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So my DS keeps waking up screaming at night. He doesn't really do it every night, seams lit only his last 2 naps if he is going to do it. I don't like it....Sometimes all I have to do is pick him up and put his passy back in his mouth and he is fine and will go back to sleep, sometimes I have to cuddle him for 20-30 min. DH says no reason to call the dr....

Have any of your babies done this?


So DH and I noticed he will do it for 2 nights and the next day he poops A LOT!!! Then doesn't do it again. He has done it in that exact pattern for 2 weeks.

by on Jan. 29, 2013 at 12:39 AM
Replies (11-15):
by on Jan. 29, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Yes, my son goes through phases like this.  It's usually when he has a growth spurt or is teething.

by Silver Member on Jan. 29, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Baby / Toddler Night Terrors and Nightmares: Part 1

Night TerrorsWelcome to part 1 of my Baby / Toddler Night Terrors and Nightmares series where I will discuss the different types of night terrors and nightmares your baby or toddler can have, the age they start, the age they stop, the difference between the two and how you should handle each, because the way you handle each is different. We’ll kick off this series by discussing night terrors (aka sleep terrors).

Night Terrors – What are they?

Many people use the term night terrors to describe a lot of different behavior at night. Whether or not you believe in cry it out or its many variations, Ferber(where the term “ferberizing” comes from) is the director of The Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders in Boston, MA and clears up that there are things called “confusional events” (or partial wakings) and something else called “sleep terrors”. I will describe each of them so you will be able to know the difference. As always, I try to limit too much sleep science talk because it’s really technical (and pretty boring if you are not obsessed with sleep as much as I am), but if you are interested in more I highly recommend reading Ferber’s book who does a thorough job in explaining everything.

You might remember beginning around 4 months oldwhen we first fall asleep, it’s a transition into the deepest sleep of the whole night. This process takes approximately 30 minutes from bedtime for babies as they go into deep sleep faster than adults. The first sleep cycle lasts about 60 to 90 minutes and your baby (and you) will wake briefly as she transitions into the second sleep cycle, which is also deep sleep. The first few hours of sleep of the night is (supposed to be) the deepest. It is during this transition between sleep cycles that you wake briefly. You might roll over or you might pull the cover up over you. It is usually brief and you go right back to sleep. This is NORMAL to wake briefly. Sometimes, however, this process is not so smooth and not so quick and explains why your baby sometimes wakes up crying. Or, do they?

Confusional events typically happen within the first two sleep cycles or between 1 and 4 hours after bedtime. What happens is part of your mind is trying to go back to sleep and part of your mind is trying to wake up and they are both trying to win. There is a wide spectrum as to how that might play out. Your baby might moan, mumble, fuss, or move around for a few minutes and go right back to sleep. That would be a mild confusional event. This is when most people are sleep talking. People think this is when someone is dreaming, but in reality, this is during a NON-dream state. This explains why my husband doesn’t remember what I’m talking about when I tell him something he said the night before.

If the event is a bit more intense, your toddler might sleep walk. She may walk up to you and seem to see right through you. Her eyes might be open, but she is still mostly asleep. Most kids won’t ever remember this happening. It could be a bit more pronounced such as a child jumping out of bed and moving around the room. She might seem upset or confused and may even say things like “No! Stop!” but not really appear too frightened. She might not recognize you and might push you away if you try to hug or touch her. It will likely be virtually impossible to either wake her or console her.

If your baby or toddler (or you) have a true night terror (or sleep terror), it will be more sudden than a confusional event that builds up gradually. Your child will do something like sit straight up in bed and let out a bloodcurdling scream. Her heart will beat fast and she might be very hot and sweaty. She will probably look very terrified and may be screaming things like “Stop!”, “No!”, “Help!” It usually lasts from 1 to 5 minutes and if she wakes at the end will probably not remember anything. It is rare, but some kids will jump out of bed and run around and “run away” from whatever appears to be chasing her. Again, this is very rare.

Night Terrors – Age they start and stop

Partial wakings and confusional events are normal and happen from birth. The “confusion” comes in when your body’s drive to sleep is met with your body’s drive to wake. An example is when you are asleep and you hear the baby crying. You get up, walk to her room and start to feed her before you are fully awake. You might not even remember how you got into the room. Part of your mind was awake and part of it was asleep. If you are confused, you might go in the bathroom instead of the baby’s room and then wonder what you’re doing up when you hear the baby crying and finally your brain starts to wake up. From birth, there will be times during sleep transitions that your baby’s drive to sleep is being challenged by the drive to wake up and your baby might cry or fuss between sleep cycles. This is why it’s important to not interrupt the process of going back to sleep, if you can help it. We want the drive to sleep to win.But, just as an alarm clock is meant to wake you up fully, we, parents, wake our babies up by getting them up too soon, sometimes.

True night or sleep terrors most often happen to adolescents and preadolescents (so 10 to 18 years old), though younger kids might have similar events and of course, everyone is unique. The good thing is that most likely if your baby or toddler appears to be having a night terror, most likely it is a confusional event in which he is not truly frightened. And, in either case, they typically don’t remember either.

Night Terrors – How long they last

Confusional events and night terrors last from a few minutes to up to 40 minutes and typically not longer than that. These are NOT dreams and explains why your child won’t even remember them in the morning. It also explains why you may not be able to comfort him if he is crying or screaming. Night terrors are usually a shorter 1 to 5 minutes.

To recap, confusional events generally occur in the beginning of the night as your baby or toddler is coming out of deep sleep and transitioning into the next sleep cycle. He might roll over, moan, mumble, move around a bit, fuss / cry a bit and typically go right back to sleep. If he is having a more intense event, he might stand up in his crib, get out of bed and come into your room. A night terror, typically starting around 10 years old, will be much more intense beginning suddenly and ending within a few minutes.

Stay tuned for part 2 where I will explain what nightmares are, when they occur at night, what age they start and when they stop in babies and toddlers. If you haven’t already, you might want to get free updates in your e-mail inbox or via your favorite feed reader, so you won’t miss a thing!

by Silver Member on Jan. 29, 2013 at 4:08 PM
1 mom liked this

Baby / Toddler Night Terrors and Nightmares: Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of the Night Terrors and Nightmares Series. If you are just joining us, you might want to start with part 1 where I go over night terrors in babies and toddlers.

What are Nightmares?

Nightmares are very scary dreams. They usually start as a normal dream and then they take a turn for the worst. We don’t remember every dream or nightmare. It’s only when we wake up at the end do we remember them, even if we just wake up briefly.

What age do nightmares start?

This, they don’t know for sure, but they do know by one year old, a child can definitely have a nightmare. It makes sense that it can and does happen sooner, but it’s hard to say how complex a dream can be at one day, one month, or 6 months old, but since nightmares occur during our “active sleep” (during rapid-eye-movement (REM) for those who want to know a bit more about the technical terms), it is possible even your newborn can have a dream and therefore, a nightmare. Newborns spend a good amount of time in this stage of sleep.

Since a one-year old can’t talk or express himself that well, it’s hard to know just how complex his dreams are, but by two years old, when the imagination has really started to come alive, nightmares can get very specific. However, at this age, although they might understand a nightmare is just a dream and have idea about what a dream is, when he wakes up, he might not fully understand the dream is over and still remain scared for a bit later.

As your child gets older, the understanding between dream and reality will get better and by 5 years old, she will have a much bigger grasp of the difference between dream and reality. Even when your child is older, it doesn’t mean the dreams won’t be scary, but they may not always need you to come for help (which I’m sure is a bittersweet feeling).

All children are different in their development, so the age that your child may or may not need you after a nightmare will vary.

Why do we have nightmares?

Everyone has nightmares at one time or another, but those with more emotional tension or upset during the day will probably have more nightmares, because nightmares usually come about from the daily struggles in your day. This will also depend on how sensitive the dreamer is. Nightmares are a very normal part of your child’s development and working through daily’s life struggles.

Night terrors vs. Nightmares

We learned last week when I described night terrors, that it’s important to distinguish night terrors from nightmares because how we resolve them will be very different. Night terrors or other confusional events will not result in your child being fully awake afterward, but with a nightmare, he will be and he will be clearly frightened.

With Night terrors you usually figure out your child is having one in the middle of it happening, but in a nightmare, you will only know it happened after it’s over and your child is awake and scared. It is also important to note that nightmares usually occur in the second half of the night while night terrors typically happen within the first few hours of the night. It is often hard to settle or calm a child having a night terror and he isn’t fully awake barely responding to you, but once it’s over he goes back to sleep quickly. After a nightmare your child will feel comforted by you, but may or may not go back to sleep as easily depending on the age of your child and how scary the dream was.

Nightmares can be very scary and there are ways to try to limit night terrors and nightmares, how to handle each when you’re in the thick of things, and how to discourage any bad habits from forming. If you need help on dealing with your toddler’s night terrors or nightmares, I encourage you to consider purchasing our comprehensive e-Book on toddler sleep, The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep. You can also contact me. I’d love to help!

by Member on Jan. 30, 2013 at 12:12 AM

My son does it.  His doctor said he's having night terrors.  I literally have to rock him for up to two hours some nights before he will go back to sleep.  He's two and 29 lbs, so my arms obviously get tired when I have to do this at 3 am.  He's stopped doing it as much lately.  Hope your DS grows out of it.

by on Jan. 30, 2013 at 8:40 AM
Me tooo it scares me that something else is going on that i cant c

Quoting Tay06:

My son does it.  His doctor said he's having night terrors.  I literally have to rock him for up to two hours some nights before he will go back to sleep.  He's two and 29 lbs, so my arms obviously get tired when I have to do this at 3 am.  He's stopped doing it as much lately.  Hope your DS grows out of it.

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