Babies start dreaming really early in their lives, and nightmares appear between 1 year old to 18 months old. You have to be able to tell the difference between night terror, more present during REM sleep, and nightmares that start appearing during the second part of the night.
What are night terrors?
At the beginning of the night, baby is dealing with all the worries he went through during the day. It can create night terrors. He is agitated but still asleep. It can seem impressive but you don’t have to stay close to the bed. What’s more, baby won’t have any memories if these terrors. We can categorise this as somnambulism. No need to rush to take him in your arms. You need to tell the difference between night terrors and nightmares, although you should be reassuring and appeasing.
What are nightmares?
Contrary to night terrors, nightmares are more violent. Your baby wakes up, remembering everything he saw. You have to be here to calm him down. Some nightmares can be really traumatising and your baby needs you and your arms to feel better.
Why do kids have nightmares and night terrors?
Those two phenomena are necessary in the process of development. There is a scale of fear. At first baby is afraid of some noises inside the house (a door banging for example). Then he will be afraid of noises outside. And lastly, imaginary fears will appear (witches, monsters, etc). These fears evolve with the age of the kid and they are normal.
When do we have to worry?
If these sleep disorders are recurrent, don’t hesitate to talk to a specialist. There might be a more serious cause behind it. Nightmares or terrors are sometimes the sign of a hidden emotion expressing itself.
How to reassure your child?
For a child, overcoming his fears helps him in growing up. Talk to him about them and tell him that you used to have your own fears when you were a child. Try to find solutions together. Ask him what he wants you to do so that he is less afraid. You can propose to let the light on during the night or to keep his door open. If he needs you to check under the bed or in the wardrobe, do it and show him that nothing can harm him.
It is natural to have fears. All there is to do is to reassure your child and they should disappear after a while. Did you find the perfect recipe to help your child in going back to sleep? Share it with us.