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Night terrors in 21 month old - what the hell do i do?? :'-(

(24 Posts)
theSuburbanDryad Wed 01-Oct-08 08:09:14

For the past couple of nights ds - who is nearly 21 months - has been waking up, absolutely terrified and sobbing but not really waking up. He has his eyes tightly shut the whole time but is shaking with fear.

He starts the night off in his own bed, which is next to ours, and then comes in with us at some point - he usually crawls in between us without waking us these days! I know that night terrors are not uncommon in toddlers but I didn't really expect them quite so soon - it's obviously distressing him but I can't seem to wake him or snap him out of it. He won't nurse or be cuddled and attempting to do so seems to distress him more.

Is there something I "should" be doing? sad Feel so bad for my poor little man...

TrinityRhino Wed 01-Oct-08 08:15:03

dd2 is 3 and a bit now and has been suffering night terrors for about a year now

she screams for mummy and shakes

I am right next to her talking to her but she screams for me and looks terrified

It really upsets me and can last for 3 to 10 ish mins

she is inconsolable and oftwen screams no
alwasy screaming for me

It really breaks my heart that she appears to be terrified and screaming for me but doesn't know that I';m there

when it is over she just suddenly quiets and goes to sleep

triggers I have noticed are being overtired

I have searched for answers to help her when its happening or prevent them and I have found nothing
sorry I cant be more helpful
I feel your pain

theSuburbanDryad Wed 01-Oct-08 08:17:38

Hmm - the overtired thing could be a trigger, he didn't go to sleep until gone 9 o clock last night.

I also wondered if moving him into a bed (from his cot) could have set him off? Whether he's not quite ready to be in a bed yet? We had to move him from his cot as he was getting far too big for it!

BecauseImWorthIt Wed 01-Oct-08 08:23:27

DS2 had this for a period of time, then it stopped just as suddenly as it started.

We discovered, quite by accident, that if we brought him downstairs and put the TV onto one of the music channels, that the music totally calmed him down.

Once he was calm, and we had had a cuddle (despite him being asleep really!) we could put him to bed as normal.

There was no apparent reason for the night terrors, or not one that we could work out, and then he stopped having them.

Bucharest Wed 01-Oct-08 08:23:34

My dd (now almost 5) used to have a lot of these....I just used to sit them out with her really...one interesting thing I read was that they can be caused when the child's feet are too hot- (sounds mad but...)
A couple of times when she was really bad, and wouldn't let me touch her or anything, I grabbed her and shoved a few drops of rescue remedy in her mouth which seemed to bring her out of it...

theSuburbanDryad Wed 01-Oct-08 08:25:52

The hot feet thing wouldn't apply to ds - he refuses point blank to have anything on his feet at all at night, kicks off duvet, has a massive tantrum if even shown a sleeping bag! grin He is a pain in the arse free spirit!

LostGirl Wed 01-Oct-08 08:30:26

So sorry for you, it is awful isn't it. DD had these from 6 months old and they could last up to an hour at times. There didn't always seem to be a trigger but over tiredness and also when she was ill definitely didn't help. They eventually became less frequent and stopped when she was 5. No helpful advice i'm afraid just hope that they stop soon.

elmoandella Wed 01-Oct-08 08:33:11

this may sound crackers. but my ds was talking about something that happened on one of the soaps, and in paticular that advert where the wee girl gets run over and comes back to life. he was mumbling about "car crashing and girl wis deed"

so we have started putting a kids dvd on instead of normal tv before bed. this seems to have stopped them.

i think that advert is far too scary to be shown at 7pm with the emmerdale.

fryalot Wed 01-Oct-08 08:34:46

hello you!

dd2 had night terrors.

Not entirely sure that they have ended, but she hasn't had one for a while.

Follow all the advice that people are giving you to try to stop them, but I'm not sure there is anything that will stop them.

There is nothing you can do when he is in the middle of one. It is awful watching them screaming in horror, but they don't remember it in the morning, and absolutely nothing you do will help.

We normally just hug dd2 throughout hers and wait for it to end. When it is over, she goes back into a really deep sleep and everything is fine in the morning.

Tis apparently linked to other sleep problems and is connected to the father's sleep patterns - does your dh sleepwalk?

fryalot Wed 01-Oct-08 08:35:16

(btw, twas nice catching up with you a little last night. we must do it again soon. sorry I'm not around so much nowadays sad)

sfxmum Wed 01-Oct-08 08:35:37

sorry about this it is pretty hard, dd has gone through periods of having these
I always think it is harder on us despite appearances
all I have tried to do is to keep night time routines relaxed and quiet full of positive things
someone said about being overtired, may well be true sleep seems harder to come by when the day goes by without quiet times to recover, particularly when they drop naps

theSuburbanDryad Wed 01-Oct-08 08:36:38

He does watch the Simpsons before he goes for his bath and then we watch an episode of his Night Garden dvd before he actually goes up to bed.

Having said that, I know dh (who usually does bedtime) watches videos with him on his laptop - usually the CBeebies bedtime stories or similar - maybe it's just too much stimulation before he goes to sleep?

I had heard somewhere that it was linked to language development - has anyone else heard this?

theSuburbanDryad Wed 01-Oct-08 08:38:52

Hey Squonk!! smile

Dh has very disturbed sleep and I suspect he may suffer with sleep apnoea (or however the hell you spell it!) as MIL does and has to have one of those breathing masks to keep her breathing in the night! shock

I wonder if ds could have it too? Is it genetic?

elmoandella Wed 01-Oct-08 08:57:35

how well you sleep is inherited.

i come from a family where you either mutter and shout, or walk about.

LostGirl Wed 01-Oct-08 11:37:35

Where did you hear about the connection to language development? Would be very interested to read about that as DD's was very slow and we still have some issues (finally have salt appointment after a 15 month wait angry)

oneplusone Wed 01-Oct-08 14:15:46

interesting that it may be linked with language development. DS is 29 months and a while ago was waking in the night crying and we had no idea why. He seems better now, but we have recently noticed his speech has come on hugely and he talks a little in his sleep as well (sounds really cute!).

So it could well be linked to an increase in speech.

theSuburbanDryad Wed 01-Oct-08 16:21:34

I think I probably heard about it during the child language development part of my English language a-Level, although I'm sure I read something about it in an Ian McEwan book as well (a fiction). Not very helpful, sorry.

Moondog is the one I should talk to about that, really, isn't she?

2HotCrossBunnies Wed 01-Oct-08 16:33:01

My Ds1 who is 3 also has night terrors which started at 22-24 months just after DS2 was born. I agree that it is more stressful for you than it is for them - like others my DS1 has no recollection in the morning which I find unbelievable as he screams and screams. However I don't quiz him about it either as that could also be scary and unsettling.

His terros sound exectly like Trinty's dd's. In the middle of a terror I don't think there's anything much you can do - except prevent injury if necessary. My DS progressed from thrashing about on the bed to getting up and throwing himself round the room. 1 night he even bloodied his nose sad. Anyway I just lift him back into bed and wait for it to pass - touching him makes it worse.

I have noticed a link to being overtired definiately and stress. His worst terrors after been around the time he was dropping his lunch time sleep, after stressful play dates etc. Also there may be something in the "hot" thing as in the height of a heat wave (hmm missed that this summer!) he tends to go off on 1 too.

Not so sure about the language thing as my DS has always had very good speech and was well ahead of his contempories at the time the terrors started. That said, he is a sensitive child and tends to worry more than others too.

I also think they grow out of it too. They are definitely less frequent than they were.

I found a helpful (albeit short!) bit on night terrors in Gina's sleep book.

Good luck and chin up - it won't last forever!

priscilla11 Thu 28-Feb-13 06:17:52

My 18 month old son is having night terrors almost every night, it is really getting to me seeing him in this state, he is inconsolable, my daughter had them when she was 2 and I didn't know what was wrong with her I even called an ambulance as I thought something really bad was going on lol the ambulance guys diagnosed night terrors so this time round I am more aware, apart from seeing your child in distress it really does take its toll on the parent I am writing this feeling totally exhausted this morning as this is 4th night in row and each episode lasts over an hour nothing I do helps I find myself putting baby tv on in the bedroom and lying there feeling like the worst mother in the universe as nothing I do helps him...you would think that there was more you could do for them. My five year old woke up last night and stayed awake for the duration so I'm sure looking forward to my day ahead with her being tired and me being tired..parenting...sure is a 24 hour job lol...

MumToTheBoy Thu 28-Feb-13 07:00:45

My ds is 7 and he has had night terrors about once a month since he was 18 months old.

We learnt the hard way that all we can do is stand in the dark part of his room, ie not in the doorway cos it means we appear as a sinister shadowy figure, and just say in a firm voice 'lie down, go back to sleep'

If we try to cuddle/ touch him it causes him great distress, cos to him we are the monster etc that is frightening him in the terror.

The hardest bit is when he is shaking and screaming for mummy/ daddy and we are right there but cannot comfort him.

The only thing that keeps us going really is the knowledge that he won't remember any of it the next morning so the terror aspect is gone as soon as he's back to sleep.

Night terrors usually happen within an hour of them falling sleep and usually only last about 20 mins. If you wake them it can cause great distress, same as sleepwalking, so it's best to just encourage them to go back to sleep so the terror ends.

I still find them horrifying after 5 + years of them so totally understand how scary they are when your baby is small still.

MumToTheBoy Thu 28-Feb-13 07:07:13

Sorry I missed the language part of the posts - my ds was an early speaker, 10 months for words and by 12 months was speaking in sentences. So not sure if there is a link.

HappyAsASandboy Thu 28-Feb-13 07:47:42

My twins are 2years 4months, and have been having terrors since just before they were two.

Sometimes taking them into the bathroom and putting the light on, looking in the mirror, talking loudly etc helps- I think it wakes them up properly, so them you can calm them down and then get them back to sleep with cuddles.

My DD in particular doesn't want anyone to touch her while she's screaming and thrashing sad it is very hard to sit and not comfort your child when she's terrified, but holding her seems to make it worse sad I regularly ask if she'd like a cuddle, because eventually she'll say yes, and then cling to me like a limpet while it all subsides into sobs.

It is harrowing for everyone involved sad

janus2014 Sat 01-Nov-14 11:54:49

My 4 yr old son has horrific night terrors and sleep walks its been happening a while now has them around 6 to 7 times a night i don't know what to do ive tryed alsorts and its commin to the state when im fearin he is gonna hurt himself he doesn't sleep normal he sleeps arched backwards cause he has had problems with his breathing and nearly lost him as a baby due to this ive seen a doctor and thay sent me a referral to camhs and I've got a letter today sayin the refusing to see him ....what do I do

NannyNim Sun 02-Nov-14 14:31:43

I have a 2yr old who suffers from night terrors but hasn't had one since turned the heating down in his room as we heard it is sometimes linked to being hot.

It's horrible to watch but the only thing we could do was sit with him and make sure he didn't hurt himself (he'd get up and wander around but wasn't awake enough to know where he was) and reassure him in a calm, low voice. Eventually he'd have a cuddle and go back to sleep.

It's tough but they really have no memory of it in the morning and is totally normal.

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