It is very difficult to know what causes the distress your child experiences at night unless he/she says that he/she has a nightmare.

Toddlers have many possible reasons for waking up and crying at night. Some may need to be comforted because they haven’t learned to soothe themselves. Some children also wake up because they are sick or uncomfortable.

However, if your baby, who always sleeps well, suddenly cries and wakes up, is uneasy and does not want to go back to sleep, it is most likely a nightmare. It is usually the second half of his/her sleep when he/she is most likely to dream.

Nightmares should not be confused with night sweats. Children with night sweats continue to sleep after waking up anxiously in a deep, dreamless sleep, and when they wake up they do not remember it.

What causes nightmares?

Your child’s nightmare is probably linked to something that happened before bedtime. Watching something that scares or bothers him/her or listening to a horror story can cause him to have nightmares.

Stress can also cause nightmares. Sleep time can be stressful, especially for a child with separation anxiety. Being sick or being away from a parent for too long can also be stressful for children.

But don’t worry or blame yourself. Emotional problems are not linked to nightmares, and it’s perfectly normal for her/him to have an occasional bad dream at this age. It probably has nothing to do with anything you say or do.

How can I help my child after a nightmare?

When she/he screams, go to your child. Physical reassurance is important, so hold her/him and hug her/him until she/he calms down. Make sure her favorite stuffed animal or toy is with her/him, this can help. Double-check the night light and keep the bedroom door open so they know you’re there. Be aware that if you bring your child to your bed to comfort her/him, it will be difficult to reverse.

If she’s/he’s old enough to understand what you’re saying, talk to her/him about the nightmare. But keep in mind that telling him/her that it was just a dream will not be much consolation, because children at this age do not understand the difference between reality and dreams.

How do I prevent him/her from having a nightmare?

Although there is no sure way to prevent nightmares, a peaceful sleep routine, a peaceful hot shower, a good sleep story or a peaceful song may help.

Make your child feel comfortable so that your child has a good night’s sleep. The best temperature for restful sleep is a little cool air.

Too much light disrupts sleep. If your child is afraid of the dark, a night light that illuminates enough to keep the monsters away is sufficient.

If the nightmares persist and your child is afraid to go to bed, you can discuss the matter with his/her doctor.

If you found this article useful, you can share it!