The 1 Year Resurgence of Separation Anxiety
Updated: Jun 1
This month, my sweet little Finny Boo turned 1. He had some birthday cake, received a mountain of presents unwrapped by his helpful big sister, and started being extra clingy to his number one - MAMA. Finny and I spend a lot of time together, and he is a very cuddly boy in general. But once it’s time to go in the crib, he is calm and happy to roll around, get comfy, and fall into a deep restorative snooze.
Not so true these days. He has been enjoying his sleep routines as much as ever, but the moment I begin to lower him into his crib, he starts to cry and reaches his arms out to me. This is unlike my super sleeper, so the first couple of times this happened I picked him right back up and snuggled him calm. But we all know where this is going. Once he was calm I put him back down and again - tears! This little boy did not want to separate from his mom. Can anyone relate?
This is normal. Like many crib sleeping babies, Finn can’t fall asleep in mama’s arms, or anywhere else that limits his ability to stretch out and find a comfy position. This means that I had to take a deep breath, demonstrate calm and confidence, and leave the room holding my lovingly firm sleep boundaries. I often set the timer in these situations because every minute is so uncomfortable that it helps me to see that it is really quite a quick process before he is butt up and soundly asleep.
A resurgence of separation anxiety is super common for one year olds. They are starting to learn that they are separate from their grownups, and while that leads to a lot of other exciting discoveries, it can also feel scary. It helps to stay consistent with routines so they know exactly what to expect from their grownups in this sorta scary world, and to offer sleep at the right times in the right place so they get the deep restorative zzz’s their brains need as they continue to grow and develop.
This is a phase that will end soon. Temporary sleep struggles are normal for all children, even those with a strong foundation of healthy sleep habits. To keep the struggles brief, the best thing is to stay consistent with setting them up for sleep success in all of the ways biology, research, and experience tell us, and then to follow through with those lovingly firm boundaries.