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Nightmares and Nightmares:
How can I help baby?

As parents, you have surely experienced restless nights. Everyone is sleeping peacefully when suddenly your baby starts crying. You rush to his bedside and realize that he is still sleeping. You then realize that your child had a nightmare.

Reassure yourself: it is quite normal for children to have nightmares (just like adults). Sometimes it can turn into a night terror.

Is it serious? And how to react? We tell you everything.

What is a baby nightmare ?

Early childhood specialists estimate that nightmares begin to occur around 18 months. Although sometimes impressive, these dreams are completely normal for children and adults alike. They are a means for our brain to sort information and interpret different times of the day to help better understand and face them. An integral part of the psychoaffective development of our toddlers, dreaming of a monster allows to symbolize their fears in order to learn how to face them. In this case, you understand that having nightmares at night is rather healthy. Moreover, children tend to have more nightmares than adults.

The reason is simple: they discover the world around them over time and this requires recording a lot of information. The dream during sleep is then a learning tool.

What is the difference between a nightmare and a night terror?

While the nightmare is the most effective way found by the brain to fight against the stress caused by the many new situations experienced by the little ones, the night terror is rather linked to real anxieties. "abnormal" underlying causes.

Note: night terrors tend to occur during the first part of the night. If your child is prone to it, he may start screaming or even scream. He may also be disoriented, sitting in bed and have open eyes, but staring into space. Sometimes, we even notice that some children develop aggression.

As a general rule, we observe that night terrors are linked to a change in habit that generates stress (a move, for example, starting school, or a separation from parents). This can also occur in case of high fever.

Note: it appears that night terrors are hereditary. Thus, if someone in the family was subject to this type of phenomenon during childhood, your toddler may have predispositions to also experience this type of situation.

How to act in case of nightmares or night terrors?

First of all, it is necessary to set up bedtime rituals that allow your toddler to fall asleep peacefully.
This is the role of the famous story before bed.

After the story, we have a hug and kiss, turn on the night light and turn off the light. Whatever order you choose, stick to it as often as possible. This type of ritual reassures your child and has a huge impact on the quality of his sleep. If the child wakes up in the middle of the night, you must first identify whether you are dealing with a simple nightmare or a night terror. If it's a nightmare and if the child is old enough to tell it to you, ask him to do it. Give him a hug and tell him it's okay and he can go back to sleep peacefully. If necessary, you can install an object such as a dream catcher to help him fight his fear.

In the case of a night terror, you must avoid waking him at all costs. Experts say this type of behavior is similar to sleepwalking. And it is well known that sleepwalkers should not be awakened. In this case, to calm your cherub, start by caressing his head and talking to him in a low voice in order to appease him. This phase can last between 5 min and 30 min. Normally, the toddler goes back to sleep and ends his night.

Nightmares and night terrors: when to worry?

As mentioned, nightmares are completely normal manifestations of a child’s subconscious. Thus, there is no need to worry if your toddler has nightmares from time to time. Especially if it doesn't impact his sleep and his ability to stay awake during the day.

This goes also for night terrors. If this is punctual, they will decrease or even disappear over time. Obviously, nothing prevents you from talking about it with your doctor if you have any questions or doubts. That being said, if nightmares and night terrors are recurrent and it turns into a real sleep disorder, we must react.

To start, talk to the person looking after him (if it's not you of course) and try to see if everything is going well at the crèche, at school, with the nanny or the family.

If your child can talk, ask him to explain what is wrong. If nothing is to be reported on this side, you will have to question your own habits and the changes that have occurred s within the home. You should know, in fact, that toddlers are real sponges and that they feel the stress of parents. Maybe you have less time to devote to it? Or is something bothering you? If so, your child may not understand your behavior and start having nightmares.

It may also be that his room does not suit him.

In this case, do not hesitate to test new furniture. We also offer an evolving baby room of modular, ecological and 100% French quality if necessary.

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