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Children & Parenting
Scared of the Dark?
By CaffeinePremium member Comments: 3194, member since Wed Aug 08, 2007
On Fri May 30, 2014 05:05 PM

M is 20 months now, and bedtimes for the most part have been pretty good. We watch some gentle shows on tv - In the Night Garden or Miniscule - followed by Giggle and Hoots Lullaby, which is the trigger for a bath, bottle, book and bed. Every night, same routine.

The last couple of nights he's been messing around at bedtime: kicking the book off the table etc and generally being difficult, but I attributed that to him being a bit unwell at the moment.

(Because he's so congested, we have a steam vaporiser in his room right now. This may be pertinent)

Last night was a nightmare. He was awake and screaming pretty much every 15 mins from midnight to 5am. He'd calm down if one of us went in and sat in the rocker with him, but he would.not.sleep. He's still in a cot, but there's a 'big bed' in there as well, and N spent two hours trying to get him to sleep cuddled up together in the big bed. Didn't work.

M is not verbal yet (says a few words and understands a lot, but doesn't talk in a way to explain his fears), so we cant ask what was scaring him, but it was quite clear something was. I did turn a light on briefly and he stared at the window and his steam vaporiser, but didn't do anything else except faceplant my armpit.

I left a small nightlight on in there, but that didn't seem to help.

I'm desperately hoping this won't ge a regular thing.

Any advice?

6 Replies to Scared of the Dark?

re: Scared of the Dark?
By YumYumDoughnutPremium member Comments: 8688, member since Sat Jul 10, 2004
On Fri May 30, 2014 07:26 PM
Edited by YumYumDoughnut (99333) on 2014-05-30 19:27:52
Is your baby getting his second molars?

When I was a nanny, the baby was very similar to what you describe and his back molars were coming in. Whenever I rocked the baby, he seemed to calm down a little bit, but unless he was being rocked, he would barely sleep. He was such an awesome sleeper until those molars. I was reading in my parenting book that molars are a lot more painful because of the size, and some might even get a fever.
re: Scared of the Dark?
By imadanseurPremium member Comments: 16604, member since Thu Dec 04, 2003
On Fri May 30, 2014 07:56 PM
My son had nightmares A LOT from 10-13. Most of the time one of us had to go sleep in bed with him. I think he was partially scared of the dark too...so we got him a lava lamp and that helped. It was a "cool" lamp so we didn't make a big deal out of him needing the light, but it definitely helped. He is 18 and still goes to sleep with the tv on with the volume on mute.

This might not help since your kids are so much younger, but we found that soothing him and not leaving him alone helped him. Sometimes it didn't help us for sleepless nights, but he eventually grew out of it.
re: Scared of the Dark?
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 8949, member since Sat Jul 19, 2003
On Fri May 30, 2014 08:04 PM
Maybe try an actual lamp? My sister is almost 21 and still sleeps with her bedside lamp and the bathroom light on.
re: Scared of the Dark?
By Nyssasisticmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3643, member since Sat Sep 20, 2003
On Fri May 30, 2014 08:59 PM
Renee, was it REALLY that long ago? I remember your posts regarding it. Can't believe he's already 18!

Caffeine, at 20 months I don't know that I would attribute it to being scared of the dark. If he's feeling poorly AND has a foreign, weird-looking thing in his room, he may just need more attention/comfort. Young children also often go through stages where they need comfort more than they characteristically do. If possible, hang in there a few more nights before you try to make any changes.

From personal experience, at about this age with Digs I had gotten lax on his bedtime and it resulted in a few weeks of night terrors on his part. Once I started making sure he got plenty of sleep, it wasn't a problem. Now, even at 6, if he doesn't get enough sleep the world falls apart and he becomes incredibly needy/clingy/bad tempered. If M just isn't sleeping well due to being congested, then he could very well just be super-cranky at night and insist on your presence.

My 2 cents, for whatever they're worth ;)
re: Scared of the Dark?
By CaffeinePremium member Comments: 3194, member since Wed Aug 08, 2007
On Sun Jun 01, 2014 05:54 AM
Thanks for all the input. Last night was a MUCH better night: I think sheer exhaustion kicked in and he slept for 12 hours straight.

I did remove the steamer from his room (although I'm not sure why that'd scare him, as it's on every time he gets a bad cold) and marginally increased the amount of light in there, so maybe that helped as well.

YYD: I don't think it's his second molars yet. His first lot of molars have just finished coming through, and I'm expecting him to turn feral with his canines before the next lot of molars. He seems to be at the later edge of tooth development.

Renae: I totally agree with the 'soothe them, don't leave them' mentality! I was prepared to spend all night last night in his room if it meant he'd sleep; fortunately I didn't need to. I'll keep the lava lamp idea in mind, though, in case it is the dark that was worrying him.

Kekoa: I tried the lamp in there (briefly), but it was way too bright, and at 2am the last thing I want is M going "It's light - it must be morning, time to play!" When he fights to go down at bedtime, we actually need to turn OFF most lights that reflect towards his room, so he gets the idea that dark=bedtime!

Nyssa: You're probably right - just a culmination of being sick, sleeping badly, and maybe a bad dream thrown in as well, resulting in a whole lot of heartache for us all. I follow the "wonder weeks" philosophy which links crankiness and clingy-ness to leaps in mental development, so I'm used to periodic times where he's attached to me like a limpet, but this was like nothing we've been through so far. He does get super grumpy in the afternoons at the moment, but I just attibuted it to being a wilful toddler, but it could be sleep-related. While we keep his bedtime routine as consistent as possible his naps are all over the place: we can spend an hour trying to settle him for a 30 minute nap, or he'll refuse to nap until just before dinner time. Apparently you can't reason with a toddler when you tell him he needs his sleep...!
re: Scared of the Dark?
By wannabe1 Comments: 24, member since Mon May 26, 2014
On Sun Jun 01, 2014 10:32 AM
I use to need a light on. Leave a lamp or the kandubg/ bathroom light and soon as asleep switch off. Now i Dont need anything.

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