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How To Prevent Your Child From Having Nightmares

When your child has a nightmare, everyone loses sleep. Make sure his dreams are sweet with these precautions.


  • Step 1: Turn on a nightlight or leave your child’s bedroom door a bit ajar so he won’t be in total darkness.
  • Step 2: Give your child something that you insist will protect him from the bogeyman, like super-hero pajamas or a lucky coin that he keeps on his nightstand.
  • Step 3: If the nightmares become persistent, consider the source. Is your child worried about something—like starting preschool? Help your child to deal with whatever is bothering him—and you’ll both sleep tight.
  • FACT: Children begin having nightmares around age two, and bad dreams are most common between the ages of three and six.
  • Step 4: Offer a bedtime snack that combines tryptophan—the amino acid that makes us sleepy—and healthy carbs. A dab of peanut butter on whole-grain bread or with apples, a boiled egg with toast, or yogurt and blueberries can help bring about a good night’s sleep.
  • TIP: Remember that to a very young child even a fairytale like “Cinderella” can be scary, because of that wicked stepmom and those evil stepsisters.
  • Step 5: Watch your child’s caffeine intake. Soda and iced tea should not be consumed during dinner.
  • Step 6: Make sure your kids are getting enough sleep. Night terrors are more likely to occur in children who are overtired, so don’t give in to those pleas for “five minutes more.”
  • Step 7: Establish a calming and regular bedtime routine, like kissing family members good night, saying prayers, or reading a book. A warm bath can be especially relaxing.
  • Step 8: Monitor your child’s nighttime activities so that he is not exposed to scary images—on TV, in books, or in video games—before bedtime. Don’t let him see or hear disturbing news events, either.
  • Step 9: Try to keep your child on a schedule. Experts say inconsistency can lead to increased nightmares in kids.

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