Separation Anxiety at Night

Sleeping baby

Separation anxiety is a tough one for any sleep-deprived parent, and although challenging and incredibly frustrating at times, it is a normal stage in your baby’s development. They just think that they will never see you again, so you can understand why they get in such a state. It tends to begin around 6 months and continue, whether constantly or sporadically, until the age of 4 – 5 years old. We thought we’d cracked it, but after a short bout of Chicken Pox, it reappeared with a vengeance, and is only now dissipating after a good two weeks.

So, here are some methods that are well worth trying so that baby goes to sleep in a happy mood.

Playing hide and seek from an early age is a fun engagement for both of you. Hide behind your hands, a blanket or behind a door and reappear to a giggling baby. Over time, gradually increase the periods that you are hidden. This will show your baby that you come back, even after a short time. As they grow they will learn hide too.

Leave their room and busy yourself outside, so they know you are still close by. You could talk to them to, or if you are in possession of a tuneful voice a familiar song would go down quite nicely.

Say ‘bye bye’ and wave as you leave the room, and then come back in, always with a happy demeanour. Gradually increase the gap that you are away from baby.

Gradually move out of the room if your baby is really struggling. You might find that holding their hand will calm them enough before you to slowly move towards the door. You could try speaking softly if baby begins to get stressed and once they calm, move closer to the door.

Break up bedtime with your partner so that baby doesn’t get solely reliant on you. This will also share the burden of dealing with the anxiety so it’s not as stressful for the parents too.

And lastly, keep your promises. Older babies understand far more than you would believe so if you say you will be back, they may well expect you to come back. Gradually increase the time spent away from them, and after a few attempts in one night, you might even find that they’ve fallen asleep before you go back into the room.

Most infants naturally grow out separation anxiety with time, but if after trying out these methods you are at all concerned that there may not be something quite right, consult your midwife or health professional for advice.

As always, very happy to listen to any methods you have tried and tested.

The Complete Sleep Guide For Contented Babies and Toddlers by Gina Ford

For further reading, The Complete Sleep Guide For Contented Babies and Toddlers by Gina Ford is an excellent source of information on this topic as well as other sleep related matters.

Stay strong,

Bid Daddy


 

Photo accreditation: Raúl Hernández González (flickr)

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