What causes nightmares in toddlers?

nightmares in children

If your toddler wakes up from a nightmare crying and afraid, you probably wonder what causes nightmares in toddlers. Do not worry as this is very common [1] and most of the toddlers experience some or the other kind of nightmare around their third birthday. Some children go on having nightmares at times even after their fourth birthday. Nightmares can be frightening for both parents and the child. A nightmare in a toddler is not very different from an adult and so you can help your little one by following some techniques:

* Set up a regular bedtime routine and try to go to sleep at least 30 minutes before this time. Falling asleep before the actual sleep time is considered good for children of all ages, including toddlers.

* If your child is not yet able to tell you the story of the nightmare, you can ask him/her about it in the morning and try to find out if there is anything that triggered this dream.

nightmares in children

* The last meal before going to sleep should be at least two hours before bedtime as eating too much or too close to the sleep time could also cause nightmares.

* If your child's nightmare includes a scary person or object, try talking to him about it and tell him that there is nothing to be scared of as the persons/objects are not real.

* Nightmares can sometimes make children feel very afraid. You must assure your child that it is okay to feel afraid, but there is nothing to be scared of.

nightmares in children


* Try using a night light if your child wakes up in the middle of the night and feels frightened. Singing soft lullabies or reading books together can also help him overcome his fear.

* You must let your child express his fears even if you do not understand them. This will help him let go of some of the fear that he felt during his nightmare.

* If nightmares continue frequently, do talk to your child's pediatrician about it and seek medical advice as soon as possible.

nightmares in children



Nightmares can be scary for parents too and you must try and calm yourself down before dealing with your child's fear. You can also use some comforting words and hug your little one as he comes back to his senses. Nightmares usually do not signify any sort of psychological problem and they can be dealt with easily if approached in the right way. Try these few simple techniques and you will find that nightmares in toddlers are not so scary after all!


Reference

1.) Nightmares in Children: Causes and Prevention (clevelandclinic.org)

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