Can Babies Have Nightmares?

Does your baby suddenly wake up crying at night and cannot be put back to sleep? If you are getting worried, it is time to learn that this happens to so many children; so no need to panic. There could be many reasons for such behavior in children; one of which is nightmares. I know a lot of new parents would get surprised and ask "can babies have nightmares?" Every child sleeps in a different position, so it is very difficult to say whether they have nightmares or not. In order to take better care of your baby and let them have better sleep, you need to find out if they are having nightmares, how to comfort them and how to ward nightmares off them.

Can Babies Have Nightmares?

Yes, they can. It is normal for babies to have nightmares, but the trick is to know when they are having it. As babies can't speak, they can't tell you when they have nightmares and what causes the sleep distress.

Your baby may wake up in the middle of night because of wet nappy, hunger, discomfort or nightmare. So how to know if it is nightmares? One simple sign is if your child wakes up suddenly crying, looks scared and doesn't want to go back to sleep, then he may had a nightmare. Nightmares usually happen in the second-half of night when dreams most likely occur.

Note: Nightmares are different from night terrors. Night terrors occur in initial one-third of night, commonly in children between age 4 and 5. Children having night terror are still in deep sleep, but are very irritated and hard to comfort them. But after that they will go back to their sweet sleep and remember nothing about it.

Why Do Babies Have Nightmares?  

Besides exploring the question, "Can babies have nightmares?" The next question is, "What causes these episodes?" Here is the answer.

  • Nightmares could be caused by an event or incident that occurred just before sleeping. It includes getting scared after watching a horror movie or listening to a scary bedtime story.
  • Stress can be the culprit. For babies who have separation anxiety, going to bed is a reason to aggravate the stress. For some, stress can be due to sickness or the thought of being away from parents at night.
  • If you baby has nightmare, don't start panicking and blaming yourself because nightmares are not due to emotional problems and are very common especially at this age. Most of the time, the cause of nightmare isn't something a parent did or said.

Although every child has nightmares every now and then but children in between 4 to 5 years are more prone to nightmares than others. This is the period of fear development in children; they start imagining things and start describing things they see as nightmares.

How to Take Care of Your Baby After Nightmares

Go to your baby when you hear him crying for physical reassurance.When he wakes up at night, make him believe that you care by hugging or rubbing the back to calm him down. If you are thinking to let him sleep with you on your bed, then keep in mind that he can make it his habit which by the way will be hard to break.

If he tells you about his nightmare, listen carefully; but if he doesn't want to express, don't force him. He would feel better if you verbally console him and tell him that it was just a dream. In some cases, it doesn't help because children don't understand the difference between fantasy and reality. But in most cases, children tend to understand that nightmares are far from the reality.

So for those who ask, can babies have nightmares? We hope it is now clear. Some tips to keep your child calm and terror free at night are here:

  • Make your child sure that there are no monsters hiding inside the closet or under the bed by showing them.
  • Place your child's favorite stuff like a toy with him at bed time.
  • Keep the night bulb on at night.
  • Tell him that you're just in the room beside to make sure that he will be safe.

If there are still nightmares and he talk to you about it, give him a drawing paper and ask him to draw what he saw in the nightmare and ask him to throw it away.

How to Prevent Nightmare in Babies

No technique can assure the prevention of nightmares; but a warm bath, a light song or calm story before going to bed can help. Reading books having stories related to sleep with pleasure like "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown can help too. Make sure that the story book you read doesn't have scary images to make your kid frightened instead of making him comfortable to sleep.

Other tips include keeping the room temperature comfortable, neither too warm nor too cool. It will provide your child the night's rest at its best. A little cool temperature of about 70 degrees is considered most comfortable for healthy and restful sleep. Keep the lights off at night, if your child feels fearful; consider a night bulb of very light intensity. Some more tips to tackle nightmare in children are:

  • Rub a skin cream or lotion on the body of your baby before he sleeps.
  • Prepare him a monster spray (water and some vanilla drops) and let him spray around his room before sleeping.
  • Help him make a dreamcatcher with the help of paper or pipe and hang by the bedside to catch nightmares.

If your child still has nightmares and is afraid of sleeping alone, you need to be alarmed. These nightmares also signal that there are some other problems in his life that need to be settled. In addition, consult a doctor or therapist to better address the core issues.

 
 
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