Thursday, 1 March 2012

Baby Crying In Sleep: Nightmares, Night Terrors, Parasomnia

My baby has started crying, laughing, babbling and screaming in his sleep- like he is having a vivid dream, nightmare or is in pain. The first time it happened I had never heard him yell so much- not even after his first ever vaccination shots. I bolted, in my pyjamas, through the dark house (tripping over the days debris) to his cot where I expected to find him awake and screaming. Instead I found him lying on his back, arms above his head in his standard sleep pose (also affectionately referred to as the ‘hey, ho- a party over here, a party over there, throw your hands in the air, wave them everywhere’ pose). I picked him up to give him soothing cuddles and immediately had the strangest sensation that he was (or rather, had been) asleep. I could have sworn my picking him up is what woke him- but surely that couldn’t be right… Once in my arms he cried a little in alarm but was easily soothed and went back to sleep very quickly. I left the nursery confused, but thinking I had misjudged him still being asleep. I put my weird thoughts down to baby brain, and Hunter’s wakeful state down to a sudden change in temperature or loud noise. 

A few nights later it happened again. The cries coming from him were loud and shocking to me- he was practically shrieking in horror. And yet he was lying so peacefully. Something was not right. I stayed back a while, switched on his night light and observed him- and that’s when I knew I wasn’t a crazy lady. Hunter was asleep and yet screaming...

Those who read my blog regularly know that I love to investigate, research and learn, and so will not be at all surprised to read that I did some online research to find out what was happening to his sleep. And that’s how I learnt about Night Terrors, also known as Parasomnia.

What is a Night Terror?

What Causes A Night Terror?

What can be done to stop night terrors?

Dr Chris Seton, staff specialist in the Sleep Investigation Unit at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, says two approaches can be taken to help your child: the hands-off approach and, if this is ineffective, the waking program.

 When To Seek Help

So to sum up, Night Terrors seem to stem from the painful developmental process of going from an infant to a child, and since a majority of growth occurs during periods of restit is no wonder that bubs can experience a night terror or two.

And so, when Hunter is fully grown, I will regale his girlfriends and cool school buddies with the tale of how, as a baby he had night terrors, and how, as a creepy mum, I watched him while he slept.

Justice Never Sleeps,
Sandi D


  1. I'm surprised it's reported as being so uncommon. Adam and I both had night terrors as children. I suspect our son has them, too. What a great post!

  2. I'm a sleep talker/walker from way back. My dad and mum used to wake up to me rummaging around in our spare room looking for the toilet or my lunchbox or other random things. The mister these days still cops the random fist to the face during my nightmares - which always seem to manifest when I've had a really long day with lady chub chub. I'm sure she has also inherited this fun little trait, and we've made the mistake if waking her or picking her up during hers and it ends up upsetting her more and resulting in her getting so worked up she vomits. Ah the things that keep us on our toes!!


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