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Help my toddler is waking up hysterical

(14 Posts)
ParsleyCake Thu 26-Jan-17 01:54:57

We've been going through a rough patch with my 19 month old son. It's pretty standard (at least I'm told, for kids his age) tantrums during the day, loads of energy and seeming frustrated and bored, so we'll do an activity or take him out somewhere and he'll have a tantrum and have to carry him home whinging or screaming. Then he'll start again because he's tired or hungry.

He's our first so this is all really draining but it's what I expected so I'm not overly worried.

However at night it changes. He'll wake up at about 1am and then 3am and start crying. This isn't new, he usually settles immediately when I pass him his water cup or lay a hand on his tummy to settle him. Problem is now he'll become hysterical very quickly, whether I ignore him or not.

It's a weird kind of hysterical crying too. I've read about night terrors and this sounds like it, but I get the impression that he should be dazed and confused or not recognise me or something. Instead it's like he's throwing the most intense tantrum ever, to the point where he could be terrified or in intense pain and I'm frightened for him. But then il try to give him his cup, feel a moment of relief when he takes it, and I think maybe he'll take a drink and calm down. But then, after taking it (and he really goes to some effort to quieten down, get it from me and hold it firmly) he throws it at the wall or floor as if it is just a normal tantrum after all and it's all calculated. But then he'll go into hysterics again as if he is frightened to death or in pain.

I just don't understand. His tantrums during the day are no where near this level. Is this a night terror or a tantrum?

He has his own bed right next to ours, as we recently transitioned from sleeping in our bed to his own. It's been nearly a month and it was a smooth transition, so I'm sure it's not the problem. He has a healthy diet, eats fruit and veg and no juice and rarely sweets or chocolate. He has an hour and a half nap from about 12.30-2, which he takes consistently without problems and gets very grumpy if he goes without. He has a set bedtime routine and enjoys going to bed and sleeping. He used to consistently sleep through the night, only crying a couple of times before settling a few times a night and wake up at 7am or just after. Now it's often 5 - 6:30.

When he has these episodes he seems to want his daddy more than me, and he also calms instantly when he's taken over to his mobile and allowed to touch it, or out to the living room where his toys are.

I know I'm making it sound more and more like just a tantrum, but the intensity of his screaming is unbelievable and it just doesn't seem like a tantrum until he stops to throw his cup or calms to play with his toys or mobile. Like, I'm ready to call NHS 24 pannicking down the phone that my toddler has something badly wrong with him, crying like that.

What on earth is happening here? Leaving him to cry is not an option because he is very very loud and just goes on and on and on. We are in a one bed flat so there is no escape from the noise and our neighbours have a young son who we don't want to keep up. Tonight it has been so bad my partner took him through and is sitting watching cartoons with him, but this can't be something we keep doing.

FastWindow Thu 26-Jan-17 02:06:14

So he tantrums in the day, over what kind of thing?

ParsleyCake Thu 26-Jan-17 02:20:07

He tantrums when he is tired usually, and little things can set him off. Like if he wants to grab something he's not allowed, or if he's bored of his toys. Just the usual. I don't pick him up and cuddle him if he has one. I'll offer him a drink, a snack (if it's near snack time anyway) and if it seems that he's doing it because he's bored or tired, il move his nap time a little sooner or take him out for a walk to get rid of some energy. But if he's just screaming for attention or because he's being naughty il just get on with things and ignore him.

FastWindow Thu 26-Jan-17 02:33:15

He's too young to be wilfully naughty. I have a six year old and a three year old, and I find the quickest way to deal with the wanting attention is to give attention. Lots of it. But your 19mo should not have to make so much noise to get attention. At a year and a half, he should already have it?

FastWindow Thu 26-Jan-17 02:40:38

My three year old daughter starts giving out when she is tired or hungry. But she is three, and can be reasoned with, to a point. I will hold and cuddle and cuddle beyond what she thinks she needs. I ask her. 'do you need more cuddles, are you done crying? Because you can cry more if you want, but the cuddle is still here. So you can stop crying, but we can still have the cuddle.' she stops really quick.

AppleMagic Thu 26-Jan-17 04:41:24

It still sounds like a night terror/nightmare to me. I think sometimes they can be sort of half-awake so able to take a drink. Both of my eldest had/have them, from about your son's age until about 3-4years old.

Whatthefreakinwhatnow Thu 26-Jan-17 04:50:52

Did you mean to sound such a judgemental cow, FastWindow?!

OP, I have a DD the same age; she is showered with love and attention but still has some mega strops. It's perfectly normal, and view from frustration at the gap between what they want to say/do and what they can do.

Dd1 has night terrors a couple of times but was probably 3ish she definitely seemed asleep- was vacant, didn't know I was there etc so based near my experience I'd say he's not experiencing this but I may be wrong.

just be consistent in what you are doing and if it's a behaviour thing hopefully he'll stop doing it soon, as with any sleep regression they usually don't last too long.

Fluffybrain Thu 26-Jan-17 04:52:37

Yes does sound like night terrors. One of mine had them until about 4. Drove me crazy. Sounds like a normal toddler by day. You are doing everything right. Keep going. They do grow out of these things but it does feel like an eternity.

NC1nightstand Thu 26-Jan-17 05:00:21

Yep the dreaded night terrors. If you can (depending on waking others/neighbours etc) my advice would be to let him cry it out. I don't mean on his own, obviously go into him, let him know you are there, he is safe etc but I find that my ds gets over it quicker if I don't keep trying to wake him up out of it. Others have said the same to me and the health visitor wasn't bothered but still worth mentioning at clinic. I have 3 dc but only the youngest has had them. He can go months and months and then have them 3 nights in a row. Very distressing at first when you can't help them out of it. We have scrutinized his day, routine, meals, play etc and nothing stands out, they are just random and I am confident he will grow out of it. The only thing that seems to help settle him is making him a bit warmer, so I put socks on him and made sure he is toasty warm.
Here's to happy peaceful nights ahead, op!smilebrew

isthistoonosy Thu 26-Jan-17 05:27:01

Mine use to do this I found just sitting shhing and hugging him (he preferred cradle hold like a new born but I assume that varies) until he went back to sleep worked well. Over time, maybe 6 months they stopped and in that time calming got to the point I could just shh from.the doorway.

isthistoonosy Thu 26-Jan-17 05:35:20

Mine use to do this I found just sitting shhing and hugging him (he preferred cradle hold like a new born but I assume that varies) until he went back to sleep (although I was never sure if he was really awake) worked well. Over time, maybe 6 months they stopped.

He had a few when he was much younger around 9-10 months which were hunger (had to.give him a bowl of porridge, milk wasn't cutting it) which might be worth considering too.

ParsleyCake Thu 26-Jan-17 08:09:20

Thank you all so much, it's relieving to know no one thinks this is really unusual behaviour. It can be very worrying, especially as he shoves away from me and tries to go to his daddy. It makes me feel awful. FastWindow, I see what you are saying but I assure you he can be naughty, though maybe not in the way you are thinking. He also has plenty of attention, thank you for the thought though

LalaLeona Thu 26-Jan-17 09:20:41

Do you think he could be in pain with teething? Perhaps the molars

NowtAbout Thu 26-Jan-17 09:21:19

My daughter did this. Was really horrible for all of us. The only thing that works for her was taking her out of her bed and putting on Peppa pig.she could watch a couple of episodes and go back to sleep. Anything else just made it worse

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