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  Sleep - Night Terrors
My baby is six months old and sleeps well generally. But in the last few weeks he has occasionally woken in the middle of the night screaming. I get quite afraid because he does not seem to know where he is, and it is really hard to calm him down. Sometimes he cries for an hour or more. Should I go to the doctor, even though he seems healthy in every other way?

Your baby is experiencing night terrors. They differ from nightmares, where your baby has a bad dream and then you comfort him. Night terrors are very scary for all involved because the baby is inconsolable, and sometimes does not even seem to know his parents. Although it is a horrible experience, it is very normal and not uncommon.

No-one really knows why babies have night terrors. One study seemed to show that over-stimulation is a major contributor to the experience. Six-month-old babies are so full of the joys of discovering the world, that it is easy to forget that they are very small and easily over-stimulated. Try to have a couple of quiet days with him where you limit his exposure to stimulation, and see if you can make a link between these two factors in your particular case. If you can, it can be a useful marker for you to indicate when he is over-stimulated. Seeing your doctor or health care worker is always a good idea if you are concerned about something. The reassurance that baby is fine may help you cope with this difficult situation when it arises!

See also:

Sleep - Altered sleep routine

Sleep - Appropriate sleep routines (Jacqui Flint advises)

Sleep - Background noise

Sleep - Dealing with Catnapping (Author Erica Neser advises)

Sleep - Darkened room

Sleep - Reasons for waking

Sleep - Sighing

Sleep - Sleep routines for Baby (Author Erica Neser advises)

Sleep - Surviving Co-sleeping (Author Erica Neser advises)

Sleep - Toddler Sleep Problems (Author Erica Neser advises)

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