When Your Baby Has Separation Anxiety

By Elizabeth Pantley

From the time that babies become aware of the world around them they begin to form important relationships with the people in their lives. They quickly learn that certain people are vital to their happiness and their survival. Babies don’t have the ability to understand how the world works, so they don’t know what makes these people appear or disappear, and when they are out of sight they have now way of knowing if their beloved people are gone forever. So, to protect themselves from potential loss, babies crave the nearness of those they love.

Try to embrace your child’s anxiety as a positive sign. It’s perfectly okay – even wonderful – for your child to be so attached to you and for her to desire your constant companionship. Congratulations: It’s evidence that the bond you’ve worked so hard to create is holding.

Over time, your little one will learn that when the two of you are separated everything is just fine, and that other people are capable of meeting his needs. He’ll also learn through experience that you do always return. It will take time, however, for your child to mature enough to reach this point. Until then, to help your child learn to understand, accept and deal with separation, try some of the following ideas.

PLAY THE “BYE-BYE” GAME

Most parents play “Peek-A-Boo” games with their babies. That’s a great way to show Baby that even when he can’t see you – you still exist. You can take this game to the next level – here’s how:  Say “Bye-Bye” to your baby and duck behind a corner or a piece of furniture. A few seconds later pop out and say, “Hi Baby!” Play this game every day, and then use the same actions when you leave the room or when you leave the house.

AVOID THE IN-ARMS TRANSFER

It’s common to hand the baby over to the sitter on your way out the door. But this physical act can produce a lot of anxiety for your baby. To avoid this, make your exit when your baby is playing on the floor, or sitting in a swing or highchair. Have the sitter engage your child’s attention. Say a quick, happy good-bye. When you’re gone – that’s the time for the caregiver to pick your baby up. Then she’ll be the rescuer – this can help them bond while you are gone.

See next page for two more helpful tips…

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