PTSD in Babies and Toddlers: Symptoms and Treatment

PTSD in Babies and Toddlers

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, more commonly known as PTSD, happens to a lot of adults, but did you know that this can happen to babies, too? Yes, unfortunately, babies are also prone to PTSD. As written in this source, Making matters worse is their inability to express exactly what it is that they feel as babies are preverbal and toddlers are not yet so skillful with verbal communication. Some mothers turn to a humidifier for babies as the answer, but it may be a little more complex than that.

However, there are symptoms that can give parents and guardians a hint that their babies are experiencing PTSD.


Hypervigilance means having the inability to feel comfortable or relaxed despite being in a safe and comfortable environment. This can easily be mistaken for anxiety or that the baby is just a natural worrier, but it is better to be sure. So if you have observed that your child seems to be more watchful and anxious than not, maybe it’s time to consider having him checked.

Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

This symptom can be hard to spot. Most kids do not like being separated from their parents or guardians at all. Even on their first day of school, parents and children are having a hard time separating. In fact, parents might feel this as much as their kids do. However, if the separation anxiety seems to be ongoing and has been for a long time, too, you might want to treat this as more than the normal case of separation anxiety.

Emotional Troubles

Babies and toddlers cannot communicate well verbally, but that doesn’t mean that they cannot communicate at all. PTSD’s have triggers as they are all caused by something. A child shows emotional distress whenever they are faced with the thing that caused their trauma; it can be an image, sound, or even smell. If your child repeatedly shows emotional distress over something, consider this a sign of PTSD.

Fearing or Avoiding a Certain Place

Just like how children react to sounds, images, and smell, they also tend to avoid or fear certain places where a traumatic event happened or at least reminds them of it. For example, some children do not like clinics as clinics remind them of the pain they felt when they were vaccinated. A child can show the exact same fear in any other place.

Sleep Trouble

This is the fear of actually falling asleep, or falling asleep alone in their room. For some kids, being afraid is normal and it goes on for a number of days or weeks. However, if it’s ongoing for months yet they’re not showing any sign of improvement, it might be because of their PTSD.


It might be hard to determine why a baby suddenly wakes up in the middle of his sleep. However, there are common reasons for their crying; hunger and need for a diaper change are some examples. So, if your child keeps crying in the middle of the sleep, and it’s not because of any of the common reasons for babies waking up crying, consider it caused by a nightmare from PTSD.

Repetitive Play

Yes, children often play the same scenarios as simply part of playing. However, children with PTSD often play the exact scenario that caused them their PTDS, too. Be very mindful of the scenes that your child plays with their toys or with other children. This may be the exact horror they experienced.


Fortunately, PTSD is treatable. There are tons of professional help that you can get to help your child. Books, like the one written by Peter A. Levine and Maggie Kline entitled Trauma Through a Child’s Eyes, and websites, like Child Trauma Academy, are available to help you tend to your child’s PTSD, but the most helpful would a professional doctor’s help. Do not try to treat it on your own by getting some tips or using some baby products to soothe your baby’s mood. Seek professional help.


All the symptoms can easily be overlooked as a child’s normal behavior, so you need to be very observant of your child. Trust your instincts and do not play it safe. After all, it’s better to be paranoid yet safe. If any of the symptoms show up, get your child diagnosed to help him or her as soon as possible.

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