Helping Baby Cope – Dealing With Infant Separation Anxiety


Helping Baby Cope – Dealing With Infant Separation Anxiety

You are a new parent and so excited. You love showing your baby off and enjoy letting others hold this beautiful blessing. For several months, this is not only a great thing for you, but your baby seems to be enjoying all the attention and affection as well.

Then around six to eight months old, someone else holds your baby and suddenly there are tears – tears that don’t stop until your baby is back in your arms. Your baby doesn’t seem to be enjoying all the extra attention anymore and you may be puzzled.

Don’t despair; your baby is experiencing a common emotion known as infant separation anxiety. Here are some things to do that will help you and baby deal with this natural emotion.

First, it’s important to understand what’s going on with infant separation anxiety. For the first six to eight months of the baby’s life, he or she is constantly learning (to move, make noises, and what to do to get your attention). You are not only the primary caregiver for your baby; you are your baby’s entire world.

As your child ages, he or she comes to realize, however, that there are times you can leave the baby with someone else (that you can go away). He or she is also developing the very beginnings of a unique personality. So what do you do to help your child get through infant separation anxiety?

Around the age of six months, start leaving your child with a trusted friend or family member for short periods of time (an hour or so). This will help your child get used to being apart from you. If your child’s infant separation anxiety is acute, cut this time in half. Also, try to make this away time consistent each day – in other words, leave and return at the same time each day. In addition, don’t sneak away when you leave. Say bye-bye to your baby on your way out.

Provide your child with something that he or she can hold onto that will remind them of you. Be careful with this, however, as it could have an opposite effect. Rather than providing security, it could remind your child that you are gone.

Don’t get upset yourself when you are leaving. If your child sees you are crying or upset, he or she will not be able to make the transition as easily either. Your child is very sensitive to your moods, so it is important that you stay calm when leaving your child with a sitter or family member (even for a short period of time).

Try to get your baby and his sitter to start an activity before you head out the door. If your child is involved in something fun and distracting, he or she may not feel as anxious when you say bye-bye. This will not eliminate infant separation anxiety; however, it may lessen the negative effects on you and your child.

Remember, infant separation anxiety is a common occurrence in children between the ages of six and eight months old. Some children get through this quickly and easily; however, some children take much longer to deal with this frightening time in life.

Infant separation anxiety rarely lasts beyond the age of three. Once you and your child become more comfortable with the times you must be apart, you will find that you have a much healthier child and parent-child relationship.

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