Separation Anxiety and Co-sleeping

Max is now 8 months old and has started to develop some separation anxiety.  All babies will have separation anxiety between the ages of six to eighteen months, it is a normal healthy development. Ally had a severe stranger and separation anxiety, she would burst into tears if a stranger even looked at her. This made going out a bit embarrassing and it lasted for over a year. I was told that I had spoiled her, I cuddled her too much, carried her too often. Now, I know better. Nothing I did made her clingy, it was just part of her normal development. If you see her now, she’s one of the most sociable talkative toddlers around.

Max on the other hand only seems to get anxious at bedtimes. He used to fuss a little and settle down to sleep on his own. Now he starts his “don’t leave me” cry the minute I pull up the cot rails. Usually it doesn’t last more than three minutes but some days he gets quite hysterical and I have to go in and comfort him. I don’t let him cry for more than five-minutes and if he starts sounding really upset, I go straight in. There isn’t any hard and fast rule about it, more of an instinct. It gets very tiring and stressful when your baby only wants YOU.  But take heart that it’s just a phase that would eventually pass.

With Ally we let her co-sleep with us for about nine months. It was the only way that anyone could get any sleep. Lots of people didn’t agree with what we did but it worked for our family. Letting her cry it out seemed cruel, waking up numerous times at night was affecting both her and myself. Many people told us ” it’ll become a habit and she won’t want to sleep on her own.” Slowly and patiently we transitioned her back into her own bed and today, she’ll happily climb into her big girl bed and fall asleep independently. If the situation worsens with Max, we’ll likely to co-sleep with him as well. The only time I would be cautious about co-sleeping is with a newborn. I never trusted myself to not roll over or cover my babies so they either slept beside our bed in a pack and play or in a separate little sleeper placed on our bed.

Max in a sleeper unit, 10 days old and looking a bit jaundiced

If you are thinking of giving co-sleeping a try, here are some guidelines to keeping your child safe.

  • make sure sheets are fitted and cannot be pulled loose
  • check to make sure there are no gaps between mattress and wall/furniture where baby can get stuck
  • an infant should be placed between mother and a guard rail/wall,not between 2 adults
  • do not sleep with your baby if you have been drinking alcohol
  • remove all pillows and blankets when sleeping with infants
  • never leave baby unattended on an adult bed

The list is by no means exhaustive, to be really safe, consider using an arms reach co-sleeper. We borrowed one from our friend when Max came along and it was a life saver. Baby is right by your side, yet safe in his own little crib. The side drops down so it makes it easy to reassure baby and not disturb your own sleep too much.


Filed under Random Musings

2 responses to “Separation Anxiety and Co-sleeping

  1. becca

    How’d you work on transiting kids from cosleeping to beds? And at what age?

    • We moved Ally to her own room at 9 months. My husband would put her to bed, stay with her for 5 minutes then walk out. The next night he would stay with her for 3 minutes and eventually he could put her down and just leave the room. It took a few weeks to get her to sleep in her own bed. When Max came along the transition was easier simply because he had Ally for company. we moved Max in with her when he was around 9 months old as well

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