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How to stop night terrors in toddlers

If your little one suffers with night terrors, you’ll know just how helpless you feel watching them. It’s not really known why night terrors happen, but there is some good advice below on how to prevent them.

Night terrors are different from nightmares in that:

  • Night terrors tend to happen in the first third of the night
  • Your toddler might scream, sit bolt upright, thrash around or jump out of bed
  • They will have their eyes wide open but aren’t fully awake
  • They won’t remember anything about it in the morning

What should you do when they’re having a night terror?

You’ll find that you can’t wake or comfort your toddler when they’re having a night terror because they don’t realise you’re there. And the NHS advises not to try and comfort them because you might make them more agitated. The best thing you can do is stay calm and keep them safe by moving anything a thrashing toddler could hurt themselves on and cushioning the headboard and floor in case they fall out of bed.

Once the terror is over, it’s a good idea to wake your child fully before going back to sleep, so that you stop the cycle and prevent another terror.

Can you stop terrors before they start?

If the night terrors are happening often and around the same time each night, the NHS recommends waking your child 15 minutes before this time every night for seven nights. You don’t have to wake them fully, just so their eyes are open and this should disrupt their sleep pattern enough to stop the terrors.

You can also help promote more relaxing sleep and less risk of terrors, by setting a soothing bedtime routine. Find out what things relax your toddler like a warm bath, reading a simple story in a soft voice, having a cuddle, the sound of radio static.

If your toddler is going through an episode of night terrors it might also help to get them off to a good sleep by using a bedside crib like the 4-in-1 Knuma Huddle. Not only could it help settle them better, they’ll be well protected in the bedside crib if they do have a terror and thrash around.

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