How do you deal with nightmares?

nightmares, nightmare, toddlers, sleep, dinosaurs

I can’t really blame this guy for giving Toddler Adams nightmares.

I am lacking in sleep, courtesy of Toddler Adams having nightmares. The result has been whaling and drama in the middle of the night. Peace has only been restored when I have settled down to sleep on a mattress in her room

While this approach has settled her down, I’m a bit concerned. If it goes on too long, I’m worried she’ll expect it every night. Call me old fashioned, but I feel the natural place for me to sleep is in the room next door with Mrs Adams, not on a mattress designed for toddlers underneath a blanket featuring an Anna and Olaf print.

This is unchartered territory for Mrs Adams and I. We’ve been supremely lucky with our two kids. Since the earliest days, they’ve settled at night with ease. Sure, there’s been the occasional bad night but they’ve been so few and far between I think I can count them on the fingers of one hand.

In other words, we’re not used to dealing with screaming children at three am. The occasional wet bed or nightmare that’s dealt with via a cuddle, yes, but full on tantrum, no.

Even so, we have learned a valuable lesson. Toddler Adams watched a documentary with her big sister the other day. It was about dinosaurs. It was all very anodyne and part way through she wandered off, bored with the whole thing.

With retrospect, however, it maybe wasn’t all that wise to let her watch this programme. Something about it registered with her because nightmare she complained of featured…dinosaurs.

That said, I have got another theory. While I don’t doubt for a second she’s had nightmare or two, her reluctance to sleep alone has coincided with the arrival of a new bedside lamp. She’s always insisted on sleeping with a light being left on so she isn’t hugely photo sensitive.

Only thing is, for the past two nights I’ve made it a condition that if I sleep in her room, the light goes off. She’s whinged a bit, but dropped off very quickly after I’ve turned the light out.

I have a sneaky suspicion the bulb in the light is too bright. Either that or it’s that bit closer to replicating sunlight, leaving her sleep disturbed.

One of my first jobs today will be to replace that bulb. As for dinosaur documentaries, they’re already off the menu.

If, however, you have any hints and tips for placating a toddler upset by their dreams, please do leave a comment below. I’m really not sure I want to keep Anna and Olaf company for a third night.

Pic credit: Scott Kinmartin. Reproduced under Creative Commons agreement. Sourced from

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  1. January 20, 2016 / 4:04 pm

    When she settled back to sleep do you creep out? I seem to remember one of mine going through a phase like this. We tried everything! It was a phase though and soon passed. We just became acutely aware of anything that might set off nightmares.

    • John Adams
      January 21, 2016 / 10:30 am

      Well Suzanne, she would drift off with one of us in the room at the beginning of the night but wake up at 2-3am and have a tantrum. That said, last night was peaceful (and I did change that awful light bulb!).