Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Other

My 8.5 month baby won’t settle for naps away from home

My problem is a small one really compared to others, but my 8.5mth old son Ben
is a little angel when he is at home with me, a true Gina baby from day one,
goes to sleep by himself, no help from me, laughing and giggling all day, plays
by himself when I have to do the housework, totally content, loves meeting new
people, etc. My problem arose when I had to go back to work. My mother-in-law kindly offered to look after him for me. As she used to run a creche for 20 yrs I thought this would be fantastic for him, especially as she also looks after Ben’s cousin who is 2yrs. The only problem is he won’t go down for his daytime naps at her house. As soon as she takes him into the bedroom and the travel cot which he sleeps in, he screams and gets very upset. He doesn’t sleep in the same room as his cousin in case he wakes up. She has tried controlled crying but with no change. As soon as she takes him out of the room he is fine though – smiles, wants to play etc. I wrote down in minute detail how I put him to bed (look out of the window with him for 10 mins, talking in whispers, put him in his sleeping bag, draw the blinds, kiss him goodnight, leave the room promptly etc) but he still screams.
The only blessing is that he has always slept through the night twelve/thirteen hrs for me, even with no daytime sleep, but it worries me that he isn’t getting enough sleep with her on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. With me for the rest of the week he is an angel and sticks to Gina’s routine to the letter. I have to go back to full time work soon though and am panicking in case he starts to get ill from lack of sleep or wakes in the night. I have always taken his cot toys, black out blinds, lullaby lights, sleeping bag and sheets (unwashed) so it smells familiar, thinking this might be the problem but to no avail. I have even tried to get him to sleep there myself, thinking it would just take a “mother’s touch”, how wrong was I? She says he seems to sleep better downstairs with them, in the light, in his car seat, but isn’t this creating bad sleeping patterns? Or am I overreacting?
Yours hopefully

Until your son becomes more used to being at his grandmother’s house I suggest he sleeps downstairs with her. As he sleeps so well at home, he will not get into bad sleeping habits, he just needs to learn to fall asleep elsewhere. Once he is more used to his carer and her house he will probably accept going up for a nap. At this age babies are very aware of change and who is their main carer. I feel someone with your mother-in–law’s experience will treat his needs sympathetically and try him upstairs in a few weeks’ time.

Perhaps she could allow him short spells of playing in the cot he will sleep in, during the day. If she stays with him and gives him some toys to occupy himself with, he will become used to a new cot. When he is happy playing, she could begin to leave the room for a few minutes and then return. Once he feels familiar with his surroundings and carer he will probably be happier to sleep there. With a familiar toy from home and his sleeping bag, he should be content.

When he is at home with you, possibly at weekends I suggest you sometimes take him out in his stroller at a nap time so he gets used to not always sleeping in his cot in a dark room.