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Infants » Newborn Development

Fussy Nine Month Old at Daycare

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Dear Susan:

I am a child care provider with a nine month old child in my care. He has always fussed whenever you put him down, even if you put toys in front of him. It has gotten progressively worse, even if I don’t pay attention to him. I know mom and dad hold him constantly. He is able to crawl, so he can get to toys, etc. He simply wants to be entertained all the time. How can we help him overcome this problem without scarring him for life! We are all going crazy around here!


Dear Wendy:

Thank you for contacting our site and writing to us.

Family daycare providers are so important in these days of scarcity of good, high quality childcare. Nine month olds are usually lonely and even sad when they take naps or sleep away from the smallest sounds and touches of “home” – have mom and dad bring in some personal items that usually are part of his bedtime routine; rock him in the same chair every time for 5-10 minutes ahead of time; sing about naptime; read “Good Night Moon” – have a routine that always happens when he is tired; keep to a schedule and involve the other children who don’t nap, by asking them to help you “quiet down,” put him in the rocking chair, go set up their activity etc. Pat and sing to him when you put him down, drop a blanket down the crib side that’s open to the room and from the lights. If he’s in a separate room, tell him you‘ll check on him in 5 minutes , and let him fuss. If he persists, knock on the door, tell him you’re there, come in, don’t talk to him, just pat him again, then leave quietly, shut the door, wait 6 minutes, etc.

Be sure the parents use the same routine at home. A bath is a good relaxer; no bottles in beds, no bottle right before (1/2 hour before is still pretty close; 1 hour is better) no food just before nap – causes anxiety and indigestion that feels like irritability and causes wakefulness. Remember that attachment and separation anxiety are not one-time things to some babies, some temperaments of some babies cause them to re-experience this loss at bedtime more often than playtime when they are distracted, infants feel and think about the persons and objects to which they’re attached, at different times of the day. Use distraction and lively play when babies are in a good wakeful mood; use massage, cuddling and singing (not fast motion, like a swing) when babies are calming down for sleep.

If you organize your spaces in a positive way, positive behaviors and good habits will come in time. All babies want attention. The other children you care for are excellent entertainers for the nine month old.

Parents hold him because they don‘t see him much and they think he is very dependent on them. If you tell the parents all the brilliant, smart things he does during the day, they’ll  be less clinging with each other when with him, they will feel they are in charge,” even when absent. Help them to feel powerful about their parenting role. Daycare parents often feel sad they miss so much and guilty. Help them to feel exactly the opposite!

Go for it!

Thanks again,

Dr. Susan Turben

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