Your little baby was all charming and smiling to everyone and then BOOM! She is no longer interested in any person besides you.
Even after relaxing her with a warm bath and oiling her skin with her favorite toy, before placing her in bed – the moment you step out of the room, she goes wild.
As a young parent, this may be frustrating, especially if you are thinking of enrolling her in daycare or preschool to resume work.
You want to know that your baby is comfortable where you leave her.
Well, I have good news and bad news,
The good news is your baby will soon be receptive of good strangers and happy when you are at work.
The bad news is, well, there is really no bad news because all she may be going through is Separation Anxiety, and it’s not a serious condition – it’s just a stage of development.
All babies experience separation anxiety.
What is Separation Anxiety?
It’s a stage that develops in kids between 6 and 7 months when they get the objective performance sense.
Objective performance is a word professionals use to describe the stage when your baby starts to realize that items and individuals exist even when they are not in the same room with them.
Initially, she did not know this, so if you even if you placed her in bed, and she began crying, it might have been caused by other factors.
At this stage, your baby knows that you are the who one solves her problems when she is stressed. You tend to her when she is hungry or wet. It is, therefore, very devastating when their primary caregiver is leaving.
The logic is, when you are going to buy groceries or to work, you know exactly how long you will be gone.
On the other side, your baby does not know how long. She is afraid of your not coming back.
It’s the uncertainty of when you will be back that causes separation anxiety in babies.
A different caregiver or strange environment can worsen separation anxiety.
They will, however, go back to normal when they feel safe again. It’s a moment of transition.
Parents can also experience separation anxiety as well, especially the one who takes care of her for a long time – it can hurt moms health more if there was breastfeeding involved.
Is Separation Anxiety a Good or Bad Thing?
Well, you may think and feel otherwise, but separation anxiety is actually a thing to celebrate. It shows that your kid is growing and that she feels connected to you.
The fact that your baby misses you and feels insecure when you are leaving shows that so far you are doing an excellent parenting job.
The only thing you got to learn is the cause and solutions of the anxiety and that I will teach you in this article.
If well managed it cannot hurt your baby’s health.
Ages When Separation Anxiety is Common
Separation anxiety in children can happen in different stages. Here are the ages in which they commonly occur;
Infants: As mentioned earlier, separation anxiety begins when the kids gain objective performance. For some, it may be between 4 and 5 months, but it grows stronger at nine months.
Toddlers: If she never experienced separation anxiety at infancy, she may develop separation anxiety at 15 to18 months. This is the time she is gaining independence, and she may be louder when you are leaving. Ensure when you are leaving, they are healthy, not hungry or feeling tired as these factors can worsen the whole process.
Preschoolers: At age 3, children understand separation anxiety. They know what it means for mommy or daddy to leave.
Signs of Separation Anxiety in Babies
Here are some signs to look out for to be sure your tot is suffering from separation anxiety;
Your Baby No Longer Loves Her Toys
You may realize that she doesn’t want to play alone anymore. Even the toys she loved before, do not excite her anymore.
She prefers to play with you. This may be time-consuming and devastating for you. However, it is just her way of being sure you are there and not leaving.
She Gets Upset When Left Alone
You just went to pick a glass of water, and she is now very upset. It does not happen suddenly – it grows gradually.
She may not only not hate when you leave her alone, but you may realize she insists on you holding her all the time when you resurface.
This is to ensure – you don’t leave, or at least you go with her when you leave.
Forcing independence by leaving for more extended periods cannot solve the tantrums at this age. Practise being apart for short periods.
She Starts Crying When You Drop Her to Her Caregiver
It’s now difficult leaving her at her usual child care . Although she never used to mind before, all of a sudden, she doesn’t enjoy being left there anymore.
If she is used to staying with mommy, she may not enjoy daddy’s or grandma’s company anymore too.
She is Waking Up Earlier
When your baby was sleeping for many hours before, you may realize that she is now waking up earlier.
It’s also harder for her to go back to sleep when you are not there.
Disruption in Sleeping Patterns
Your baby may wake up more times at night than before and cry for you. This is very normal with separation anxiety.
How to Overcome Separation Anxiety in Babies
Now that you understand what is separation anxiety, causes, and symptoms, here are the options of managing separation anxiety in babies;
Playing peekaboo helps separation less dramatic. Hide or send away the favorite pets of your kid, and see that they return.
This teaches your kids that even when you are gone and they can’t see you, you will eventually come back, and it significantly reduces a child’s separation anxiety.
Take Time to Familiarize Your Baby with a Strange Environment
If you are leaving your child in a daycare, take a few minutes every day to walk with her and familiarize her with the compound.
Also, carry some of her items from home, such as her favorite toy, blanket, or stuffed animal. This gives her a connection to her home.
It is even better when you give her time to play with her toys before you leave. The routine may her help settle easily.
Give Her Time to Get Acquainted with the Caregiver
If it’s day one of a caregiver, it is vital that you ask them to come at least half an hour before you leave. Spend some time together – the three of you.
This ensures the baby does not feel like she is being left with a stranger. Briefing the caregiver on the interests, favorite foods and games of the baby may also help to maintain the kids calm.
Enjoying what she is used to when you are away makes her feel more at ease.
DON’T Sneak Away
It is sad to leave your baby screaming clinging on you – so for many parents; they choose to sneak away to avoid all the drama. It can be confusing for your baby that one moment you were there and all of a sudden you are not.
It may also increase their insecurity. Instead of sneaking away, create a goodbye ritual.
With all Due Respect, Let the Baby Cry
She is a baby, let her cry – it is her way of expressing how she feels, and it is allowed. Stop sticking around to comfort her when you hand her over to the caregiver. This will only increase her agony.
Instead, kiss her, tell her you love her and leave. Eventually, the cry will stop, and your guilt will go away altogether.
Create Happy Returns
I can’t stress enough, the importance of a happy return. When you are coming back, if your baby throws her little arms to you, hug her and hang out for a few seconds. If she gives you her toy, take it and play with her for a little bit.
This makes the child know that even though seeing mommy leave is really sad, there is always a happy return.
Week by week you will see your crying baby say goodbye happily as she looks forward to your return.
Use the Power of Smell
Use a spray for a few weeks to give your baby a chance to master it. If you are leaving her with daddy, encourage him to use it. If she is going to daycare, spray her clothes or items with your spray.
She associates the smell with you, and it is comforting to her.
Separation Anxiety in Babies at Night
Night times are the worst.
You are so tired, and a few minutes after placing her in her crib, she starts screaming.
One way you can solve this is by alternating the bedtime routine. If its mommy who puts her in bed every day, and she misses her for a night, she will notice her absence and react by throwing tantrums.
To avoid this, alternate the person who puts her to bed every day.
Another way of dealing with separation anxiety in babies at night is by making their crib a happy place. The safer she feels in the crib, the easier it is for her when she is alone.
Create many great moments in the crib. Play with her when she is happy in the crib and see that you pick her when she is still in a good mood.
Remember your baby’s sleep contributes to the growth of your toddler so it is important you help her achieve a goodnight sleep. Track your baby’s sleep just to be sure she is getting enough sleep.
If not, try event ways to put the baby to sleep.
A Quick Note about Separation Anxiety in Babies
Every stage of a toddler should be celebrated. It means that as a parent, you are serving her right and allowing development.
Separation anxiety is just a phase just like teething or potty training that will soon pass.
Leaving your kid behind screaming every day may question your parenting and cause stress to you too.
It is ,therefore, critical to remind yourself that if something, it is for the care you give her that she misses her and only trusts you for care.
By following the tips discussed in this article, the separation will reduce and eventually fade away.