How do I help when she cries and screams at bedtime?
It can be incredibly hard to hear your little one cry or scream at bedtime. Think about whether or not this is a new thing for your little one. If it is a sudden change, be sure to check with her health care provider since something could be physically bothering her – such as an ear infection, reflux, or teething – and disrupting her sleep. If this is not a sudden change, think about what your baby needs to fall asleep at bedtime. If she needs you to hold her, for instance, then she probably needs that to return to sleep after she wakes naturally during the night (which all babies do). So, if it is your goal to help her learn to fall asleep on her own at bedtime and put herself back to sleep during the night, what you can do to manage the crying is to gradually reduce your presence at bedtime.
Start out gradually and slowly. If you are rocking your baby to sleep, simply hold her without rocking instead. For the next few nights, you can put her into the crib awake and put your hand on her belly. Then, for next several nights, try a checking method. Put her in her crib, leave the room, then come back in as frequently as you would like (even 30 seconds later!) to check on her. It’s important, though, to pay attention to how your baby responds when you check on her. Some babies calm down when you check on them but others get much more upset. Go at your own pace to gradually increase the amount of time you are outside of the room between checks. Eventually, she will get the hang of falling asleep on her own at bedtime. This is a skill that typically generalizes overnight, helping her to sleep for longer and longer stretches.About Dr. Ariel Williamson