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18 month old trouble sleeping and possible separation anxiety.

our 18 month old was a pretty good sleeper and would normally sleep 7pm-5am or 6am if we were lucky. Over the last couple of weeks he cry's and works himself up everytime we put him to bed. We have had a consistent daytime and bedtime routine for most of his life. He woke at midnight last night and kept calling out for me. I stayed with him for 20 minutes and got him back to sleep but this only lasted for 15 minutes before he woke again. Dad then went to settle him but after an hour he was still not sleeping so he came into our bed and went to sleep. We dont really want to get into the habit of staying with him and stroking him to sleep or for him to come in our bed all of the time as these will then be other issues we will have to deal with. We keep trying to reassure him that we are just outside the door. I am a stay at home mum and so am with our son for most of the day. He does go to daycare but only for a few hours a week. Dad is busy working but always does bath-time, stories and puts him to bed. Any advice would be most grateful as to how we can get him to sleep better and to get over the separation anxiety.

Jane ...
Answer: Hi, It sounds like you have a lovely family and secure home for your boy. So when sleep issues which you're experiencing emerge it's hard to pinpoint what could have caused them. In the absence of anything big or changes going on in his life it's reasonable to just assume it's due to his developmental age and stage. There may not be a single reason at all. But how you manage this is important and as you've identified, if you allow him into bed with you then he will learn to rely on your presence to resettle. It's reasonable to be reassuring and go to him but in his room and persuade him to stay in his bed and to go back to sleep. The camping out method is good as is reassuring him that you're just outside the door. At 18 months he's still little and needs lots of reassurance from you but be careful you don't give him too much as he'll learn to rely on this as well. Try not to stroke him to sleep but tell him what you'd like him to do eg "Lie down, put your head on your pillow, go to sleep" or something similar so he's clear what you want him to do. Be patient and kind, reassuring but firm. He'll eventually learn that all is well and there's really no point in protesting too much because you and his dad are going to respond in the same way each and every time. Check the Huggies site information on toddler sleep and "camping out". Best Jane
Answered: 08 Jun 2015