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Q&A: Night separation anxiety?

My seven-month-old, who used to sleep through the night, has begun waking several times and crying for more than an hour. When I go in there, all I have to do is rub his back for a minute and he falls back to sleep for a few more hours. What should I do?

Re: My seven-month-old, who used to sleep through the night, has begun waking several times and crying for more than an hour. When I go in there, all I have to do is rub his back for a minute and he falls back to sleep for a few more hours. What should I do?

The Bump Expert

It sounds like your baby may be experiencing the beginning of separation anxiety, Some parents are frustrated when this stage happens, but it's completely normal and truly a wonderful milestone in your baby's development. Separation anxiety means your baby has the cognitive ability to understand that you exist, even when he can't see you.

Your baby will eventually become more comfortable with his newfound awareness. In the meantime, here are some ways you can teach him that when mommy leaves, she always comes back -- whether it's daytime or nighttime.

First, give your baby opportunities to practice separating from you during the day. Start with playing extended versions of peek-a-boo with him. Disappear from his sight for a few seconds and then reemerge. Gradually extend the time you disappear to 30 seconds, and then a minute or more.

Second, if you rarely separate from your baby, start making it part of your weekly routine. This will be helpful even if it's only for an hour or so. Pick a consistent time each week and make sure your child sees you getting ready to leave your home. He may protest at first, but resist the temptation to sneak out. In fact, involve him in the process of leaving. As you put on your coat, be upbeat and say something like, "Mommy is leaving but she'll be back soon!"

Plus, More from The Bump:

Tricky Ways to Help Baby Sleep

Worst Baby Sleep Advice Ever

Why Babies Cry (and How to Soothe Them)

sleep experts conner herman and kira ryan Conner Herman and Kira Ryan, cofounders of Dream Team Baby

Q&A: Night separation anxiety?

My six month old and I are dealing with this right now!!

carladh62 |

Q&A: Night separation anxiety?

my almost 10 mo dd is going through this now. I work full time outside of the home, so I'm thinking it's that her trouble with sleeping through the night is due to wanting to spend as much time with me when I'm home because she knows in the morning I'll be leaving. I hate it and I'm hoping it will get easier with time.

shellyb1875 |

Q&A: Night separation anxiety?

I feel your pain or what you're going through. My dtg is almost 4 months and still not sleeping throughout the night, we had a brief moment of all night sleep for about 2-3 weeks. But here lately we're back up to the every two hour feedings and fussiness, also wanting to play or be awake at around 5am. Any suggestions?

angelebr |

Q&A: Night separation anxiety?

i dont have the night time i have it through the day, i cant even turn my back to my son without him going crazy, i try the peek a boo - its a hit and miss i try a distract him with toys an books again its a hit and miss but he will scream the house down for no reason but to scream :(

annie176 |

Q&A: Night separation anxiety?

My son jus turned a year old last week and his separation anxiety kicked in right around that time. I put him to bed and he wakes up 45 minutes later crying, completely coming unglued. Then when I finally do get him back to sleep he waked up again at 1 am and won't go back to sleep until 3 am. This makes it a little rough because I get up for work at 4:50 am. I hope this passes sooner than later, I need my sleep.

njohnson1stbaby |