Any sanity-preserving advice for meI'm a single mom whose 7-month-old will only sleep when I'm close by?
We like to think of bedtime as a peaceful time and sleep as a refreshing rest. In reality, however, bedtime for many infant
s, children, and their parents is a stressful occasion, as your situation must be. It would be helpful to know what the sleeping arrangements are in your home, such as whether your son has his own room, and what remedies you have tried to encourage longer sleep periods. Also, if your baby
has not had a recent physical exam by your health care provider, I would recommend one just to make sure there's not a medical reason for his long periods of crying.
I can certainly appreciate that as a single parent you probably do whatever you can for both of you to get the most sleep. That's understandable, and is in fact what many parents do. Your son may be expressing feelings of separation anxiety, which are more common after 6 months of age. As his development progresses and allows him to move away from you by rolling over and trying to crawl, he needs to check back with you frequently to make sure you're there. And since nighttime is usually a period of separation, infant
s often display their displeasure then.
Sleep experts recommend following a consistent schedule and a calm, orderly routine for bedtime and awakening. The routine might include a bath, changing into bedtime clothes, cuddling for a few minutes while looking through a book or listening to soft music, and then putting him into his own bed while he's drowsy but still awake. You might put a small teddy bear in bed with him; if he sucks his thumb or wants a pacifier to comfort him, that's fine too. Leave a night-light on or leave the door to his room open slightly so the light shines in, as he may feel more fearful when his room is completely dark. Say good night, leave the room, and give him time to settle. If he continues to cry, return at increasingly longer intervals (5 to 10 minutes) to pat him gently and soothe him with your voice, but try not to pick him up. This will be a learning process and won't change overnight, but if you can be consistent, it most often works.
Do take breaks when you can. Parenting
is a challenging, full-time job. Good luck, and if things are not improving after trying these suggestions, be sure to discuss the situation with your baby's health care provider.