View Full Version : Have any Intercot parents had this problem? Help!

02-14-2008, 05:43 PM
Over the past two weeks my daughter has been waking up from naps crying hysterically. She's nearly inconsolable. When she does finally calm down she is clingy to either DH or I to the point where we can't even put her down to use the restroom. I'm SO worried that there is something wrong with her - I'm thinking about taking her to the doctor. The strange thing is, it only really happens when she wakes up from a nap. Could it be a nightmare? She's only 15 months so she can't tell me what's wrong and that makes her even more frustrated. She'll hit, bite, kick or even hurt herself by pulling her hair, scratching her face or pulling her eyelids!! What is going on?? I'm really scared. Any advice?

02-14-2008, 05:47 PM
Hmmm ... that sounds a little bit like what our DS used to do when he was a bit younger. Minus the physical aspect, though.

He would awake at least once a night (and sometimes more) completely hysterical. He would only calm down once we took him out of his crib and out of his room into our room.

Needless to say, this was pretty wearing on us. We finally decided to stop taking him out of his crib and just stay with him in his room until he calmed down. That seemed to work and now, for the most part, he sleeps through the night.

Oddly enough, though, just last night he had one of these episodes again. It lasted for close to an hour.

I've assumed it was like night terrors ... that's how he acts. Like he's scared out of his wits.

02-14-2008, 06:22 PM
My friends little girl had this problem with her almost 2 year old. She brought Jamie to the Dr. and they told her it was "night Terrors". You can research it on he internet, maybe Webmd.com. Good luck!

02-14-2008, 06:54 PM
I agree... they sound a lot like night terrors. My DD used to get them, though not as bad as you are describe them. If it would console you to have your child checked out, do so. Our pediatrician always appreciates us asking about something if we aren't sure. She would rather have cautious parents than one's that let something go... Either way, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Nightmares can be especially scary when little one's wake up and don't realize that it was just a bad dream and not reality.

02-14-2008, 07:50 PM
My youngest son used to have night terrors and you really couldn't calm him down, there were times when he didn't seem to realize we were holding him. One thing that worked for us was DH would say his name sternly(not yelling but the way you would when you want their attention) and that would slowly bring him out of it. He would cling to one of us for awhile afterwards but I think he was just scared.

02-14-2008, 09:13 PM
This sounds terrible. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Hopefully it will be something your child will grow out of.


02-14-2008, 09:49 PM
Sounds like night terrors. My daughter had them really bad for several years. At first, we were terrified every time we tried to comfort her while she was freaking out. Then I talked to her doctor and he gave me some info, and after that I just made sure she couldn't fall out of bed or hurt herself. She never remembered anything she said or did the next day. She grew out of them, but even now she'll holler out almost every night at some imaginary person or monster....thankfully minus the extreme agitation she used to go through.

I know it's hard to watch your child go through it. You may want to talk with her doctor just to be sure.

02-14-2008, 09:49 PM
Hi! I'm completing an internship at a hospital and specialize in children's mental health. I do a LOT of familyl therapy and parent support.

a) Talk to your family dr. asap. What you're describing is not typical. Now, that doesn't mean that something is WRONG, there are many different, innocent explainations for the symptoms you describe. But a family dr. who knows you well is best suited to diagnose!

b) If your still worried (as I anticipate) go see a CHILD psychiatrist. Night terrors are very rare in children under age three.

c) Many things can cause stress in a child, particualy one who is sensitive or anxious. The best thing you can do is have this looked at. The symptoms you described are not the norm. That doesn't mean something awful is going on, it just means a profesional's opinion is needed.

Best of luck and PM me is you'd like to talk.

02-14-2008, 10:18 PM
Sounds like "night terrors" to me also. We experienced the same thing as everyone else has said with my daughter when she was younger(she's 9 now). When they first happened it really freaked us out but our doctors told us about night terrors and there really wasn't anything we could do about them. We would just hold her as much as she would possibly allow(she would fight us too) and talk to her in calm quiet voice.

Dakota Rose
02-14-2008, 10:35 PM
Yep, sounds like night terrors to me as well. DS has had similar instances a couple times. Our pediatrician said that b/c DS is advanced, he also has a lot of anxiety, and that could exascerbate things like night terrors, etc. Could that be true for your DD?

I've done some reading on the subject and it seems as though when DS appears to be awake and hysterical, he is actually still sleeping. Sometimes, the more I console him the worse it gets (b/c he's asleep and essentially what he's experiencing is now coming true I guess) and when he "wakes up" he'll be clingy.

Check out DrGreene.com and search on night terrors. And call your doc too to see what he has to say.

DS's terrors are happening less often now (he's almost 4) but they never occurred with any regularity or during any specific sleeping time. So, I'm wondering if you can't help the situation by changing her napping environment and/or routine. Start with one or the other so you know what "fixes" it. Maybe put her down in another room, or use different music. Change the lighting. I don't know if this idea would make it better or worse, but what if you try gently waking her up a few minutes before she normally wakes in tears? Maybe you could bypass the whole thing?

Good luck! It's scary! Let us know what happens.

02-14-2008, 11:43 PM
It's not a night terror if it happens at naptime. Night terrors are so called because they happen during the transition to deep sleep that occurs after about 90 minutes after falling asleep for the night. Naps don't follow the same sleep cycle as nighttime restorative rest.

Night terrors do not usually occur in a child 15 months old. In addition, babies that young are not said to experience "nightmares".

what you are going through is a very typical thing at that age. My oldest son (now 3.5) did it and my youngest has been doing it for a few months now (he's 23 months).

First of all, try not to worry TOO much. If your daughter is happy/acting normal most of the day, and this is isolated to ONLY upon waking at naptime or in the middle of the night, be assured that nothing is seriously wrong with her.

Most likely, this is happening for two reasons:

1) Developmental phase-your daughter is becoming a toddler. Toddlers at that age begin to push limits, fight sleep in order to stay up and play more, etc. Many, many toddlers become overstimulated and it becomes harder for them to settle down to nap. Once they do fall asleep, it's not a restful sleep.

2) Overtiredness-this is probably the main cause. Have you noticed that she wakes up crying hysterically after a shorter time than her "typical" nap? What is happening is that she is being awoken by something, and is not "ready" to wake up, and so is just still tired, but past the point of going back to sleep. Have you ever taken a nap, and then woken up completely disoriented, like you don't remember what day/time it is? This happens to babies too, and you can imagine how frightened they become when they are overcome by this type of disorientation.

Unfortunately, this is a phase. But, fortunately, it will pass. My younger son does this about once a week now. It ALWAYS happens when he doesn't nap long enough. His typical nap (he just has one) is approx 2.5-3 hours. When he wakes up after LESS than 2 hours, he has one of these meltdowns.

They are not fun, for anyone, but the best thing you can do is try not to panic, and find something that is calming to your daughter. For my son, it's his blankie and a Baby Einstein video. I will just turn it on, pick him up, and sit down on the couch with him, rubbing his stomach and head until he calms down. Sometimes, it takes 30-45 min.

When it happens at night, the best way to deal with it is to, again, not panic unless you think your baby is sick. If all seems well (your baby is not screaming due to fever, or a dirty diaper, or vomiting), just gently console her, in a rocker or whatever until she is calm. Put her back down and she may cry again, but if you leave her alone, she will put herself back to sleep. The best thing you can do for your baby is be a source of comfort, but don't "give in" to a meltdown. It's sometimes a power trip, so you have to be careful how you handle it, lest you create a monster!

Good luck and feel free to PM me if you want any more help. I have had my fair share of sleep problems with two kids. I've done a LOT of research and had my kids seen by neurologists (because the way my son was behaving was terrifying to me--he acted possessed), and got the same spiel from them all.

02-15-2008, 09:17 AM
As others are saying, night terrors are perfectly common. They're more upsetting than anything but they are usually just a phase. It is also common for them to happen every night. They may last for weeks, go away, and come back.

What concerns me is that the child is only 15 months. That is very young for night terrors, if that's whats going on. Also, she's upset to the point of hurting herself. That's not uncommon in toddlers who can't express themselves, but its still upsetting.

Can you say how frequently these episodes happen? How long does an episode last? Do they only happen at nap-time, or at night time as well?

02-15-2008, 11:40 AM
I have to agree with BrerGnat. Night terrors are just that a night terror and the child wakes up in the first cycle. These are when the child is still (as some theorize) asleep.
There could be other things going on. It doesn't even have to be neuro or in the MH arena-- # 1 rule is to Rule out other causes.
Your child could be waking w/ a bad headache or ear ache. Do talk to her pediatrician first.
I've also seen children out grow night terrors with no problems. Try to note any differences btwn how she wakes up in the a.m. any sleep disturbances and if any conditions are different btwn nap time and morning waking.
What is going on at lunch? Could something be upsetting her tummy like milk or too much sugar?

02-15-2008, 03:14 PM
I really appreciate all of the responses. Let me explain exactly what's going on in a little more detail and maybe it will help to clarify things. I was thinking that perhaps one or all of these things could have contributed to it.

1. This has only happened twice. Both times it's happened, she's skipped her morning nap for one reason or another and her afternoon nap was shorter than normal. She wakes up crying hysterically and will not calm down for a long time. She's also very clingy to either DH or I during this time. We can't put her down even for a second.

2. The first time it happened, I thought she may have a tummy ache because I tried giving her hummus and pita for lunch which she'd never had before. The second time, she had a pb&j for lunch but hadn't had any problems with peanut butter before, so I don't think that had anything to do with it.

3. She just got over an ear infection and was on antibiotics for 10 days. She's still pulling on her ears but doesn't have a fever. I'm taking her back to the doctor this afternoon just to double check her ears.

4. We instituted two new things in her schedule last week. We started getting together with other moms & kids for a weekly playgroup. We also started a mommy & me class. The first playgroup went alright - it was at our house but DD stayed back a little bit from the group and eventually joined in. The second time we were at a different home and she clung to me for the first half hour. She acted the same way at the mommy & me class. She was extremely clingy and very timid. She usually loves to dance and play at home but wouldn't join in at all at the class.

Do you think all the socialization in a short period of time is making her nervous? Up until now she's been extremely friendly with other people so I'm surprised at how clingy she's become over the past two weeks. Is this a normal phase?

02-15-2008, 06:36 PM
1. This has only happened twice. Both times it's happened, she's skipped her morning nap for one reason or another and her afternoon nap was shorter than normal. She wakes up crying hysterically and will not calm down for a long time. She's also very clingy to either DH or I during this time. We can't put her down even for a second.
Do you think all the socialization in a short period of time is making her nervous? Up until now she's been extremely friendly with other people so I'm surprised at how clingy she's become over the past two weeks. Is this a normal phase?

I think you have hit upon the causes perfectly.

Skipping naps, and having a "shorter than normal" nap will result in this sort of meltdown 99.9% of the time. I have experienced it so many times, that I am almost positive, in your case, it's a simple matter of being overtired.

The ear infection probably has nothing to do with it, although if she is still acting like she is in pain during the day, I'd agree a visit to the doctor is in order to make sure she's all clear.

In addition, ANY changes to a routine, as exciting and fun as they may be, can create anxiety in a toddler. It's very possible that all this new socialization is a bit too much for her. I wouldn't necessarily halt it or anything, but maybe take it down to just 1 day/week when you do something like an organized playgroup. As she adjusts to the routine, she'll be fine.

You can expect this sort of thing to continue for some time, so just be prepared. There is a LOT of development that happens in the next 18 months, and you need to be ready for frequent tantrums/meltdowns as your daughter adjusts to the world around her. It's actually a good sign...it shows that she is becoming more self aware.

Dakota Rose
02-15-2008, 09:11 PM
I agree with the last post 100%. A lot has changed in her little world and she's probably trying to adjust. :) It's still scary and unnerving.