Can Separation Anxiety Interfere With Sleep Coaching?

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  • February 11, 2014

 

Would you like me to answer your baby sleep problem in my next video? If so, scroll down and submit your question in the comment section below. I will pick several questions a month to answer and post them here on the blog!

 

Hi, I’m Kim West, the Sleep Lady and in today’s video blog, I’m going to answer Ali’s question:

“Hi there. I have twin 1 year olds. One of which I’d been using the Sleep Lady Shuffle on for about to 3 to 4 weeks now. He was sleeping through and self-settling well until the period of teething that lasted about 2 months which left me walking in to sleep every night hence the need to start the shuffle with tools sitting outside his door and using verbal cues at the moment. About 50% of the time this works. The other 50% of the time, we need to go in there and calm him down as he escalates.

“So, I want to ask what can we do. My husband and I both agree we should be able to close the door by now. I think he’s been going through separation anxiety probably so we have to be patient. I just feel like it’s only a matter of time before he’ll be teething again. Sigh. Thanks in advance for your help.”

Thank you so much for sending me this question! This is a common problem, believe it or not. I think that people start the Sleep Lady Shuffle and then get stuck but don’t know why. Usually they think it’s the method and they’re not sure what to tweak and change to get back on track.

 

Examine Common Issues

 

1. How is he napping?

As you know it’s super important that he gets about 2 1/2 hours total, which is about two naps at this point.

2. Is his bedtime at a good time?

3. Are you doing what I like to call “sealing the deal”?

When you were sitting next to the crib, are offering physical and verbal reassurance? Maybe there is something you did to sort of finish it off and help him make that last step in going to sleep.

When you move your chair to the door you will find that you have to get up frequently and go to the crib side in order to touch or pat to sleep. Then finally, you’re in the hall and you’re not going in as much but you are shushing him to sleep for example. It’s so subtle, but you want to look at whether you have been doing anything to reinforce his waking and helping him go to sleep. This may be why he is crying more now that you are leaving and not as available to help him go to sleep.

 

Are You Helping Him To Sleep?

 

Here is an example of how subtle this can be. I worked with parents of a similar age child (a couple of months older), who were putting her to bed awake and things were going well. She was at the point in the Shuffle where mom or dad were sitting in the hallway in view. The mom said to me, “ I always go in just at the end and I just pat her bottom real quickly.” To which I asked, “ How long are you patting her bottom?”

She said, “Oh, like less than 30 seconds, Kim. Its no big deal and she just goes to sleep. She’s pretty much sleeping through the night with a little bit of early rising issues.”

2 naps to 1I kept telling her, “I want you to be careful. I’m really worried about that patting” And she assured me that it was not a problem and then about 2 days later, she had to work late and her husband handled bedtime. He put the child in to the crib and sat in the position out in the hallway view and she cried for about an hour until the mom came home from her meeting. At that point, mom immediately went in, did the 30-second pat and she went right to sleep.

The next morning the mom called me and said, “Oh, my gosh, Kim. You are right. My patting her bottom was sealing the deal.” We had to redo the Shuffle and no longer do the final patting. I wanted to share that example with you because that was a learning experience for all of us. I learned how just the smallest thing can become an issue.

Please look back on the last few days that you’ve been sleep coaching your child and see if there’s anything you’ve been doing that perhaps is “sealing the deal” that he is crying for.

I hope that helps.

Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you have experienced a baby who is too drowsy, please share your experience below. Please click the “reply” link under this article and leave this mom a comment. Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!

Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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