My 19months old daughter, who sleeping between me and my wife, screams (for once or few times) during nighttime/sleeptime but she not waking up.

just scream..... around 2 - 4am and her normal sleep @ 1030pm and last meal (milk) around 930pm

i saw some questions/answers regarding the different is she does not wake up... just scream.

is it she having some nightmare, or night terrors?

if so, how to deal with it? or....?

  • 2
    Is she doing anything besides screaming? How long/how often? Does she get up or scream as she's lying down? Have you talked to her pediatrician?
    – Valkyrie
    Sep 25, 2013 at 11:35
  • just a 1 sound scream, then another sound, then another... few mins once... sometime 1 after 10+ secs...
    – victor
    Sep 26, 2013 at 2:20
  • My son wakes up a lot of time at night. He says "Mama, Mama". then he wants to suck. He is 18 months old. We didn't cut his night milks.
    – hakobe
    Aug 25, 2016 at 13:59

2 Answers 2


It does not sound like night terrors (which are different from nightmares). It sounds like a sleep cry to me. This is a good description of a sleep cry:

Sleep-cries are referred as such as the child is initially still asleep when it 1st occurs. The cries are initially very intense, as if the child is in pain or had a terrible nightmare. This initial intense cries often subside on it's own within 2-5mins, followed by fussy/complainy/whiny cries, and the child is in deep sleep again within 7-15mins. Hence, the importance of waiting for a few mins. If one rushes in, one risks actually waking the child and create an actual nightwaking.

If the child is overtired, these sleep-cries will be more frequent (at multiples of a sleep cycle-45mins), slightly/moderately overtired-every 3hrs, moderate to severely overtired-every 1.5hr or sooner. The more overtired the child and the less practise the child has at independent sleep, the more difficulties the child will have in transitioning from 1 sleep cycle to the next and the more likely the sleep-cry will develop into a full-blown nightwaking.


As far as I understand these cries occur on sleep cycle transitions and indicate overtiredness. Has your child been sleeping less than usual? It is well-known that at 18 months comes a very challenging sleep regression where toddlers need to sleep but have a difficult time. That can lead to overtiredness no matter what you do, leading to the sleep cries you are hearing now. Also remember that toddlers need a fairly early bedtime (6-8 p.m. is recommended by most sleep experts) and a solid nap every day to prevent overtiredness.


My daughter does the exact same thing and has done so for almost 2 years. (She is almost 3 now.) The other night she was doing this every half hour or so. Sometimes waking, sometimes not.

Finally, I put 4 drops of lavender essential oil and 3 drops of an essential oil blend (blend of ylang ylang, patchouli, tangerine, and orange) in a diffuser and one drop on the bottoms of each of her feet and she didn't wake up or cry out one more time that night. She woke up in an awesome mood, too!

My friend's daughter was also experiencing this for years. Now they diffuse it in her room every night and she hasn't had an issue since.

  • Welcome to Parenting.SE. We discourage specific product recommendations, so I've made your post more general. Thanks for the aromatherapy anecdote!
    – Acire
    May 27, 2015 at 16:48

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