Not in her own bed!

by Janet - Answer by Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Question: My 9 month old grandaughter does not sleep in her cot. Up until 6 months of age she was great at going to sleep in her cot. Then in January after my daughter had some visitors including three children to stay she became very difficult at bedtime. My daughter tried controlled crying and that just seems to have made Lily worse. Now she will not go in her cot, plays up at bedtime ie getting changed for bed and sleeps with my daughter. She wakes several times in the night but usually goes back to sleep immediately. She usually has between 7-9 hours sleep on a good night and a nap during the day.My daughter has become very tired with this bedtime routine and really does not know how to resolve it.Lily is a very bright, alert child and seems to have boundless energy. I do hope you can help.

Heidi's Answer: Dear Janet,

If during the other children s visit Lily slept in her parents bed that may have caused her to get used to that. Or, her bedtimes may have changed with the visitors around and that may have triggered the change in her sleeping.

But it can also be coincidence and just due to her developing sleep patterns.

I m thinking of a number of causes, one being separation anxiety. Please read my article on baby separation anxiety and let me know if you recognise some of the signs.

It could explain the sleep troubles as you describe them. The controlled crying may indeed have made it worse as it does not give her the extra reassurance she needs now.

She may also be teething, have you noticed any signs of teething?

From here, the first thing I d suggest is for your daughter to decide where Lily will sleep. I do think from your message that she wants her to sleep in her own crib, but if she is inclined and is ok with cosleeping it is also possible to have her sleep well then, without waking often in the night (and then that waking will be the point to work on, same as when sleeping in her own crib).

Either way, it must be clear for a baby where she sleeps so as a parent you will want to be consistent about it.

So that is the first step: choose a sleep place and stick to it. After that, if she plays up, it is ok to help her with soothing and stay with her for now, but do not keep changing room/bed as an option.

For the awakenings then, it would be best if you told me what happens when she wakes: does she fuss, cry, want a drink or feeding, how does she go back to sleep? That will help to set up a plan.

Something that can also play is that she may be overtired by the time she goes to bed at night. If she is very sleepy, or in contrast even over-active, it may be good to give her an earlier bedtime (unexpectedly this very often gives better/longer nigths rather than shorter ones).

Does she have a regular sleep schedule? And a bedtime routine?

Let me know how all the above sounds. With some of this extra info from you, I can advise further then.

Kind regards,

FOLLOW-UP POST: Not in her own bed! (follow-up)

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