Separation anxiety is completely normal part of growing and shows that your little one is developing well intellectually, but it can be heartbreaking to leave your baby while they are upset. Separation anxiety takes place when a baby is unusually very upset, screams or cries just as a parent tries to leave; this is because they don’t know if their mummy or daddy will ever return. Walking away from your crying baby can feel agonizing and leave you feeling deflated. Luckily, there are many ways that parents can establish a routine to teach their little one they will return and there is no need for tears. Here are Babogue’s top tips on handling separation anxiety in babies.
What Age Do Babies Get Separation Anxiety?
Signs of separation anxiety usually begin at around 8 to 12 months old, as this is when your baby will develop emotional relationships; they can recognise different people and begin to form connections with parents and other close carers. Before the age of 8 months, babies may not have the ability to distinguish their relationships between people that care for them, so they are not attached to specific people. At the age of around 8 months, your little one will form a close relationship with a parent/s and begin to depend on them.
They will not yet understand they can survive separately without the parent, which is why they can become so unsettled when you leave them. The extent of separation anxiety can vary depending on the child, so don’t feel as though you don’t have a close bond with your baby if they don’t get upset when you’re leaving!
What Should I Do When My Baby Cries When I’m Leaving?
Create a Happy Routine When You Are About to Leave
One way to help ease the separation anxiety for your little one when you are leaving is to make saying goodbye a happy and positive time. You should create a routine that prepares your little one for your departure, so they know what is coming and aren’t too surprised. You can do things such as giving your baby a kiss and cuddle, smiling and waving at them with confidence, or singing a happy song. This will help your baby to see that you leaving isn’t a sad time, and they will get used to knowing you are going to come back.
Try to Avoid Showing Negative Emotions
Although it can be difficult not to, showing your little one that you feel upset or stressed out when you are leaving them can only make them cry or scream more. Your baby will feel the tension and associate you leaving with a negative feeling. You must show confidence and positivity when walking out the door so that your emotion is mirrored to your baby.
Don’t Wait Around While Your Baby is Crying
If you wait and fuss around your baby while they are crying then you are only extending the period of distress for you and your little one. Make a happy routine and leave promptly, you can check in with your little one’s carer once you have left to see how they are doing. Usually, your baby will settle down pretty quickly.
What Can I Do to Help Ease Separation Anxiety in my Baby?
Easing the separation anxiety in your baby can take time but there are a range of tips that can work to show your baby that you leaving isn’t a bad thing. Even if you are trying to put your baby down to sleep in a cot and leave the room, they will think you have gone forever and not realise you are right there with them. Once you have established a routine your little one will learn to recognise patterns and repeated actions that indicate you are leaving and will be returning.
Cuddle and Play with Your Baby When You Return
One of the best things you can do to help ease separation anxiety is to give your little one lots of attention and make the time you return a time to look forward to. Once you begin to make your return a positive and happy time, your little one will begin to associate you leaving with a joyful return and feel less emotional. Sit down and play with your baby or cuddle and make her laugh for as long as possible. Remember, a positive attitude will reflect on your baby.
Leave Your Little One with Something as a Substitution
Leaving your little one with a blanket, teddy bear or their favourite toy can comfort them when you aren’t nearby. Having something else they can focus their attention on will help to ease them once you have left. Your little one may naturally have a toy or blanket they are attached to or you may want to try and introduce something for them when you leave yourself. Remember every child is different so be patient and open to trying different things.
Practice Being Separated from Your Baby
One of the best things you can do to help ease the separation anxiety in your baby is to practice short periods of separation from your little one so they can get used to the feeling of you leaving and then returning. Leave your little one with a carer you trust and start going out for 5 minutes, increasing the time to 10 minutes, and then 30 minutes… each time returning with a big happy smile and cuddle. If you are your child’s primary care giver, spending months with them with no separation and then suddenly going back to work and leaving them will make their separation anxiety much worse.
Here at Babogue, we can help your baby get a better night’s sleep so that the whole family is less grumpy and more healthy. Erica is a certified child sleep consultant and established Babogue to help families create settled sleep in their homes. Babogue have helped over 2,500 families in 24 different countries to achieve their sleep goals. Get in touch with us today through [email protected].