How can you prevent night terrors in toddlers?

How can you prevent night terrors in toddlers?

A night terror of a toddler describes a situation when a toddler begins to feel anxious and restless during bedtime.

Typically a night terror lasts for around fifteen minutes before it subsides. 

There are various symptoms of night terrors, including: 

  • Garbled words
  • Screaming
  • Sitting up in bed
  • Kicking 
  • Abrupt movements
  • Leaping out of bed
  • Appearing anxious 
  • Heavy sweating or breathing

Your toddler is unlikely to reply if a person tries to comfort or speak to them. Instead, he or she may even push someone away if they try to help.

Your child experiencing a night terror is not fully awake, even if his or her eyes may seem open. When he or she finally wakes up, he or she may have confusion. 

After an episode of night terror, your toddler would fall into a deep sleep without thinking too much about the episode. Frequent night terrors can also disrupt sleep, so a toddler may seem more tired than usual the next day. To address night terrors, parents have to be very sensitive and delicate. There are several ways to prevent night terrors in their toddlers.

Here are ten ways to do so: 

#1: Get your child to bed punctually

Your child has to sleep on time, regardless of circumstances. Tuck your child into bed to enable him or her to relax. Getting to bed on time helps your child maintain a routine that is predictable for all. Moreover, a routine can help nurture good quality sleep as well as result in a disciplined lifestyle for when your child grows older. 

#2: Avoid disturbances to your child’s sleep

Try to keep your child’s resting place or bedroom as quiet and as peaceful as possible. This is because when your child is bothered by something, for example, a noise in the distance or even a particular toy, he or she may suffer from night terrors. Many children get disturbed by objects or people around them and thus have night terrors. Be sure that your child sleeps in a serene and quiet environment with minimal noise. Ensure that your child sleeps in a dark or at least dim environment. 

#3: Read a bedtime story to your child

When you read a bedtime story to your child he or she would get caught up by the characters in the story and thus be able to slowly relax and sleep soundly. By relaxing, your child can avoid night terrors. 

#4: Sleep together with your child for a period of time

Try to sleep together with your child at least for some time when your child drifts off to sleep. This is because night terrors typically happen during the first half of sleep. By reassuring your child by sleeping together with him or her, your child can feel more at ease and go to sleep without any incidents

#5: Discourage your child from staying up late

Plan your child’s day well so that he or she follows a fixed schedule as well as stays busy. Your toddler can learn discipline out of a fixed schedule. Also, when your toddler is busy the whole day, he or she would most likely feel tired by bedtime and fall asleep soundly. Do some fun activities with your child especially if your schedule gets monotonous.

#6: Nip the stress problem in the bud

Explore various ways to handle the stress after identifying the stress problem and its root cause. Talk to your child if  your child seems anxious or stressed. Otherwise, a counsellor could help. 

#7: Offer comfort 

If your child has a night terror episode, patiently wait till it is over. While it may be disturbing, your child would not be harmed. Simply provide comfort by cuddling, hugging and gently soothing your child and try to get him or her back to sleep. Speak softly and calmly as shouting will make things worse. Usually the episode will shortly stop on its own [1].

#8: Anticipatory awakening

Wake your toddler who may have night terrors about fifteen minutes or so before she encounters the incident. Hopefully your child would remain awake during the duration of his or her anticipated night terror and then fall asleep again.

Night terrors are common in toddlers, although they can be prevented. By understanding the causes of your toddler’s own night terror, you can better address the issue in the bud and ensure a good night’s sleep for your toddler and hopefully yourself!

Regular sleeping patterns would help your toddler develop discipline and routine. Keep room lighting to a minimum. 


[1]  “Sleep terrors (night terrors),” Mayo Clinic, 23-Apr-2021. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 09-Sep-2022]. 


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