Dealing with baby separation anxiety can be tough for parents. Babies naturally cry when being separated from their main caregivers, even the person watching them is someone they know. When you have to go to work, or even need a night out on the town, chances are you are going to have to leave your baby in the care of another person. It helps to understand why this happens, about what age separation anxiety starts, and things you can do to lessen the trauma. Read further to get the information you need to help you minimize the anxiety for both you and your baby.
Separation anxiety in infants and young children is actually a very normal developmental stage. They are learning more and more about their world. Just like when you place a block or favorite toy underneath a blanket, and baby thinks it has disappeared, when parents leave the room they think you have disappeared, too. Object permanence is when the object or person still exists, but is just out of sight for a little while. Your baby understands that they cannot see something, they just haven’t quite got the full picture that the object or person will be seen again.
It also comes down to survival instinct. Your baby cannot feed or care for himself, and when a parent leaves them, they feel anxiety and fear over not having their needs met. Keep in mind that your baby will soon learn that other people can care for him/her and they will not go hungry without you there.
And finally, babies can sense the way their parents feel. Another cause of baby separation anxiety may be your baby picking up cues that you are nervous about leaving them. You may notice your emotions building at the thought of leaving your child even hours before you need to go. Your feelings may range from fear, to guilt, to sadness. Your child senses emotional changes in you and may start to feel nervous.
Separation anxiety in your baby may show up as:
If your baby is unusually fussy, it may warrant a visit with his or her pediatrician to rule out illness, or decide if you are looking at baby separation anxiety.
At birth, babies only know their parents when they can see or smell them in the room. Once you leave a newborn, their only concern is survival i.e. getting fed, changed, and held by anyone. You can comfortably leave a newborn and they don’t know any different.
Separation anxiety in babies begins to surface between the 4th month and 6th month. This is when they understand that you are a different person, and they understand what happens when you leave the room. The issue is they don’t understand time, and think you won’t come back. However, it is kind of like the game of “peek-a-boo,” they begin to understand that even though you have left the room, you still exist somewhere.
On average, babies show definite signs of separation anxiety between 9 months and 1 ½ years of age. It reaches a peak around this time, and begins to wane around age 2 to 2 ½ years.
You can try a few tricks to make baby separation anxiety a little less stressful. These things will help teach him or her that you will be back soon: