I believes all parents experienced this,
In the quiet & cold (with air-cond) night, we are sleeping so deeply,and suddenly an alarm burst out... "gosh, oh no! our boy is crying", then both of us has to wake up and hold him, but he don't seem to stop, he is clingy and won't stop crying. What shall we do?
So our S.O.P (standard operating procedure),
1) switch on the light
2) rub baby wind oil on stomach
3) hold him
5) sing nursery rhymes
6) carry him out of the room
Most of the time he stop cry after milk is served. If he still can't, we really really got no choice, music...at the beginning, we gave him ipad to watch youtube, but we felt bad as it seems so wrong, so now we play music or sing rhymes. And keep telling him " it's only a dream".
As we always wonder why and our old folks at home always commented that, "the baby/toddler play too excessively today, then he got nightmare"
How to tell?
Unless my boy can tell in words that he had a nightmare, it's hard to know just what caused his nighttime distress.
As I studied online, I got this,
"Your toddler's nightmares are most likely linked to something that happened just before bed, like listening to a story that scared him or watching an upsetting show.
Stress can also lead to nightmares. Bedtime itself can be a cause of stress, especially for a toddler who has separation anxiety. Being sick or being away from a parent for a stretch of time can also be stressful for toddlers.
But try not to worry or blame yourself. Emotional problems aren't linked to nightmares, and an occasional bad dream is perfectly normal at this age. It probably has nothing to do with anything you said or did."
And we are trying some ways to prevent this nightmare/wake up in the night, so we took the below steps
1) Keep his routine as possible as we can.
2) Colder environment, so he can sleep well (typically 23~25oC)
3) Prevent him to be over excited 1-2 hour before sleep. Instead of playing excessively, we read him stories, teach him ABC, colors, shape, etc.
My son now normally sleep through the night, so it it effective for him.
But this is not 100% effective for everyone, as every toddler is different, and the reason of waking up maybe out of our discussion area, it could be sick, uncomfortable environment,etc.