Nightmares/Night Terrors And How to Manage Them

Is your toddler or child waking up screaming soon after they go down to sleep, or are they waking up scared in the middle of the night? 

It can be very scary to see our precious little ones having nightmares or a night terror, especially in the depths of the night. Both usually start occurring more when our babas are approximately two years old (but can also happen a little younger too).

Hopefully, your toddler or child will not have many occurrences, but how do we know if our child is having a nightmare or night terror, and what can we do to help!?

The good news is that as your babas are more than likely that bit older when these occur, they can hopefully communicate any fears that they are having.

Here are some facts about nightmares and night terrors:


  • Typically occur in the middle of the night or nearer the morning
  • Usually happens during their “REM” stage of sleep (active stage of sleeping)
  • Can sometimes happen after a change of routine or schedule
  • Can sometimes occur after your little one has seen or heard something that may upset them; i.e. a scary book or tv show

Night Terrors

  • Usually occur in the first 1/3 of the night after our babas have gone down
  • Usually happens during the deeper stages of “Non REM” sleep
  • Your little one may be crying and/or screaming and may seem very distressed
  • Your kiddie is usually not fully awake when they are having a night terror. Because of this, it may be difficult to calm or console them
  • Our kiddies will usually not remember anything about it the following morning (thankfully!)

So what should you do if your little one experiences a nightmare or night terror? It’s important to find the source of them. Here are some tips to help you: 

  1. Ensure your baba is getting enough sleep. Be sure your little one isn’t over-tired. Being exhausted can have a huge impact on how restful your baba’s sleep is
  2. Consider recent changes like moving house or going back to school. This can cause disruptions in your baba’s sleep
  3. Review your child’s sleep environment – make sure there is nothing in their room that can cast a scary shadow in the middle of the night
  4. To help your little one love their sleep space, spend a little bit of time everyday having some fun and laughing in their bedroom - in the daytime and away from sleep
  5. You can also play really fun “shadow games” when it is dark. Build a fort, get a torch and do loads of lovely and funny shadows.  This is fab for teaching your child about how shadows work and will help minimise any potential fear
  6. Have lots of lovely “Special Time” with your toddler during the day.  This time can be anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes, but this time is focused completely on activities your child wants to do.  My daughter (4) still says to me now when we are doing something 1:1 – “Mammy, are we having some Cara and Mammy special time right now?” It is very cute and helps massively with any bedtime anxiety

For more info and to receive my free EBook on first steps to better sleep, you can sign up on my website.

My name is Fiona and I am a Mama of two kiddies. I am obsessed with sleep and helping families get more sleep too xx.

Fiona Carroll

Fiona Carroll is a Mama of 2 kiddies. She is obsessed with sleep and helping families get more sleep too. Check our her website

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