Saturday, September 15, 2012

Maintaining good sleep habits

Even if your baby takes readily to drifting off to sleep on her own, your troubles may not be over. At some point between seven and nine months, she may suddenly begin to protest with anguished cries your departure from her room each night. Her panic is a sign of separation anxiety, which emerges at about this time in a child’s life. She has become strongly attached to you and does not yet understand that when someone disappears from view, that person continues to exist and will return. She is afraid you are going away forever.
Soon after this time, the baby’s drive to master body skills such as walking becomes so intense that she often finds it difficult to unwind for sleep. You may discover her in the middle of the night crawling around in her crib or pulling herself up to a standing position, as though her drive to practice her skills outweighed her heed for sleep.
Help your baby find her own methods for soothing herself to sleep, while reassuring her that you are not abandoning her. One way to accomplish this double purpose is to casually leave and reenter the room several times after she has been put to bed, making reassuring sounds but concerning yourself with some other bit of business rather than hovering over your protesting child. Presents sometimes interfere too much at bedtime, when their babies really just need a chance to complain a little before setting down to some humming or jabbering and then to sleep. Small gestures can help ease a baby’s resistance to sleep. Let your child have a favorite toy or blanket for comfort when you leave the room. A night light that allows her to see her familiar surroundings when she awakens at night might also help.