Can Babies Have Nightmares?

can babies have nightmares

Your baby can cry in the mid of the night due to various reasons. The most common is for feed and diaper change. These can be easily soothed just by doing the necessary action. Illness can also lead to crying babies during the night.

There is another reason why you would be confused about how to soothe the baby. The baby seems awake but screams a lot. Your baby might experience nightmares. If your baby experiences nightmares what should you do? Get to know the facts here.

When do babies start experiencing nightmares?

  • When babies still close their eyes and cry a lot, this can be a sign of a nightmare.
  • Though it is not clear if younger babies would have nightmares, it can be seen that babies from the age of 18 months old can have nightmares making them lose sleep and scream.
  • Thankfully, nightmares would not affect the babies the next morning. It is scarier for the parents than for the baby.
  • Nightmares usually do not kick in when your baby has just slept. It happens during the late part of the sleep.

What should you do when your baby has nightmares?

  • A consistent sleep pattern is not established for any child completely until they are 3 years old. Till then babies wake up for feed and diaper changes and can have inconsistent sleep patterns.
  • When your baby screams due to a nightmare and wakes up, you need to assure the environment is safe for her to get back to bed.
  • Experts advise dark rooms for sleeping because it helps in the production of melatonin in the brain. This is common for every human. Ensure your baby’s room is dark, or mildly lit. This induces sleep.
  • When you want your baby to get back to sleep, simply massage the baby. You can choose any comfortable position for you and your baby. A gentle massage relaxes the baby and lets her drift back to sleep.
  • You can also try feeding your baby. When the tummy is full, it is usual for anyone to feel drowsy. However, you need to ensure you feed only enough to see if they get back to sleep.

These techniques help the baby to sleep again after a nightmare and a screaming session. Also, parents can use this every night to ensure the baby gets a relaxed sleep.

Pro Tip: Making the baby tired is believed to be the best way to make her sleep. On the contrary, getting tired before sleep does not help a good night’s sleep. Choose the evening hours as these cortisol levels drop down. Cortisol keeps one alert.

Nightmare vs Night terrors

  • During night terrors the baby is still asleep. It happens during the initial part of the sleep hour.
  • Older babies who experience nightmares can explain what they saw the next morning. Younger kids would most often forget, and babies would not be able to remember or communicate with them.
  • During night terrors the babies would never know what happens to them. You can see their eyes closed and wailing. They can make sudden movements, and would not be able to respond.
  • It is important not to wake the child up and stay calm during night terrors. During nightmares, one can try different ways to put the baby back to sleep.
  • Children of 3 to 7 years can experience night terrors while babies of 18 months old can experience a nightmare.

Not many studies are available to see if younger babies too can experience nightmares. Regardless of this, it is important to ensure you soothe the baby and make her get back to sleep.