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Does Your Baby Have Separation Anxiety?

Does Your Baby Have Separation Anxiety?

ways to help your baby deal with separation anxiety

  1. Allow your baby to be a baby. It’s perfectly okay for your baby to be attached to you and for her to desire your constant companionship. It’s evidence that the bond you’ve worked so hard to create is holding. So politely ignore those who tell you otherwise.

  2. Don’t worry about spoiling her with love, since quite the opposite will happen. The more that you meet her attachment needs during babyhood, the more confident and secure she will grow up to be.

  3. Give your baby lessons in object permanence. As your baby learns that things continue to exist even when she can’t see them, she’ll feel better about letting you out of her sight. Games like peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek will help her understand this phenomenon.

  4. Practice with quick, safe separations. Throughout the day, create situations of brief separation. When you go into another room, whistle, sing, or talk to your baby so she knows you’re still there, even though she can’t see you.

  5. Don’t sneak away when you have to leave her. It may seem easier than dealing with a tearful goodbye, but it will just cause her constant worry that you’re going to disappear without warning at any given moment. The result? Even more clinginess and diminished trust in your relationship.

  6. Tell your baby what to expect. If you are going to the store and leaving her at home with Grandma, explain where you are going and tell her when you’ll be back. Eventually, she’ll come to understand your explanations.

  7. Don’t rush the parting, but don’t prolong it, either. Give your baby time to process your leave-taking, but don’t drag it out and make it more painful for both of you.

  8. Express a positive attitude when leaving her. If you’re off to work or an evening out, leave with a smile. Your baby will absorb your emotions, so if you’re nervous about leaving her, she’ll be nervous as well. Your confidence will help alleviate her fears.

  9. Leave your baby with familiar people. If you must leave her with a new caregiver, try to arrange a few visits when you’ll all be together before you leave the two of them alone for the first time.

  10. Invite distractions. If you’re leaving your baby with a caregiver or relative, encourage that person to get your baby involved with playtime as you leave. Say a quick good-bye and let your baby be distracted by an interesting activity.

  11. Encourage her relationship with a special toy, if she seems to have one. These are called transitional objects or lovies. They can be a comfort to her when she’s separated from you. Many babies adopt blankets or soft toys as loveys, holding them to ease any pain of separation. The lovey becomes a friend and represents security in the face of change.

  12. Don’t take it personally. Many babies go through a stage of attaching themselves to one parent or the other. The other parent (as well as grandparents, siblings and friends) can find this difficult to accept, but try to reassure them that it’s just a temporary and normal phase of development and with a little time and patience, it will pass.

Meet our expert:

Elizabeth Pantley is a mother of four and the best-selling author of eight parenting books, including: The No-Cry Sleep Solution and The No-Cry Discipline Solution. She is also a contributing author to The Successful Child with Dr. William Sears. Based in Washington, Pantley is the president of Better Beginnings Inc. (a family resource and education company) and a parenting expert for a variety of publications including: Parents, Parenting and Redbook. (www.pantley.com)