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Baby Night Terrors For Parents: What to Do?

Do you often wake up in the middle of night with the terrified scream of your baby?  You reach out quickly to your baby to provide comfort but that does not really help.

If this is the case with you, your baby may be experiencing night terrors.  

Night terrors commonly start at the pre-school age but also happen though rarely, in infants starting around the age of 18 months.

However you don’t need to be worried about it too much. But definitely, you should make yourself aware of the possible signs of night terrors, what can you do to help your baby in such a condition and also how you can prevent it.

This article focuses on all these aspects. Let’s have a look further to know more.

Signs of Night Terrors

Night terrors usually start early in the night time sleep cycle when your baby moves from deep to light sleep.  They can be for a shorter duration or last up to 45 minutes with your baby remaining sleep during and after the occurrence.

Below are some common behavioural signs of night terror in babies:

You need to mindful of the fact that even if your baby’s eyes are open, they are still asleep and thus may not respond to your attempts to soothe them. 

Good thing here is that unlike adults, your baby will fall back into deep sleep and will not be able to recall the episode in the morning.

 Night terrors generally occur only once a night.

Causes of Night Terrors

Though exact causes of night terrors are not yet known, few possible causes observed are as below:

  • For babies, every day is new and exciting.  This leads to stimulation in their central nervous system (CNS) which is still at a developing stage. If the CNS gets overstimulated, it can become the cause of Night terrors.
  • Night terrors may also happen during the days of sickness, being very tired, undergoing certain medications, new sleep environment or stress.
  • Also if there is a history of night terrors in family, it makes the baby more prone to these kinds of terrors.

How Can You Treat Night Terrors?

It is little disappointing to read, but the best possible thing to do for your baby at this time is not to do much. 

Do not think of waking up your baby during the night terror. This can further confuse them and make it difficult to resume sleep. We understand that as parents, it is difficult to watch thy symptoms of night terrors but do not forget that your baby will not remember it in the morning.

Observe your child signs and ensure safe surrounding.  Make sure that there is nothing in their crib or on bed that can hurt them.

Also let the baby’s care giver know about it in case you are not around at night.

Preventing Night Terrors

There isn’t anything to stop night terrors as such but you can follow some steps to reduce its occurrence:

  • Try following a bed time routine for your infant.

 It is one of the biggest challenges of this age but there are things you can do to provide for more sleep to your child.

Do not over burden yourself. If it is your first child, you need to know the number of hours of sleep required for your infant. As per the American Academy of Paediatrics, infants of 4 to 12 months need 12 to 16 hours of sleep a day, including naps and 1- to 2-year-olds need 11 to 14 hours of sleep per day.

Following a bed time routine is something that can help you in providing these many hours of sleep to your baby. Inculcate a few daily habits, like brushing your baby’s gums or reading out a book and taking him to bed at that same time every day. 

  • Ensure that your baby does not get overtired. One sign you can notice of tiredness is baby rubbing his eyes.  
  • You have to be mindful of your baby’s observations and avoid him being stressed.
  • Try not deviating from the fixed bed time routine when travelling.

Night terrors usually outgrow with your child reaching adolescence. However, it is better to share it with your paediatrician about the signs and pattern of your baby’ behaviour during night terrors. If you feel, you can forget about the signs, try keeping a diary that may help the doctor understand it properly.  

While night terrors can be stressful or scary for the parents, these are least harmful for the child.