Separation anxiety / sleep regression

(17 Posts)
Beckyp246 Sun 05-Oct-14 13:48:53

Today 11:46 Beckyp246

Hello, was wondering if anyone could advise on sleep regression due to separation anxiety.

My son is 9.5 months and has slept through the night since 5 months. The sleep training we did previously wasn't anything specific but probably closest to the 'no cry' method, I.e. we slowly decreased the rocking etc until he went into cot awake and happily got himself to sleep. Through this he gradually slept longer and longer until he dropped the night feeds himself.

HOWEVER due to a series of events - our first weekend away (son came with us), his first real illness and his Dad returning to work after a 3 month sabbatical, we're now in the situation that our baby screams hysterically the moment he's left in his cot, and has also started waking in the night and just won't be settled. He screams, won't allow us to soothe him (pushes hand away etc) and keeps getting onto all fours and standing up in cot. He's been crawling and standing for a few months now so I don't think it's the mobility which is causing the issue itself although it obviously doesn't help!

After lots of research we are planning to use the gradual retreat sleep method as I really do feel that leaving him when he is so clearly scared of being by himself would be counterproductive. He also has a will of iron (!) and can become absolutely hysterical, so I don't feel any sort of controlled crying is going to work in this instance.

Sorry for rambling long post but any advice on how other parents have dealt with sleep training during separation anxiety would be so helpful. My husband is working out the house 7am-7pm so I am handling the majority of this solo and would so like to try and do the right thing first time. My son is incredibly, incredibly active during the day and I'm not sure how on earth I'm going to cope with that when neither of us are getting any rest to start the day off!

Thanks so much! xx

Rachel153 Mon 06-Oct-14 19:43:56

Watching with interest as 7mo dd also has will of iron and is hysterical if put in cot awake. Hoping to start gradual retreat next week when she's over her cold but I'm really not looking forward to it. I'm not very confident it will work but I hope it does. I'm fed up of rocking her to sleep only for her to wake up the min I transfer to the cot. I know she can self settle coz I've heard her do it in the night sometimes

Beckyp246 Tue 07-Oct-14 04:52:13

Hi rachel153, we're on second day of gradual retreat and so far it's working! No wake up from ds yet! Unfortunately I've been awake since 3.45 anticipating the wake up, always the way! So early days so far, but if nothing else bedtime itself has been so much easier and calmer. First night he shouted for 10 mins but didn't get hysterical as he had been previously (when we'd left room). He woke crying 3-4 which was rough as I really wanted to pick him up, but finally calmed him through voice and touch. Last night's bedtime there was no crying at all, asleep within 5 mins. And no wake up as yet. Obviously we're still standing right by his cot at this point so we'll have to see how it goes as we retreat, but I'm very happy that he is calmer and obviously reassured.
The separation anxiety has been horrible - my ds is no stranger to a good old 'I'm angry now' cry but the cries recently have been most definitely for real and he's been genuinely upset. So far this soft approach seems to be helping and he is happier all round. I've also been putting him in his cot a few times a day and reading to him and playing peek a boo behind the nursery door, to try and get him comfortable in his cot again. He used to love it there but since the anxiety kicked in, hated being in there for even a second, even if I was still in the room.
Good luck with it all, let me know how you get on! x

rootypig Tue 07-Oct-14 04:56:24

No real advice, other than I think your instincts are absolutely right - stay there with him, and help him to understand his cot and his room as a safe place. Imo (and experience) always going to a child as soon as they cry in the night helps them to return to sleeping through fairly quickly after illness, moving, jet lag, development changes and so on.

We did pick DD up and it didn't cause any problems (i.e. she didn't form a sleep association with it) - so I don't know how wary of that you have to be.

Separation anxiety is hard flowers. I think it comes and goes in waves all through life!

Beckyp246 Tue 07-Oct-14 05:13:34

Thanks rootypig, so reassuring! I know, it's been really upsetting seeing him so insecure about life, the poor little thing. Am giving as many cuddles during the day as he will let me (!) so hopefully he will start to feel more confident again soon. Only reason I don't pick him up in night is because the little monkey thinks he's breaking free (and coming into our room) and then gets so disappointed and upset when he's back in the cot again ... so just seemed a bit kinder to not get his hopes up. So hard to do though! x

rootypig Tue 07-Oct-14 05:28:54

Ah yes that does make sense. I think the picking up or not really depends on the LO, some find it reassuring, some too stimulating. DD hated it and would struggle to break free, so it was actually excellent for getting her to lie back down in her cot! grin

Rachel153 Tue 07-Oct-14 15:28:41

Thanks Becky good to know you're having a positive time with gradual retreat. I really hope it works for us! I'm not feeling v confident as dd sobbed her heart out for 17 solid minutes the other night even though dh was cuddling her-all because she wanted mummy and not daddy! I didn't realise 7 month olds could be so will ful!

NickyEds Tue 07-Oct-14 20:59:56

Watching with interest. DS is 9 months and has recently begun to sob in his cot when he wakes up. Every 90 minutes or so. All night. So far we've been taking him out of his cot and cuddling him on the bed until he goes back to sleep then firmly crossing our fingers when we put him back to bed. Last night in desperation I put him back in his cot and just patted his back until he went back to sleep. It took absolutely ages and broke my heartsad.
I'm going to try it again tonight- really not looking forward to it. I sometimes think me being there is making it worse, like pp said, getting his hopes up and making him want to be picked up but his distress is so real I can't "just leave him to cry" despite that being the advice from Mil, hv and sister so far.

Beckyp246 Wed 08-Oct-14 07:50:22

Def agree they settle better with Dads! My ds has over the 3 days of sleep training also learnt how to say 'mama' - they're no fools these babies!

Night before last settled very well, amazingly slept through until 7am. Last night settled well, woke at 3ish and self-settled, again at 5am which took dh 20 mins to settle him using gradual retreat. Slept for another 30 mins woke at 6am. At that time I'm not too fussed if we start our day so brought him into our room. However he went to sleep for another hour so maybe that wasn't right decision!

Gradual retreat def working for bedtimes, harder during the night and particularly in the later morning wakings when they're just not as sleepy. Tonight is the first night we move away from standing by cot so will be interesting to see how that goes!

NickyEds - I find MILs are very good at recommending leaving them to cry! Mine was telling me to do it at under 2 weeks. Seriously!!!!

My mum did controlled crying with me and it did me no harm (maybe matter of opinion?!) but for me personally I would rather try softer options first, especially given he is genuinely feeling insecure at the moment.

Good luck! Will keep posted on how we get on x

NickyEds Wed 08-Oct-14 08:37:58

Last night was much bettersmile. Went to bed easily at 7 then woke at 11 and 5 but went back to sleep after both with maybe 10-15 back patting. Yesterday he only had one nap-around an hour at lunch time. Anyone know when babies naturally switch to one nap?

I know about the Mil thing- homes in the late 70's early 80's must just have be the sounds of babies screaming!!

Beckyp246 Wed 08-Oct-14 17:28:25

That's great! Hope it continues for you both.

Was wondering about the one nap thing too. I'd read they drop to one between 12-18 months but recently ds has been absolute mare to get two naps. Like getting a wild cat in a bag. I do watch to try and make sure I'm not missing tired cues so don't think he's overtired...but maybe I'm misreading things!

Beckyp246 Thu 09-Oct-14 09:30:31

Just to update, last night was first night of retreating from cot, we're now in middle of room. Bedtime fine again, self settled couple of times in night then woke 5am. 10 mins to settle which is much better than recently although did only sleep another 30 mins. So day started at 6am though don't mind that really. So def success so far I'd say. Hope things are improving for everyone else too x

NickyEds Thu 09-Oct-14 12:11:07

Good to hear of a success! Another good nightsmile. He went into the cot awake at 7.15 and went to sleep by himself(!!!!)Woke up at 12.00 for a feed then back into his cot and only minimal back patting before he went back off to sleep. Woke at 5.30-more milk then slept till 8. I'm counting this as a result! Although I'm still relying on milk a lot but at least we are actually getting some sleep!

Beckyp246 Thu 09-Oct-14 13:12:04

That's great, really pleased! 8am is incredible grin

Rachel153 Fri 10-Oct-14 12:19:29

Thanks for your updates smile dh and I planning to start gradual retreat next week but in the meantime dd is responding really well to our updated bedtime and nap time routine. Which makes me wonder if we should postpone starting gradual retreat?! Dd slept all night 2 nights ago!!!! It's unheard of. And we're getting 3 naps out of her (not particularly long ones but less than a week ago we were lucky to get 2 naps). What to do?!

Beckyp246 Fri 10-Oct-14 18:07:55

I'd be tempted to keep doing what you're doing if it's working. Plenty of time to do gradual retreat if things change? Really pleased things are going well!

JessicaLuis232 Sat 03-Sep-16 08:21:54

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