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Night terrors: Because sleep isn’t already impossible to get

If you’ve always wanted to experience what it might like to be in a Stephen King novel, I highly recommend that you find a toddler with night terrors. There’s no experience quite like a terrified toddler in the middle of the night when you’re half-awake and disoriented. One minute you’re asleep, the next you’ve got a baby in your arms screaming like you’re a 40-foot spider.

If you’re like me and afraid of everything in your own home after midnight then night terrors can be unsettling. For this reason I did some research and put together a mostly factual guide about night terrors to highlight some understanding of the issue.

Night terrors versus nightmares

How can I get my kids to bed (and stay there?)

Dear Mama Drama:

I can’t get my kids to bed at night. They don’t listen when I tell them to stop watching TV or playing and get ready for bed, they fuss about washing their faces and brushing their teeth, and they always have a million reasons why they need to get out of bed. Every night seems to end in yelling and tears. My husband and I are exhausted and the kids are cranky because they don’t get enough sleep.

~ Tired and Cranky Mama

(photo credit)

Dear Tired and Cranky:

American Academy of Pediatrics’ New Rules for Safe Sleep

Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued the first update of safe sleep practices in seven years to re-educate pediatricians and parents on how to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sudden unexpected infant death (SUID). SUID is on the rise due to a lack of understand of safe sleep guidelines.

“We are concerned about the rise of SUID, which includes deaths due to asphyxiation, entrapment and suffocation,” said Ann C. Halbower, MD, Pediatric Pulmonologist at the Breathing Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “The same safe sleep practices protect infants from both SIDS and SUID.”

How can I protect my baby?

Mama Drama: Toddler Naptime Dilemma – To Nap or Not to Nap?

Dear Mama Drama:

When do kids stop napping? My two and a half year old son has been resisting falling asleep for about a week now but if he does fall asleep, he’s out for 1-2 hours. How do I know if he needs it still? He’s a nightmare around 5 if he doesn’t nap. Suggestions??

~Stumped Mama

(photo credit)

Dear Stumped:

Napping is a

Mama Drama: Anniversary Advice Round Up

Mama Drama is celebrating two years with Mile High Mamas!!

We’ve rounded up all of the drama Lisa has covered during that time into a variety of categories to make it easier for you to find that special nugget of information or advice you need.

Keep the questions coming ([email protected]) and remember that we all have our share of Mama Drama, so contribute your advice, ideas, and tried and true strategies as we support each other through the journey of motherhood in this fabulous community of moms.

Be sure to bookmark this page for easy access and share it with all your mommy friends!

Developmental issues:

Articulation Angst – When to worry about speech concerns.

10 Tips for Safe Sleep

The thought of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – or SIDS – is enough to make any parent panic. Put your mind at ease by reading 10 tips for keeping your little one safe during sleep.*

1.) Always place your baby on his or her back (not stomach or side) for naps and to sleep at night.

2.) Place your baby on a firm sleep surface, such as on a safety-approved crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet.

3.) Keep pillows, blankets, toys and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area.

4.) Keep your baby’s sleep area

How to ease your children into the time change and how much sleep they really need

Winter is coming! If you’re anything like me you may not be thrilled about the chilly months that lie ahead, but those cold short days do have a few
advantages – especially longer nights!

We are about to change the clock back an hour and while some of us are a little saddened by the thought of eating dinner at 5:30 in the dark, this can be a great opportunity to help our kids start getting the kind of sleep they really need!

Studies show that the amount of sleep children get has a profound affect on their learning, attention, risk of obesity, and risk of depression. Most children in our country do not come close to getting the amount of sleep they need to process all of the information they are learning everyday.

When the clocks fall back we have an opportunity to bump their bedtimes up a little bit. Start on Sunday night by having them go to bed with respect to the time change. That is, if they usually go to bed at 9:00, have them go to bed at 8:00 (on the newly changed clock). Their body will feel like they are going to bed at the same time and they can potentially get an hour more sleep. From then on out, try to stick to that new, earlier bed time.

Of course this will take a little preparation on your part. It is going to

Mama Drama: Night Terrors

Dear Mama Drama:

My 3 1/2-year-old son recently had an episode of night terrors. His older sister went through her share of them but nothing of this magnitude. About 90 minutes after he went to bed, we awoke to his screaming. He was absolutely hysterical: crying, flailing and still asleep. We tried to calm him down but it took 30 very scary minutes before he snapped out of it.

I have heard different advice. Some recommend waking the child up, others say to just watch him closely and talk in reassuring tones until he goes back to sleep. What do you recommend?

~Terror-fied Mama

(Photo Credit)

Dear Terror-fied:

Night terrors can be very scary experiences for parents. Watching your child in terror can leave you feeling helpless and unnerved. Most of us have experienced nightmares and have comforted our children with them. Night terrors, however, are a whole other ballgame!

Your description of the screaming, flailing, and crying as well as the episode occurring within the first couple of hours after falling asleep are common for children with night terrors. The good news is that while terrified during the experience, children do not generally remember it when they awaken. They are often confused upon waking and do not understand what is going on. They can also be quite shaken, especially if woken up by a distraught parent. Some children may take a long time to calm down after a night terror episode, while others may go back to sleep quickly.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that parents:

  • “Remain calm so that you do not frighten your child with a panic-stricken response.
  • Do not try to wake your child
  • Watch your child to make sure that he or she remains safe.
  • Wait near your child until he or she returns to normal sleep.”

A risk associated with night terrors is sleep walking, as children can injure themselves inadvertently. This is another reason to remain close to your child during a night terror episode.

Children often have night terrors when they are over-tired or out of their regular sleep routine. Sticking to a regular routine and making sure your child gets enough sleep can help. Additionally, if your son is having more frequent night terrors, you can interrupt the sleep cycle by awakening him prior to the time he typically has a night terror.

If you continue to have concerns or the night terror episodes increase, please contact your pediatrician. Keeping a sleep diary can give the doctor more information about the patterns of sleep and what may be impacting your son. Typically, there are not medical interventions for night terrors, but possible underlying causes may be addressed. You may also consider some alternative or complimentary medicine treatments such as homeopathy, flower essences, or energy work.

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column runs on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions and challenges to [email protected], and your Mama Drama could be in next week’s column! All emails and identifying information will remain confidential.

Mama Drama: Bedtime Woes & Sibling Fights

Dear Mama Drama: My 13-month-old daughter used to go to bed easily. Now she stands in her crib and screams. We have a consistent, calming bedtime routine, but it doesn’t seem to be working right now.
~Exasperated

Dear Exasperated:
Your daughter may be telling you it’s to change her sleep schedule. She may not be as tired at her current bedtime as she used to be. Toddlers often shift their sleeping patterns as their activity and developmental needs change. They still need 10-13 hours of sleep on average, but may take fewer naps, need a different bed time, or need to be awakened earlier.

It may also be helpful to take a look at her schedule throughout the day. Make sure she is getting enough physical activity and that she is not over-stimulated in the hours just before bed. Warm baths, massages, wrapping up in a blanket to provide deep pressure, and quiet stories are all great additions to your nightly routine that will help her relax and be ready for sleep.

Dear Mama Drama: My seven year old twin boys were teasing each other last night when it escalated to one hitting the other multiple times in the back and the other one stabbing his brother in the head with the point of a pencil several times before I could intervene. I got them calmed down and put to bed, trying to stay calm myself. This is the first time this has happened and I am trying to figure out if this is normal or if I should be worried?
~Reeling

Dear Reeling:
Sounds like you did well to stay calm and get them calm. I suggest spending some time talking with them separately about what happened, focusing on how they were feeling at the time and helping them take responsibility for their part in the problem. Then have a conversation together where you problem solve and make a plan for future situations when they feel so upset.

While seven year olds generally have adequate vocabulary, they often don’t know how to express themselves effectively. Teaching and practicing problem solving language gives them the tools they need to successfully navigate social situations. With siblings, and particularly twins, emotions can be especially intense. Creating a peaceful problem solving structure provides a great framework for the family and is a skill they will use throughout their lives.

As a one-time incident I wouldn’t be over-the-top worried. Definitely let them know this behavior is not acceptable in any way and keep your radar up for escalating situations. Sometimes things happen too quickly to stop them, but other times we can step in to support them when the tension begins to rise and help them start communicating before the problems get bigger.

Motherhood is an amazing journey that can have its share of Mama Drama. The Mama Drama column will be running on Fridays with everyday mothering questions from readers and answers providing strategies to tackle these daily challenges. Send your questions to [email protected], and your Mama Drama might be in next week’s column.