July 02, 2015

Q: My son has recently started to scream at the top of his lungs when he goes down for bed. He screams "No No No" and "Mommy" like he is terrified of something. The screaming and yelling can go on for over a half an hour if I let it because he doesn't tire out or cry himself to sleep. As soon as I pick him up he's fine. I end up putting him in bed with me and he falls right asleep. What could be causing such terrifying screaming and yelling at bedtime?

A: It’s hard to know what exactly triggered your little one to be so upset when he goes to bed in his own room.  However, there are definitely ways to get his sleep back on track.  As a first step, calm things down by simply staying with him in his room until he falls asleep.  This is better than having him get so upset and then going in to “save” him, which will reinforce the crying and screaming.  Staying in his room will help him return to sleeping in his own bed and ensure that he doesn’t associate his room with being scared and your room with being safe.  Once he starts falling asleep easily in his bed, gradually start to move yourself farther away from his bed by a few feet every 2-3 nights.

Answered by Dr. Jodi Mindell


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