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I believe that the fear of dark if once sets in then doesn't leave easily.

The toddler is 13 months old. She starts crying if left alone when the light goes off at night. She clings to me as long as the light doesn't come back.

Even if the other rooms are properly lit and she's not alone in the house, she doesn't dare to enter the kitchen if its dark.

I mentioned kitchen because it is attached to our living room. Last time when she was playing with a toy, the toy ran in the kitchen accidentally. I was sitting besides her and I told her to go in the kitchen and bring the toy. Instead, she just sat near the kitchen door and started crying while pointing towards the toy.

When I lit the kitchen she went and brought the toy out.

This toddler can run and climb on the sofas, beds, and the window grills, and neither she's afraid of heights and fast swings etc.

BTW, I am 31 years old and quite afraid of the dark.

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I think fear of the dark is perfectly normal . . . it wasn't more than six or seven thousand years ago that there really were monsters in the dark, and a child alone in the dark would not live to see the dawn. –  Marc Aug 5 at 23:52

2 Answers 2

13 months is not that old.

My 14 month old cries if left alone in a room too long, period! (aka more than 5 min unless he is deeply engrossed in stacking something)

have you considered:

  • When she is in her room in the dark, it is separation anxiety and not fear of the dark? Does she cry when if the light is still on?

  • How does she react to low light, like a night lamp? That is quite common for babies, and kids, to have, and doesn't mean they will fear the dark when older.

  • Are you afraid when sitting with her in the dark? She probably picks up on your non-verbal clues.

  • For going and picking up toys: She probably hasn't walked for very long, maybe she is worried about falling?

  • Is she maybe afraid of going in there alone? What if you goes with her in the dark?

  • lastly, have you considered an eyesight issue? Maybe she just doesn't see as well in the dark as she should? Some people have very bad night vision/

I think that most 13 months old are afraid of being alone, and see what happens if you look at it from that angle. Not being afraid of climbing and jumping off things has more to do with in-ability to understand the consequences - I have not personally seen caution as a trait in kids until 2 years of age.

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The ways we handled this issue:

  • gradually let the get used to the dark by employing low-power nightlights

  • when the child is a little older (3-4) explain about night vision in low light and demonstrate how it works. SOMETIMES the fear of the dark is simply about fear of not seeing.

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This is the approach that I've used with our boys. I was open about the fact that it's normal and acceptable to be afraid of the dark. The quote: "BTW, I am 31 years old and quite afraid of the dark." is both funny and relevant. Say that it's okay to be nervous and mitigate the problem by using a dim night light to take the edge of the darkness. Ensure that the children can't see the light, just the reflected glow it gives off. Looking at any kind of light, even a dim one, will impact on your night vision which makes the problem worse. –  Dave M Aug 14 at 9:08

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