool stuff…

  35. Andrea :) says:

    My daughter had night terrors (hoping she is over them now) and they were scary at first when I didn't know what was going on.
    Then when we found out what it was and how to deal with it, it was fine.
    As many others have said, you just soothe them the best you can until it ends, and when they wake, they ahve no memory (thankfully).
    The more you can learn, the better it will be for you and her. Good Luck

  36. Lone Rose says:

    How strange! My son, who is 3, has just started to go CRAZY at bedtime. He is fina all day, but come seven o'clock and he screams like mad!
    It's incredibly difficult knowing how to react, especially with my son. He has always had this special cry, like he is really being hurt. With my other son you can easily tell if he is angry or upset.. Not with Noah! But that said, i know he is not upset, just not agreeing with me telling him to sleep ;)
    But it IS so hard!

  37. kimberly says:

    My son used to do that, also when he was 3, and we finally put a small mattress on the floor of our bedroom that he could come lay on if he was scared in the night. This doesn't help with the night terrors, since they are not awake, but it helped with normal nightmares/fears. Our son was able to come in without waking us up and still feel safely close to us. We made a sticker chart for the nights he was able to stay in his room the whole night, with a prize at the end. (this way he wouldn't be tempted to come in EVERY night and he could manage small fears himself). We still have a fold up mat by the bed that any of the kids can use when they are feeling scared or lonely, and of course, for big stuff we still get woken up.

    We also have a "monster/bug/whatever spray" that we can spray under the bed and in the closet to keep the scary stuff away.

    Oh, and I also found that it happens more often when the kids are over tired, just like Alyson above said.

    Hope that helps! :-)

    Oh! My husband also says that many medications can cause nightmares as a side effect…the most common in children being antihistamines. It doesn't happen with every child, but if she has allergies and is on meds for it, that might be something to look into.

  38. Julie says:

    A few of our kids have had them randomly. In fact, our 15 month old has them. Just starts screaming bloody murder in the night but isn't really awake. We have found the best thing to do is to get them up, turn on the lights and help them wake up. That usually does the trick. Then they just go back to sleep. It's weird though, because there eyes can be open while they are screaming but they aren't really awake!

  39. Mary says:

    My 3 and 5 year olds have bad dreams and recurring fears…. At night, when I lay them down to bed, I "eat" their bad dreams. They each take a turn to hand me a fear or a bad dream, and I put it in my mouth, chew it up, and swallow it. This seems to help us… I hope you find something to soothe her frightened nights… best wishes!

  40. Cutie Pi Creations says:

    My son had night terrors between the ages of 2 and 4. It happened when he was over tired. He went to sleep just fine but usually within an hour (2 hrs at the most) of falling asleep he would wake up crying hysterically. Wasn't truly awake, eyes open and glazed over, and nothing could console him. A couple times we tried waking him but it never worked and then we read not to do that. So we would just hold him and let him cry and it would usually last about 20 mins. He would never remember it the next day. It is so scary as a parent though and so hard to not being able to console them.

    You will know its night terrors if they aren't awake (eyes can still be open) and they don't remember it the next day.

  41. tweedlediva says:

    My 3 year old has night terrors and has also been know to sleep walk. The only way that we can get him to snap out of it and wake up is to take him into the bathroom and run his hand under cold water. It usually does the trick and then he's able to calm down and fall back asleep.

  42. Amanda says:

    Don't you love how they smile at you:) They don't ever fully now the stress it puts a parent under to see their child suffering or scared, but a smile helps to make it more bearable. I hope that she continues to smile and the night mares go away. I have wondered if night terrors are genetic because my husband had them when he was younger. I wait for Asher (2 1/2) to wake up screaming, but nothing yet. (Just lots of sleep talking)
    Good Luck

  43. Alyson Tolman says:

    My son had night terrors. Anything we did seemed to make it worse because he wasn't awake enough to realize what was happening. Sometimes he would be talking to us, but it just didn't seem like he was really there. It was quite frightening. We found the best thing to do was make sure he was safe, rub his leg or hold im (although sometimes that made it worse) and it would eventually end. His trigger seemed to be tiredness. When we were careful to protect his sleep he didn't have them, but when his schedule was messed with they would appear again. I was sure he was terrified, but in the morning he didn't usually remember it had happened. I'm pretty sure now it was much more stressful for us than it was for him. Good luck. He grew out of them. Thank you for the reminder that I need to be thankful for that!

  44. Janel says:

    My daughter has night terrors – its is horrible!!! She screams and kicks and cries and breaks my heart. You will know if its a night terror if she is not awake screaming.

    The only way that I can ever get her to calm down is to turn the lights on and literally YELL her name – I have to actually get her to wake up to calm down. Its really hard.

    One night she was kicking me and screaming "I want my mommy".

    This happens at our house a couple times a week. I'm so sorry that she (and you) are having to go through that.

    I think the short answer is that there really isn't anything that you can do to prevent the nightmares – if it continues much longer at our house, I'm going to call her ped.

  45. Diana says:

    My bet is it's probably not a night terror- kids usually don't remember night terrors:

    My little one has yet to hit the nightmare age- so no advice from experience. Just keep lovin' on her and help her feel secure at night. I've heard good things about guided relaxation.

    Hugs to you- troubled sleep is tough on the whole family!

  46. Alisa says:

    my daughter {who is now 16} had night terrors when she was about 2years to about 3 1/2 years old. Normally it only happened when she was overly tired. In a true night terror {as I've been told by doctors} the child never actually wakes up so you can't really converse with them. she would just scream and cry and I would just hold her and love on her until she fell back asleep. They were so overwhelming because there isn't much you can do. I pray that it will get better for her {and you}.

  47. [M] says:

    my kids get them when they go to bed over-tired…either a missed nap or a too late bed time. although if she is talking it might not be a terror, just a bad dream. terrors usually happen fairly soon after they go to sleep (couple hours) good luck:)

  48. Stephanie says:

    My niece does the exact same thing and she too is three years old. I'll ask my sister in law and see what her take on it is.
    I know it must be hard on y'all because there isn't much you can do and you want them to know it's okay. I hate y'all are dealing with night terrors…good luck!

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