Our 18-month-old boy has been crying/screaming in his sleep. A lot of sleeping issues. We will try and wake him up. But he continues to cry/scream with his eyes closed for up to an hour after "waking up". He had colic when he was young and has had some of these issues since birth.

His behavior is terror/scared. He wants to be held... but then he doesn't, he'll search for us, then push us away, sitting up, constantly crying the whole way through, even getting in a warm shower, eyes closed. He will open them up just enough to search for us. Then goes back to crying.

He repeats some action like low moans to screams. Anything can cause him to scream/cry. He'll cover his mouth. I think it's out of fear/in terror. She's seen him do the same thing fake crying when hes in trouble. He'll stamp his feet when standing. Again, all these things in repeat. No comfort helps him go back to sleep. No lights on, anything "wakes" him out of this state/actions. But he seems awake enough to find us. But no toys help.. barely his favorite bear. Which he'll hug or sometimes drop.

And he's terrified of his crib. Been sleeping with mom amd dad. Then when he's asleep we'll put him in crib. Only to wake up to screaming to wanting to be with us or taken care of... or the weird situation with eyes closed.

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    Hi and welcome to Parenting.SE! "She's seen him do the same thing fake crying [...]" Who is "she"? Have you already seen a doctor? Commented Feb 7, 2019 at 14:22
  • Please have patience with your son and comfort him as much as possible when this happens. He is not doing this intentionally. Commented Feb 8, 2019 at 18:39
  • @Rainer: it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t do it intentionally. For the parents this is terror and when they go on “to comfort him as much as possible” they are reinforcing this behaviour it can be that they will arrive in a psychiatric hospital. Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 6:27

2 Answers 2


My son had a few instances of Night Terrors at about this same age. I thought he was awake as he would physically get out of bed, so he was actively moving around, scream/crying at the top of his lungs. I found out later that it was thought to be from over-stimulation. My son seemed inconsolable at the time. I successfully got him to calm down during one episode by saying, "shhhhh, you'll wake up the baby". He woke up and looked around... I guess he thought he might be at day care.

Anyway, your son is not faking anything. Help him calm down before bed so he can get more restful sleep. Try to get him to sleep earlier and help him to learn to sleep in his own room. See if your son's crib can be turned into a toddler bed (many can), he might be more comfortable in that. This was short lived for my son and I. It happened a handful of times and then it stopped as suddenly as it started. I'm hope it will be the same for you as well.

  • The term “night terror” is missleading. It is not the baby that deems to have a night mare. It’s a nightmare and a terror for the parents. Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 6:32
  • @AlbrechtHügli LOL No, my son was actually in a state of panic. Asleep, but sheer panic. Now (decades later) I wonder if he wasn't having his first dream, or nightmare, and simply wasn't old enough to understand what was happening. Thankfully, this was a short-lived issue (for us).
    – elbrant
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 7:16
  • I didn’t mean your son, sorry, I was mentioning the baby of the OP you were answering. Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 8:07
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    @AlbrechtHügli No worries. I still think that these "events" are largely due to first dreams. But agreed, not fun for the parents.
    – elbrant
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 19:20
  • My child showed similar behaviour like the OP's child. We looked it up in the baby book "Baby Jahre" from Remo H. Largo and it fit's the explanation there about the night terror. The author suggests to simply wait and not to wake the children as they are still partially asleep in a deep non-REM sleep. The child should be prevented from hurting itself. The night terror is absolutely normal for young children (1-5) and is no identifier for psychological problems.
    – Libranova
    Commented Dec 23, 2021 at 8:39

If you are sure that your baby has no more any colics at all -a doctor should exclude this - this phenomenon may quite well be explained by conditioning:

This could have been an effective learning when the baby had the colic. He has learnt that the parents will come to comfort him. And now he is sustaining this behavior.

No body ha made a fault. Not the parents - not the baby.

But now you should try to ignore the crying. To hear a baby crying is hard and not comforting him seems to break the heart. You might even stick ear plugs in - at least one of you - to find rest. After some nights or some weeks this behavior should hopefully extinct.

  • I strongly disagree. A child in genuine distress should not be left alone. Especially one so young!
    – Libranova
    Commented Dec 23, 2021 at 8:27

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