A lively imagination often gives temporary birth to monsters, dragons, ghosts, and other mysterious creatures of the dark. Fear of the dark is common as a child's mind becomes capable of inventing its own stories. (You can actually think of night fears — the result of an overactive imagination — as a sophisticated cognitive development.)
To help calm your child:
Take the fear seriously. Never belittle it or make fun of your child's fantasy.
Skip the logic. A patient explanation that there's no way a monster could live in the closet but only at night won't wash.
Look at the room from your child's viewpoint. Maybe there's a weird shadow that really does look like a spiderweb.
Try some light. The reassuring glow of a nightlight or a light in the hallway has vanquished many a scary creature.
Give a little extra TLC. Often fears reflect some other anxiety in your child's life; she might just want some hugs and snuggles. A happy and secure bedtime routine before your child is tucked in is important, too.
Getting bored serving the same old snacks? Jazz up old standbys by cutting sliced cheese into shapes with cookie cutters or spreading peanut butter on a tortilla instead of bread and rolling it up. Serve pint-size versions of grown-up favorites, such as fruit smoothies made with yogurt and served with a sippy straw. Or go cold: Mash up berries and mix in a little water, then freeze in ice-pop molds.