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Not a tantrum...what could this be?

759 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  TEAK's Mom
My dd is 18 months old and has never really been a crier. She has started to have the occasional tantrum and those do get pretty intense, but I think I am good at understanding the reasons for tantrums and helping her through them.

But, twice now, she has done something that has truly baffled (and kind of scared) me. She will be fast asleep at her afternoon nap, which usually lasts two hours. After about an hour, she goes from fast asleep to screaming hysterically and out of control. This goes on for nearly an hour. This is not just crying, but screaming, thrashing, and unable to talk. Nothing seems to work to comfort her. It's like she's not able to process. So, I just stay with her and talk or sing quietly and stroke her gently if she lets me. Finally, she calms down. Then, she usually needs to be held or in her sling for about a half an hour. After that, she is ready to nurse. Then, she is fine for the rest of the day.

What could be causing this? Bad dreams that she can't shake? Unprocessed stress from earlier in the day? Has anyone else experienced this?

Now, this has only happened twice and I have wracked my brain looking for similarities between the two days (food eaten, places gone, people seen, etc). The only thing I have come up with is that they both occurred the day before I started my period (last month and yesterday). But, I just can't see how that would cause her to wake from a sound sleep screaming.

Any ideas? It really scares me...
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could it be night terrors... does she seem to remember any of the episodes... if it is terrors I would do a search but I think i remember it being best to make sure they are in a safe place (sorta like what you would do for a seisure ) and let her get it out, and sleep the rest of the night/nap
May I suggest you do a search on Alethea Solter and Aware Baby. There's a discussion in parenting issues, and some past threads. Dd used to do this, albeit for less than a minute at a time, but think you may find the disussions helpful.
No real ideas....but just want to say that this happened to my daughter once this past summer. She too awoke very suddenly from a nap and screamed and flailed inconsolably for about an hour. I was so worried about her. Very scary. She too has never been a crier. I was totally stunned when this happened.

I ultimately decided that this probably was a daytime version of "night terrors." She really didn't seem to be truly "awake" or present as this was happening, even though her eyes were open.

I wish that I had more information to offer. It hasn't happened again so I haven't actively sought more information on this. Just wanted you to know that you're not alone
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My daughter is also 18 months old and does the same thing. She either a)takes a two to three hour nap and wakes up happy and refreshed, or she b)wakes up after one hour and has a complete, inconsolable meltdown. She screams bloody murder and doesn't want me to hold her, but if I try to put her down, she cries even harder. When she is napping, I keep my eye on the clock, and the one hour mark, I listen for her very carefully. If I hear anything, I try to respond to her right away. The *only* thing that calms her down is to put her in her sling and go outside. If I do it quickly enough, she will sometimes go back to sleep. If for some reason, I don't get there in time, she won't go back to sleep, but the change of scenery seems to soothe her. I have had a feeling it was bad dreams for a while. I think the one hour mark is when she is having her REM sleep, and if anything wakes her up during that time she still has the dream in her head and it is very disturbing.

Today she did this, and when I went to her, she looked very frightened, and said, "FALL DOWN!!" This was the first time she has ever used words in any of these episodes. It kinda confirmed my bad dream theory.

I was able, BTW, to get her to go back to sleep and she has been asleep for nearly three hours.
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Thanks, everyone, for your responses. It's good to know that this happens with others, too. (Although I wish it didn't.)

Monkeysmommy: That's exactly it! It's either a full two to two and a half hour nap or one hour and then screaming. I always try and stay close while she is napping, but maybe from now on, I will be sure to be right there at the hour mark.

I agree with you and StillForest that it is probably dream related. I know that if I have a bad dream and wake up during it, I have trouble shaking it and I'm pushing thirty.

Curious: I will look at Alethea Solter's work.

I guess the reason it doesn't happen at night is that I am right there with her and generally start to sooth her before she's really stirring. During nap time, I am usually trying to get things done.

You ladies are great!
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