Screaming at Bedtime 17 Months Separation Anxiety?

Updated on June 16, 2008
T.M. asks from Collegeville, PA
5 answers

My 17 month old has always been a great sleeper. He is the easiest kid, always happy and putters around without much attention (unlike my 4 year-old girl). This past weekend we were away and all in the same room and since we've come home he screams hysterically at nap and bedtime. I think he's going through major separation anxiety. I've tried to let him cry it out going in to pat/reassure him. He stops immediately but as soon as I leave does it all over again. Yesterday after two hours of screaming at nap I rocked him and he fell asleep and put him to bed. Last night he screamed but I refused to pick him up but checked him every so often and after almost 2 hours finally fell asleep. Don't know what to do since he's always been my easy one usually just drop him in and leave without a peep. Does anyone think something else could be wrong? sick? I'm all for crying it out but this is crazy. Separation anxiety? What to do. He's becoming my demanding daughter! help. Thanks for any advice.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

My little guy is fifteen months old, and this same exact thing has been going on for a while. Also, at this age, they hate to stop what they are doing, even if they are tired, because they are learning so much, just got a bit of a taste of some control over their bodies and they don't want to quit. He is also in need of having either myself or my husband within view or reach at all times.

I think you are right on with your assessment of the situation, and right on track with what you are doing, and it will pass. With mine, as long as I manage to sneak out without him seeing me leave, it's all good. I'll hear him right after I get out the door, and he'll just whine once and go back to sleep. If he "catches" me, though, I usually have to pat him a bit more, then try to sneak out again, or he wakes himself all back up again by standing up and crying. I know where all the creaking floor boards are in the room, and it's an art to get out.

That being said, at the same time, when my little guy has an ear infection, putting him down to sleep is hard because the prone position increases pain. Is he eating? Ran a fever recently? Pulling at his ears or real crabby at any other time? They should come with more instructions. Some kids don't give much in the way of outward signs that they have an infection.

So hard to know what to do sometimes, isn't it?



answers from York on

I just watched this exact issue on the TV show 'Nanny 911'. They were able to nip this problem in less than a week. This was their solution... maybe it will work for your little one.

When you put him down to bed, sit in a chair far enough away that he knows you're there, but you're not right beside him. Begin to read him a bedtime story. When finished with the story, leave the room. He may already be sleeping, but if not, may be tired enough that he won't cause a fuss.

Hope this helps!



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi T.- First I am thinking of you because this is tough and pulls at your heart. Here are some things that helped us- hope it works for you. Make sure you have ruled out any medical- ear infection, teeth, etc. At this age, they understand a little more so you can talk about the nap/bedtime routine throughout the day and a little before. I tell my son that he needs his rest and when he gets his nap or good night sleep, he will be able to play (with something fun of his in the AM or something at daycare they like) -then make sure you follow through that next morning.
With the separation, the modernized Ferber worked good with our son although it does take some time to kick in. When you leave let him cry 10 minutes, then go back in, reassure and pat him-don't pick up or turn light on and then leave after a minute, then repeat after 15 minutes, 30 minutes. Good Luck!


answers from Allentown on

Hi, T. -
I can understand what you're going thru. We have 1 daughter, 16 mos. old, and she does the separation anxiety thing, too. It's just normal with toddler development ( As much as it's not fun to hear your son cry it out at naptime/bedtime, all you can do is just let him cry it out, especially if you KNOW the following:
- dry diaper
- no fever/vomiting/cold/teething, etc.
- he's safe

Our daughter has pulled the crying for no reason, no matter HOW tired she really is. Besides, if anything, she wares herself out from the crying, anyway. I also feel for you since he's your "easy" child.

I hope that my advice along with the what to expect website to help you, too. Good luck!



answers from Pittsburgh on

Do you think it could be teeth or an ear infection?

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