16 answers

Bedtime Separation Anxiety

My 11 month old daughter has gone to sleep on her own and slept through the night most of the time since she was 3 months old. However, in the last couple of months she has developed pretty intense separation anxiety. So far we've managed it pretty successfully during the day, but bedtime remains a problem. The pediatrician tells us to let her cry, which works, but only after and hour or more of hysterical screaming. We did that for weeks, but it didn't seem to change the pattern. Lately I've started to go into the room to let her know that we haven't gone anywhere. She calms down almost instantly when I go to her. I almost never pick her up, but do rub her back and talk to her. The instant I leave, she cries again. Any advice out there?

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I wouldn't go back in. If you know she is tired, put her in there and shut the door, and say good night thru the door. What I do for my 14 month old and 3 yr old is play some white noise. I used to use the radio, but the DJ's in the morning would wake the baby at 6 am. Ugh. So I got one of those pretend aquariums at Big Lots that you can plug in and either put on the wall or put on a dresser. You can have it just as a night light or have the background noise too. My 14 month old fusses when I put him to bed but minutes later he is sound asleep.

1 mom found this helpful

my advice is to just let her cry it out and keep the door closed. this is what worked for me. maybe try putting a sound box, that plays soft sounds, that might calm her a bit faster. good luck and good night.

1 mom found this helpful

i have a 7 year old, 3 year old, and 7 month old. anytime any of them have a hard time going to sleep or wake up in the night upset they move straight into our bed. we have a full size antique iron bed that was my great grandma's so i can't part with it to get a bigger bed, so sometimes it's a little cramped for sleeping, but they need to know that we are there for them and i, personally, would NEVER shut their bedroom door and let them scream and cry. by doing this, my kids rarely come into our bed, they are secure in knowing if they needed to, they could. this is just a phase for you, i've been through it, your child is only little for a short period of time, trust me, no matter what anyone says, she will outgrow this, just give her the extra time she needs with you. it's a big, scary world out there so in your home she needs to feel safe and secure, not scared and abandoned.

Fire your pediatrician. Your child doesn't understand why it's so important for her to sleep alone - you don't, do you? Right now, she needs you. She is going through a very normal stage, and if you give her the comfort and security she needs, then when she's ready, she'll be able to separate from you. Be aware that, now, because of the fear and hysterical screaming that has already occurred, her return to a secure state of mind will probably take longer than if you'd been given permission to follow your instincts and go to her when she first needed you to. This stage will not last forever. But if, at any time your child gets more clingy, you set aside more snuggle time and give her attention, she will become MORE secure, not more dependent. By what authority do I speak, you ask? I have 4 children, including 2 teenagers (ages 16, 15, 12, and 7). They are very secure, and awesome people to be around. I invested heavily in them when they were little, and they are far less high-maintenance than other kids who were taught to be "independent" before they were ready.

Try some soft, made-for-babies, meditation music to comfort her into a restful relaxed sleep. Or there is also the music that offers nature sounds, like rain, frogs, crickets, etc. My little ones enjoyed the rain and thunderstorms cassette at bedtime. Occasionally they'd listen to the soft meditation music and relaxed instantly with this as well. I can say to this day, and they are all over 25 yrs old, they love the sound of the rain and thunderstorms!

I also sang to my babies when they were under the age of 1 to 1 1/2 yrs old. I sang and patted their tiny booties as they lay on their tummies with head turned to where they could see me standing there next to the crib. They feel of my hand on their tiny bodies, plus the sound of my voice, and just knowing I was there was comforting enough to put them to sleep. You have to have patience. If you go in a rush a little pat and then leave, they will always wake and scream again. Give them time to trust that you are protecting them. Feeling secure in your presence is not too much ask, especially when as a mom you remember they lived inside of you for 9 mths feeling completely protected and close to you.,

enjoy these moments when your little one wants to have you near. when 12 yrs of age hits, they won't want you within a 5 foot vicinity! lol...

take care,


Why fight it she is only going to be little once, snuggle her get her back to sleep go back to bed. They all almost are sleeping on their own by the age of 5 anyway. So enjoy her needing you while you can and stop fighting it. I am a mom of soon to be 4 and gave up on children sleeping throught he night a long time ago. My two oldest started to sleep all by themselves around the age of 4 now I wish I could snuggle more,lol. If hubby gets mad tell him to snuggle too he might enjoy it more than he thinks. Good luck some battles are not worth fighting..
oh ps I did try furber and any other sleep methood out there becasue i neeed sleep sooo bad nothign worked except to just let them sleep with me so we bought a biger bed,haha.

My daughter did that too. I allowed her to sleep with me (which sometimes I wish I didn't). It was hard to break. My husband worked the night shift then so it was easier. It is hard the first time listening to your child cry herself to sleep. My daughter did not want anything to sleep with like a security blanket. She is 4 now and still crys sometimes. My son however has a pillow, a blanket, and his elmo :-) to sleep with. Stay strong and stick to your routine. I have to rub my daughter's back sometimes too. Just keep loving on her while she will let you. Good Luck.

give your baby what she needs, time and you. you wan't regret it.

Hi P.,

Do you have a nightlight in her room?

Another thing my daughter used/still uses in a CD player with a timer on it and she plays very soothing music. Sometimes, even though Isabella is almost 8, we'll do the same as you...rub her back and talk softly. Sometimes kids have stress that we are unaware and at your daughter's age, they most definitely need a schedule.

Hope this helped.

God Bless,

We always let our DC come into our bed at that age. Now that my DD is married and DS is 10, I actually miss those days. They are only young once. I could not leave mine screaming either. I'm just not that kind of mom.


Just be nice to her and do not let her scream, no matter what SOME pediatricians say. I am also a doctor and my baby needs me every evening for hours but it never occured to me as physiological that I'd shut the door and let her cry alone. That would be a sort of parenting resembling the situation when she'd had no parent at all. Endurance is part of the parenting job and it is exercised even by animals which attend their offspring at all times.

I dealt with this also what has worked for me-and am currently still using with my youngest who go through jags of waking 2-3 times a week is to let her cry for 5 min. go in rub her back, talk to her, calm her down and let her know that it is time to rest and lay her down-if she's sitting or standing. Then leave the room and don't go back for 10 min, don't talk to her except that its time to rest, don't pick her up, lay her down and wait 15-20 min. etc... Mine usually fell asleep after about 12 min.-I watched the clock closesly-5 min listening to your baby crying feels like forever! It's been harder with my second, she's so sweet and just really wants to be rocked for a few minutes, but I feel I'm a better mom if well rested and teaching her to go back to sleep on her own will help with that. Don't bring her to your bed-its not safe and she may decide thats playtime!

She's the perfect age for separation anxiety. And isn't it just SO MUCH FUN?! Ack! My advice, after two kids who were never happy when mommy wasn't RIGHT BESIDE THEM EVER MOMENT OF EVERY DAY is give in for awhile. Seriously. Pet her to sleep at night. Cuddle her if she needs it. The more she is certain that you're never far away and that you really will come back, the less fuss she'll make when she leaves. Everyone said my daughter would be a totally dependent, spoiled child because she was always with me and usually in the sling. From about 15 months, she has never fussed for a moment when I've left. Her first day of Pre-K, she walked up to the teacher, said "Hi, I'm here for school." And then she waved me out of the room.

My son, who is now almost 14 months, went through it badly about 4 months ago. If he was playing with his big brother, he was happy... until he saw mama. Then it was major meltdown time. I'm happy to say he's over that (it took about a month), and I can leave him home with his daddy (and even with a sitter TWICE!) with no tears as I head out the door.

Everyone needs a little reassurance sometimes. This is the time your daughter needs it from you. The good news is that it's an age and a stage, and they grow out of both :)

Good luck!

When my daughter was that age, she was crying in her crib that she wanted her "Mahi." Thinking she was saying "Mommy," I said "Mommy's right here," but she only screamed louder. It turned out she had named her comfort blanket her "Mahi." If your daughter has something she's attached to, by all means have her sleep with it. If not, I certainly wouldn't let her cry for a long time. I'm no expert (two great older kids, though), but I'd just go up there at longer and longer intervals until she fell asleep, and remember, it's just a phase, and she'll be older soon.

The best advice you'll see on this page is the advice telling you to go to her!! She knows what she needs--you. If she's in bed crying, or even if she's in bed "screwin' around", as I say when my 7 month old son is "supposed" to be going to bed & is chattering or chewing on his hands & feet--at least baby can be doing that in your arms, and in your lap. Consistency is what they thrive on..a nice quiet place where they know Mama loves them and is there to protect them. We have a turtle that projects stars on Noah's ceiling. He & I rock while the Lullaby cd plays softly. I can only think about how fast these 7 months have already flown by, and how big he is already getting in my lap. I am happy to spend an hour soothing my baby to sleep before I finish up my busy day...after all, he did, not all that long ago, spend 9 straight months curled up VERY close to me =)

Don't let that baby cry like that. That is crazy. I know there are books out there that say it and some drs think it is ok but babies cry for a reason. This is her comunication that she needs you. You want a secure well balanced child and assurance of who they are and that they are secure in their home is the start to all of that. Good luck to you sweet girl.

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