Separation Anxiety Causing Sleep Issues in 9 Month Old...?

Updated on November 28, 2008
T.R. asks from Brentwood, TN
8 answers

My 9 month old daughter used to be a good napper and woke once during the night to eat. This ended about a month ago. Everytime we put her in her crib she goes into hysterics. She used to cry for about 5 mintues then fall asleep. Now she'll cry for an hour! We have tried giving her a lovey but that's not helping. We've taken her to the Dr. multiple times and she doesn't have an ear infection. She's teething but we give her Motrin and teething tablets so she shouldn't be in pain. So the only thing we think it can be is separation anxiety. I don't know what to do. It's heart breaking to listen to your child cry for a hour. Sometimes we give us after 20 minutes and rock her back to sleep or let her nap on us but we know that's not a good habit to get into. I honestly don't know what to do at this point...any advice is much appreciated. I own the main 3 sleeping books and have read and tried all of them to a degree. Do we just let her cry (going in to reassure her every ~15 minutes) until we get out of this phase? She desperately needs her naps and to sleep well at night but it's just not happening...

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answers from Salt Lake City on

I would go ahead and rock her to sleep. I know many people talk about how important it is for your child to learn to go to sleep on her own. But I think it's more important for her to know that mommy and daddy are there and a safe person, and comes when they're needed. There's plenty of time for her to learn to go to sleep on her own later.

I roked my babies to sleep/nursed them to sleep. And, yes, there were some bedtime battles when they were toddlers. But I don't think that you're going to completely escape that anyway. But now, they're 5, 7, and 10 and they go to bed all by themselves just fine. Sometimes they even decide on their own that it's bedtime. I even miss rocking them to sleep sometimes. They grow up so fast! Enjoy the cuddle time with your little one as long as she needs it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Hi T.,
trust your gut!! Does this also happen at daycare?? I have 4 kids and all of then slept well without me until my 4 th . He decided that he would rather fall asleep in a swing chair in the living room. So he was content. Now that he is 4 he sleeps in his own room/ bed and there is that occasional waking and sleeping in our bed. I say it is a phase, and you are right if it continues too long it will make a bigger problem. Try using a bouncy seat and let her fall asleep closeer too you and it may resolve the problem.... Mothering is a guessing game and we all try things and listen to advice...... But know that it is all ok and your baby loves you no matter what. Good luck and god bless..



answers from Boise on

My 9 month old son is doing the exact same thing, but he is crying for two hours. It is so hard to handle. I was in tears last time he was doing it. It makes you feel helpless. Our son is teething also. Nothing works for him, I try to nurse him, rocking never works because he just arches his back and cries, I try to sleep with him. Nothing. He just screams and cries. Then after two hours he wants to nurse and then he goes to sleep.
However, it has been almost 4 days since his last one and what we were thinking, and it has worked so far is, he has been waking up cold. So we have been putting a heater in his room. So as long as he stays warm he will sleep though the night.I will be reading your responses to see if there is any other advice.



answers from Denver on

HUGS! I know it stinks to hear your baby cry or be upset. I don't think there is any magic book for these phases and you are probably right it is a phase. Remember motrin takes a good 30 minutes to kick in and if she is all worked up with pain then that may be why it takes so long to get her settled back in. Try giving her the motrin 30 minutes at least before you plan to lay her down.

Since you have realized she is teething, have her checked for reflux as well, which can burn when laying down. A lot of children have this. A easy prescription can remedy it until she outgrows it. My daughter had it young, early on, thought it was colic and turned out to be reflux. She outgrew it within months.

I wouldn't pick her up but do go in and rub her back, try and settle her back in and there is nothing wrong with letting her know you are there. Try a voice activated music box. That is still a huge hit in my house. It goes off with any noise and winds down in five minutes playing a sweet lullaby.
With both of my kids I would rub their backs, turn off the lights and sit there with the music box on and get them to lay down and would walk away.

If they woke or fussed or cried the music box starts back up. It has a switch on it for ocean waves too or even a nightlight mode that kicks on. Sometimes it worked sometimes it didn't. White noise has always helped my kids get calm and sleep better though.

She needs naps/good sleep at night for health as well as growth. I would lay her down and not go back until 15 minutes, then rub her back, whisper it is time for rest and walk away. You may have to continue this. It could be seperation anxiety, which is typically short lived but it could be reflux as well.

Rocking her or falling asleep on you is great, for now but will lead to unhealthy habits that you will have a LONG time to break. Go to her if you can without picking her up. Whisper, sing and rub her back and try to settle her down.
I didn't ever have to do crying it out for long with either of my children thankfully, but I did at least wait 15 minutes before I went to them. Even a fan in her room for white noise can help. Black out shades to keep her room dark at naptimes can help.



answers from Pocatello on

I think you've got the right approach. It's what we did when our first did this. Our second never did, much better sleeper, thank goodness. It took a long time to get out of the phase though. I was exhausted. But I know he knows I love him, and he's fine now. Good luck!



answers from Denver on

S. here, Luke seems to have trouble napping at his daycare lady sometimes too. I still go in at night and nurse him back to sleep, last night he was up twice. It should pass, I know it is hard and awful to hear her cry. I say do what works for you, whatever you can to get her to sleep. One thing that helps Luke is the sounds from the happiest baby on the block and also he has a larger bear that he sleeps with it and holds onto at night.

I hope this is short lived for you all and you can get some sleep soon, one last idea is anything she may look at to calm her down, this sounds crazy but Luke loves to look at our lava lamp, so we put it in his room. When i get desperate, I turn it on and rock with him until he falls asleep!



answers from Denver on

When my now 25 year old was this age, we had the same problem. The advice I got at the time was to let him cry and he would go to sleep. This did not work. What did work was to have a night time routine. We would get him ready, I would read a book, nurse him, put him in the crib, and sing to him, patting him on the back. I would leave when he was settled, when he would start crying again, I would go in and leaving him in the crib, pat him, sing to him, work to soothe him, saying it was time to sleep. Then I might sit in the rocking chair beside the crib. Each time I would lengthen the time before going in the room.

This did work. It took about 2 weeks for him to calm down and accept going to sleep without the crying. I've since read about teaching your child to "self comfort", and I think this was a first step toward that for a very sensitive child.

I think he needed to learn that I would come when he was distressed and that his crib was for sleeping, and that he was okay sleeping there. The first 3 days were the hardest, but I found that if I was calm and comforting without picking him up that it worked. Good luck.

By the way, he's a very sensitive, very intelligent, kind young man. This intensity your baby has can be part of some very special traits.



answers from Flagstaff on

I personally am not a fan of crying it out. Part of that is from reading The Science of Parenting that says that stress hormones are still high even after they fall asleep, meaning they aren't "learning" anything, they are just giving up. They haven't proven it, but the authors feel that this happening often could cause long-term effects. However, sometimes I could see that it's worth that risk. I have heard from other moms that if you do "give in," your baby won't automatically go back to the old way once this separation anxiety is passed. It will take a little work to get it back to that point but it would be possible.