I was thinking of calling this post, night terrors, before I realized that Cameron doesn’t have these terrors just at night.
A few weeks ago, maybe closer to a month, Cameron would wake from her naps screaming. And I’m not talking about a typical, woke up on the wrong side of the crib cry/scream, but a ear screeching, oh my god what is happening screaming. When we would go in to check on her she would be inconsolable. Didn’t want to be touched or held, didn’t want her blanket or pacifier, and if we tried to talk to her she just freaked out more. Now the entire time her eyes were open like she was awake, but upon further inspection it was like they were glazed over and she had this glass eyed, empty expression look to her. And after about 10 or so minutes (although it always felt longer) she would stop and go about like nothing had happened.
A few days after these afternoon terrors happened, they began happening at night as well. Same sort of actions, she would be flailing about, kicking, screaming, not wanting anyone or anything, and after a little bit she would stop, roll over, and go back to sleep.
So of course, being a first time mom, I’m freaked. I want to know what’s happening and why. So of course I turn to google, and mom friends, explaining her symptoms and trying to get to the bottom of it. I was trying to figure out if she was overtired, if we were letting her watch to much TV, or if something on the TV was causing her nightmares, if she was using her iPad a bit too much and once again was a show or movie giving her bad dreams. Was all the moving, and weekend trips, and amount of activities we were doing causing her to just not feel comfortable and get upset? I just had so many questions and so I needed answers.
First we started cutting shows and TV time to a bare minimum to see if something had been triggering her and we weren’t finding any results there. So I kept looking for answers.
Basically what I’ve been told is you just sort of need to let them play out. You can go one of two routes, and there may be more routes but these were the ones suggested to me.
The first route is to turn on lights, to talk to the child, maybe ask them questions or “bribe” them if you will. So we tried this one of the first terrors after I got the suggestion. I turned on the lights, started asking her if she wanted to watch “Mickey Mouse, or Boss baby, or Tinkerbell.” I tried to stay clear of her kicking because she has some legs on her. I tried to do anything and everything in my power to “wake her up.” And for us this route didn’t seem to work all that well. I felt it took longer and I just made her more upset.
The second route is more of, just letting them cry it out mostly on their own. No lights, no talking, just sort of letting them be and letting them calm themselves down. Now I made sure she was safe and that I was right there if need be, but when we first started this technique I felt the terrors lasted a lot shorter and she didn’t seem to get as mad.
After about a week and a half, maybe two weeks, they stopped. We also took some time to just be, no traveling, no big weekend plans, just some lazy days where we kept to the same schedule so that she got used to a routine.
We did recently have one episode, but I believe it’s because she had a long day filled with car rides, strange places, she hadn’t been feeling good, went to sleep in one place and woke up someplace different. But I just sat with her while she cried and she seemed to only be upset for a little and went back to sleep.
Now I know these ways aren’t the only way to deal with sleep terrors, every child is different, and things may not work for everyone. But this is what we did and so far it has worked and luckily we haven’t been seeing the terrors nearly as much if at all.
Did you child have sleep terrors? Did you do anything different?