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Nap, Torture

I was planning to ask the Hotty Pediatrician about this when I take the kids in in a couple of weeks, but I realized it is one of the things that you people are probably a lot more qualified to offer advice about. I mean sure, he has seven years of medical training, but we have a hell of a lot more kids than he does.

So here's the thing. Owen takes a nap every day after lunch. When he wakes up, he does his usual, cry mildly/throw everything out of his crib/cry mildly some more thing. And then when I pick him up, he starts screaming like I am tearing his arms off and beating him about the head with them. He is miserable, in total agony, spouting tearful, snotful, inconsolable screams for at least ten minutes, and usually more like half an hour. Chris can do something funny and usually jolly him out of it, but the only thing that works for me lie down with him on my chest and sing his Special Soothing Song repeatedly until he calms down. (More on the Special Soothing Song later, in a planned post about Inappropriate Lullabies and how they will come back to bite you in the ass.)

And I would be more worried about this, except that I remember Mia doing the exact same thing at roughly the same age. And even though I know that since both my kids did it there are probably more kids that did it, and even though once he snaps out of it he is is fine and happy and ready for a snack, it is still Worrisome.

And so I want to know, did your kids do this? Do you know why? Do you have a solution, other than a judicious application of Time and Post-Bedtime Alcohol?

Comments (26)

My son does this. It's getting better now (he'll be 3 in September), and it's only once in a while. For several months, though, when he was a little older than Owen, it was every day.

I have no flippin' clue why, so I am anxious to see what your other readers say. I was too -- stubborn? -- to ask anyone, so I just muddled through it. Am smart.

nope, no good advice. but lola still does that, and she's two now. i just do my best to distract her and snap her out of it. often involving the offer of a cookie. all i know is that i'm grouchy when i wake up from a nap, too :)

Huh! Strange.
(Helpful, huh? Sorry, childless reader over here haha. But just think of everything I'll have learned from you all when my time comes! haha)

Maybe he thinks it's mourning rather than morning.
Phooey. I got nothing.

P.S. Post-bedime alcohol?!?
Awesome! I'm gonna start napping at your house!

Maybe he thinks it's mourning rather than morning.
Phooey. I got nothing.

P.S. Post-bedtime alcohol?!?
Awesome! I'm gonna start napping at your house!

My two and half year old does that too. I don't really know why I just always blame it on the fact that he is a cranky kid in general. I let him have a milk sippy and one Noggin show to calm down. After that he tends to be ready to get back to our normal routine. Good luck.

My older one went through a phase of this and can still wake up in a funk on occasion. In current times (he is 3), I find that the less attention I give to it the better- I respond to him but don't coddle. But when he was younger, I would hold him if he wanted & try to find distractions until he snapped out of it. It was frustrating and there didn't seem to be one "good"answer. I don't know if sometimes he wasn't complete awake or just needed more warm up time--maybe he slept very deeply during this nap? I did use a favorite TV show & the offer of drink/snack to ease the transition.
I wish I had better advice to offer & I can't wait to hear about your lullaby!

All 4 of mine did this as well. I think they aren't awake properly. Sort of like a sleepwalker state but more awake, if that makes sense.

My kids did not do this but one does something similar at night. He is older, 6, but has done this for a while. We call it night terrors. About an hour after he has gone to sleep for the night, he'll wake up, totally disoriented, crying, shaking (pretty hard, almost like a mild seizure), asking for me when I am standing right in front of him, etc. It only helps to wake him totally up. I can usually do this by getting his feet on the cold bathroom floor, clapping, shouting a little. Yes, it is a circus at my house. My long winded point is that if what Owen is doing IS in any way similar to what my guy does than anonymous' post above makes sense to me.

Conversely, what if you left him in his crib to finish waking up before you went to get him? Would that make things worse or might he just need that extra transition time before he is moved out of his crib? Obviously, I am guessing but I hope it works out. It sounds like a stressful and time consuming way to end a peaceful time in the house.

My son has done this as well (He's 3). Not sure why it happens, but my theory is that he's 1 - waking up from a dream - not exactly sure when dreams begin tho. or 2 - hasn't slept enough to feel rested when he wakes. Perhaps that's where the crankiness comes in? I think #2 is more likely because if I wake my son up too early, the same thing happens. Lots of hugs/cuddles do seem to help a bit. Or his favorite TV show too. Ask Dr Hotty and let us know what he says!

I agree with the above statements that he's not waking up well. My 2nd went through something like this a while back and it seemed to stop when I stopped getting him right away and stuck my by guns that if he wasn't going to *sleep* til 3:30 then he'd play quietly or just be quiet for a little while. It stopped (the bad wake-ups) and he's very good at playing quietly after waking up, now (and generally amusing himself).

He's more of a crier in general and it helps to talk to him about it and ask him why he's crying and explain that I'm *not going to comfort him if he doesn't have a real reason to cry.

*That's not true, I'd comfort him if he really needed it, but I won't indulge him just being whiny either.

My older one (Mia's age) used to cry for a full HOUR after naps. She was a horrible napper - stroller only, outside only. When she started to give up her nap at 21 months, we encouraged it, by 2 it was gone. And so was that hour of crying. Not helpful, but true. You are not alone.

By the way, on the rare occasions that she dozes off now, she wakes up the same way. Definitely a personality thing.

My younger one (Owen's age) totally different.

My 3-year-old is a grump when he wakes up from a nap but no screaming. I go in and wake him, and then let him lie there for a few minutes more while I do a chore. I then come back to him and give him the option of getting up on his own or having me pick him up.

Do you let him sleep until he wakes up on his own? If not, are you willing to try that?

Sorry to hear about it though. That's never fun.

My son sometimes did this when he woke up from his nap around 12-18 months. I just held him and tried to sooth him as best I could, but it would sometimes take at least 30 minutes for him to calm down. I remember it really freaked me out at the time, but he eventually stopped doing it. Now, at 2 1/2, he can be a total grump after naptime, but not with the hysterical crying.

The Boy did this after his afternoon naps right before he stopped taking them. He's been down to one nap a day -- usually in late morning -- for several months now and wakes up happy from it.

Both my girls had night terrors, in which they were still basically asleep but would scream and carry on like banshees. We had trouble finding a way to calm them down too -- it just took time. Eventually they did outgrow it (it wasn't really too long a time either, more like a couple of months).

Sounds almost like Owen is also in a half awake/half asleep state when this happens.

And yes, I am an advocate of the Post-Bedtime Alcohol.

Our youngest is 18 months old, and has just started doing this recently. My sense is that he's woken up before he's quite ready; most often he likes to snuggle up and hold my hair (his idea of a blankie... I know; didn't think that through) for a few minutes, and can then either be coaxed out of it (ok, let's change your diaper or get a snack, etc...) OR distracted out of it (oh, I think I see a flying elephant! or d'ya hear that?! let's look out the window for an airplane...) etc. You get the picture...

Yeah, if the hotty pediatrician doesn't have kids, he'll be clueless and then try to come up w/ a theory... does he have kids? It should be a requirement, no?

Teeth? I dunno, I'd say he's just going through a bad wake-up phase, but crying like that makes me think, maybe.....something? Also, right before kids hit a big milestone or a growth spurt, they tend to regress (I'm totally not making this up and wish I could remember the educational theory to provide a reference)and the weepy crying could fit the bill.

Post-bedtime wine is a staple around here regardless of WHAT kind of day we've had.

Wow, I bet all these comments about others going through the same thing make you feel so much better. Which is good because I had nothing. It's been 5 years since I had a toddler, and I've blocked all that out.

But I think they're definitely on to something when they say he's not fully awake. I DO remember night terrors, and they were a bitch.

I can hardly wait for the Inappropriate Lullabies.

I'd also guess teeth - it seemed to bother my kids more upon awakening and getting vertical, something to do with blood flow maybe. Maybe try giving him a few frozen peas when he wakes up? No fun, good luck!

None of my girls woke-up this way but my middle daughter has night terrors and I hear they are supposed to out-grow them by 6 but she is 5 and it's not showing signs of stopping so I am not holding my breath.

My pediatrician told me to 'almost' wake her right before I go to bed to reset the clock in hopes that she won't 'wake-upí screaming during the night. I am just not brave enough to give that advise a try for fear that I will wake her all the way and we won't be going to bed for the next few hours. All I know is when she is screaming from a terror she isn't all the way awake and we have to just be patient with her and gently wake her out of it. And for her the terrors are always worse if she goes to bed upset or she has any stress.

Does he wake-up on his own? What if you were to go in and wake him 10 minutes before his usual time of waking up and you wake him up, would he still be upset?

I really have no idea what to tell you... Just that I hope it gets better soon. I am sure it's probably the dreaded part of your day. I know how I feel about the terrors over here and they make me crazy!

My kids have occasionally done that, but not frequently. I just chalked it up to not quite being ready to wake up. However, I do have a friend with a daughter who wakes up like this regularly and she has come to the conslusion, at least in her daughter's case, that she is a little "low-blood-sugarish" when she wakes up. A little juice in a sippy cup seems to do the trick in bringing her around.

Hopefully you will find somehing that works. Good luck!

Is his "special soothing song" I like big butts?

(can not WAIT for this posting)

Theo does this too in the afternoon but not all the time. It's SO ODD. And he's SOBBING and MISERABLE and I honestly don't know what causes it. Then the afternoon is kind of sour for him. Not horrid, but not is joyful self like he was in the morning.

SO INTERESTED in hearing what the Ped (and internet) has to say!

Mine have done it too but it is always, ALWAYS when they are still tired. About half the time if I leave my daughter in her crib for a little bit, she'll go back to sleep and wake up better. It's rotten, I know, and I feel for you!

My kids did that WHEN I sang to them. :)

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