In a past blog we talked about the issue of night terrors and the article really resonated with a lot of parents. If your child is under 3 then night terrors is probably not the reason your little one keeps you awake at night. So, I went back and did my research. I wanted to find the problem and the right answers as to why your little bub had gone from a great sleeper to a terrible sleeper overnight. The most common answer is separation anxiety.
If you’re facing sleep issues and your child is around 7-8mths of age, 18mths of age and or 2 years of age and the following situation sounds like your life please read on because this may seriously help you better understand why and what you can do.
- Your baby is very clingy and cries when you leave the room or hand them over to someone else.
- Your child has suddenly started waking frequently during the night screaming for you.
- Refuses to go to sleep if you’re not beside them.
- Only falls asleep when co-sleeping.
Firstly, please don’t stress, this is a stage every single child goes through. In fact it’s a healthy sign of their mental development. So on one hand you’re winning because you know your child is developing normally. On the other hand you’re losing because none of you are getting any sleep. So why does it happen and what the hell can you do to help get your little bub through it and sleeping better?
You may be surprised to learn that in the first few months of your baby’s life, they really aren’t able to distinguish between adults. In fact to them each and every adult feels and looks pretty much the same. Not what you want to hear as a parent but you may change your mind very soon… Beginning at around 7 or 8 months your baby will start being able to tell one adult from another and that’s when they start becoming a lot more attached and clingy to mum and dad. In this way, separation anxiety is actually a good sign; it indicates that a baby is forming strong, healthy attachments to their parents.
It is at this age that your baby will start developing the concept of object permanence. So what is permanence?
In the early months of life, babies don’t understand object permanence; once an object (or a person) disappears from their line of sight to them it is simply gone. (Now you finally understand why those peek-a-boo games provided such endless hours of fun. You’re essentially the best magician they’ve ever seen. ) At around 7 or 8 months, babies begin to understand that objects and people they can’t see still exist — they develop object permanence. So when you leave the room, your baby understands that you still exist somewhere, and that you can return.
What Is Separation Anxiety, and Why Does It Happen?
Separation anxiety starts in the infant stage — somewhere between 6-10 months, for most babies. You may start to notice that your baby clings to you and cries before you leave her with a babysitter, or at naptime and/or bedtime. Often, separation anxiety appears out of the blue — your baby is fine one day and is a clinging, sobbing, terrified mess the next.
Separation anxiety seems to rear its head most often when parents are transitioning their babies into day care, or into the babysitter’s care. But separation anxiety also affects sleep. It can do real damage to a baby’s sleep schedule, and it can cause even the best sleeper to start waking frequently at night. And this makes sense; a baby who’s deep in the throes of separation anxiety certainly won’t want to be left alone to nap, or to sleep all night. In fact, separation anxiety can be one of the major factors involved in the 8/9/10 month sleep regression.
It’s normal for your little one’s separation anxiety to come and go during their toddler years; it may be better at some points and worse at others. (If your child’s separation anxiety hangs around full-force throughout toddlerhood, that’s normal, too.) Many parents find that separation anxiety resurfaces in a big way around 18 months (coinciding with the 18 month sleep regression) and again around age 2 (again, coinciding with the 2 year sleep regression).
Just as it did in infancy, separation anxiety can really impact your toddler’s sleep. It’s at this stage that naps and bedtime can turn into full blown tantrums and you might find that your toddler starts fiercely resisting bedtime or crying for you repeatedly during the night.
Some Separation Anxiety sleep tips:
Please remember that separation anxiety’s perfectly normal — and from a developmental standpoint, it’s actually a good sign! Yes I hear you……but you’re not getting any sleep and your little one is tired only making things worse.
Let me start off by offering some basic tips and if that doesn’t work there is always Glow Dreaming!
- Develop a good bedtime routine. Create a soothing bedtime routine for your baby or toddler. This will help them relax before bed; it will also provide the kind of consistency and predictability that they need to feel safe.
- Try and put on your best happy calm face. When you put on a worried and anxious face, or when you cry along with your child, you simply reaffirm to your little one that bedtime is, in fact, terrifying, and that they have every reason to be afraid. Instead, work to keep things light and calm at bedtime and nap time. If you seem relaxed and confident, it’ll help your baby or toddler feel that way, too.
- Don’t try to sneak away. It may seem easier to simply wait until your baby or toddler is drowsy or distracted and then slip away. But in the long run, it just makes things worse. It adds to your child’s fear and uncertainty, because now, they’ve learned that if they so much as look the other way, you might literally vanish. Instead, say good-bye (lovingly and firmly) and then let your child see you walk out the door.
These are a few tips that may help you get through separation anxiety but if they don’t work and you want something that will make a guaranteed difference Glow Dreaming can definitely help. Below is just one example of the difference Glow Dreaming can make.
“We received our glow dreaming product on Wednesday. I was so excited to get it going. For the last three weeks our 8.5month old daughter was waking by midnight every night and awake most of the night wanting to play and ending up in our bed. So, Wednesday night: she woke at 1.30 and was only awake for 1.5hrs, I went in for a bit and then walked out, she laid there for a while watching the red light and vapours and eventually put herself back to sleep. Thursday night: she woke at 3.50 and I went straight in and gave her her dummy and blanket back and walked out, she was back asleep within 30-40mins. Last night: she didn’t wake at ALL!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much this product is amazing!!!!”
If you want to take a 28 day challenge and finally bring sleep to your household, you can buy a Glow Dreaming on our website http://glowdreaming.com/shop-glow-dreaming/