More Than Wakeful

Here’s help for more dramatic-though less common-sleep difficulties that can affect 18- to 23-month-olds.

Bad dreams can occur in the middle of the night, resulting in serious fright and loud wailing. This isn’t a time to let your toddler cry it out. Instead, comfort him. If these episodes recur frequently, you may want to eliminate television, since many shows contain images your toddler likely finds confusing and scary. And put a night-light in his room, so that if he awakens, he can be reassured by the familiar surrounding he sees.

Night Terrors
Night terrors tend to occur soon after an over tired toddler has fallen asleep. Your child might scream and appeared terrified. Her eyes may be open, yet she might seem dazed. She’s actually in a state somewhere between sleep and wakefulness. Don’t try to wake her further. “Just be there so she doesn’t hurt herself,” says pediatrician Vincent Iannelli. “She’ll soon fall sleep.”

Climbing out of the crib
When this happens, take safety precautions. First, lower the crib mattress and remove bumpers or anything else your child can use as “stairs.” If that doesn’t help, put the mattress on the floor, or begin using a toddler bed or a regular bed with safety rails.