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When I put my grandaughter (11 mos) down for a nap, she normally fusses a bit and then goes to sleep. I cover her up totally with her blankie because, if she sees me or someone else leave the room, she'll start crying, although this does not last long and she normally falls asleep quickly. Today, my son-in-law was over when I put her down for a nap. Unfortunately, she picked this time to cry when she saw her mother leaving the room. My son-in-law got all upset saying that he shouldn't have to hear his baby crying. He carries her everywhere and does not like to hear her fuss much less cry. According to him, she has to be tended to every minute and to allow her free time to play is to neglect her. Needless to say, he left angry and I'm not sure how to manage this when he returns. Is he being unrealistic to think that his daughter should never cry? Or am I being a bad grandparent by letting my grandaughter fuss or cry a bit before taking a nap. I only put her down for a nap when she is obviously fussy and nothing is holding her interest. Also, if she cries for an extended period of time (5 minutes or so), I get her out of bed and try again to amuse her. Sometimes it's just false fussing and she really wasn't ready for bed. We are in such a situation just now and she's playing happily...but her dad is off somewhere instead of enjoying her company. Oh, by the way, it was he who suggested that it was nap time for her in the first place. Thanks for the input...


Brenda Nixon, M.A. Replied: Sounds like you're an attentive and responsive grandparent. You are correct that, at 11-months, it's normal for a baby to fuss a bit or wiggle around before drifting off to sleep.
Posted On 2009-04-04 19:55:12
Janet Whalley Replied: It is nice that your son-in-law wants his daughter happy and not crying, however, a parents' job is also to encourage a child's normal development. Between 9-12 months of age, a baby is developing the ability to settle herself using self-comforting techniques. This means that an 11-month-old infant is put to bed when still awake and is given the opportunity to master her own ability for getting to sleep. This often includes several minutes of fussing when put to bed. (So covering your granddaughter's head with her blankie is not useful when encouraging these self-comforting skills.)

In addition, you are being appropriate when you get her out of bed if she seems really upset or does not seem sleepy after 5-10 minutes. As a baby nears 12 months of age, she might not need two naps each day. However, it's a good idea to put her to bed at usual times until you are sure that she has given up the morning nap.

As a grandmother, I suggest that you let your daughter or son-in-law care for her when they are available. This way you won't be doing the "wrong" thing and they can provide the care they believe is right for their daughter. As we all know, each mother and father use different child care techniques and so do the grandparents. The goal of each caregiver is to offer safe and developmentally appropriate care, even though we have different styles. A good book that helps parents learn about infant and child development is "Touchpoints: the Essential Reference" by T. Berry Brazelton. It discusses a child's emotional and behavioral development during the first three years of life.

Best wishes,
Janet Whalley, RN, IBCLC

Posted On 2008-10-31 17:07:54
Jill Wodnick Replied: Dear One, Thank you for writing in. What I am hearing is that the nap patterns is not the only difference in parenting style that you and your son have. Basic, first chakra issues of feeding, sleeping and caregiving mean different things to people in the same family. How much caregiving of your granddaughter do you do each week? You mentioned that your son did not stay and play with her, but went off somewhere; so is there a deeper issue of your work as a caregiver needing more validation, more boundaries of your time and more involvement/engagement of him? In terms of sleeping, I refer to Dr. Sears' phrase of 'parenting to sleep' whether for naps or for night time, to make the journey into sleep a time for family rituals like songs, prayers, gentle touch etc. At 11 months old, her developmental stage with object permanance is to not want to be alone, so helping her get to sleep through rocking, singing, etc. is a strategy that can help with seperation anxiety at this age. The other point I would like to mention is that when infant/toddler's emotional needs are met early, like their cries attended to, they actually become more self reliant as toddlers and preschoolers, so you son's instincts about a lot of skin to skin contact has been shown to make a neurological positive impact in neural pathways when babies are carried. Please keep in touch and consider writing again to give a greater context of your situation with your son. In light, Jill
Posted On 2008-10-31 08:15:58
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