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Sleeping during the attachment phase

(4 Posts)
Wellthen Tue 18-Apr-17 17:22:50

Just looking for reassurance really sad

DD is 9 months. We've been very lucky with her sleep so far - she seemed to be born with quite good habits! As a tiny baby she would drop off when held and this gradually transitioned to being put down awake with a dummy. We phased out the dummy from about 4 months and at night and for most daytime naps she would self settle with one of those teddies with a blanket and some white noise.

But recently this has all gone to pot. Its hard to pin point when it stated as she had a bad (as in long not serious) bout of illness and teething through the whole of Feb. But shes become impossible to put down in her cot. She is put down calm with all her cues but as soon as we leave the room she cries - real cries, not just the tired fussing I would expect.

Over the last couple of weeks its just got worse and worse. At the start we could usually calm her down and we have been giving her the dummy but now even with the dummy she just will not be left. The only thing that is fairly certain to work is feeding her to sleep. I really dont want to get into this habit as a) we have avoided it for 9 months! b) There will be times when other people need to get her to sleep, not least my Mum when I go back to work and c) its surely the worst way to deal with separation anxiety as she falls alseep in my arms and then when she wakes I'm not there

Most of the advice on the internet is centred around either sleep training (Im not against the more gentle methods but the tentative tries I have given them seem to just make it worse and I dont feel entirely comfortable) or supporting babies to self settle which we already know she can do. In the last few weeks there have been periods of sleep where she has self settled so we know those skills havent gone. I'm fairly certain the entire issue is around her not wanting us to leave.

I have always tried to help her with separation - when I leave the room I tell her Im going and that I'll come back. Then when I return I make sure she notices. She doesnt cry when I leave the room and will play independently for ages. Its just sleeping that is causing the problems.

Is the only option left to stay in the room until she drops off? She has always preferred to sleep in a quiet room by herself (or with us sleeping obviously before 6 months) so I worry that our presence will stimulate her and the dropping off could take hours!

When this passes will she go back to knowing how to sleep properly?

She is the happiest, most curious and delightful baby when awake but my days are currently punctuated by soul destroying attempts at getting her to nap (nice calm build up to nap, telling her whats going to happen next, making sure she's recently fed, etc) and her just fussing endlessly, bumbling around her cot and inevitably getting stuck or crying inconsolably.

Brokejoke Tue 18-Apr-17 17:35:47

I can't advise on the sleeping stuff as my dd was a nightmare but with the separation thing, I don't think you need to worry too much about your mum looking after her when you go back to work. Ime, babies are often quite different when the mum isn't around and she may just go to sleep as she used to for your mum. Maybe you could do a trial where you go out for the day and leave her with your mum and see how things get on?

I don't think my dd really went through the separation anxiety thing as such, but I remember reading that things like playing peekaboo can help. Maybe when she is awake and happy you could try that, and other games to get her used to not seeing you and then seeing you come back.

Do you think there could be any other causes? Teething always made my dd sleep much worse. Also now your dd is older and presumably more active maybe she needs to nap slightly earlier than you're used to?

FATEdestiny Tue 18-Apr-17 19:32:10

My opinion is that you make the child feel as safe and secure as possible at sleep time. Then over time reduce the amount of comfort baby needs from yoy in order to feel safe and secure.

So that means starting in her room, staying until asleep.

Maybe you start leaning into the cot, firm hand on chest until asleep.

Then leaning into the cot, firm hand on chest while unsettled, remove hand when settled. Return hand if unsettled. Repeat until asleep.

Then leaning into the cot, firm hand on chest until initially settled, turn away from cot when calm. Firm hand if unsettled, turn away when calm.

Then settle initially, wait by doorway. Return if needed, withdraw when calm.

Then settle and wait by doorway for a few minutes, leave and come back several times. Stay if upset, "pop" to do something if calm.

The idea is to take backwards steps (so give extra reassurance) whoever needed. But always with a view to withdrawing when calm. The level of withdrawal depends on how secure baby feels and will change and go up and down, depending ob several factors.

Wellthen Tue 18-Apr-17 19:44:14

Thanks for the replies.
fate I think you're right and my behaviour has been too disorganised for her to feel secure - sometimes leaving her, sometimes not. I've never left her to cry for more than a couple of minutes but it makes me really sad to feel that I've not given gradual withdrawal a good enough go.

DH did bedtime tonight and effectively did gradual withdrawal (although I doubt he's heard of it!) and she went down with a dummy but without needing to feed to sleep.

Feeling relieved as naps were so bad today I genuinely didn't know how to get her to sleep beyond letting her exhaust herself.

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