All babies experience separation anxiety from time to time. But since babies can’t really express how they feel in words, how can you recognize separation anxiety in your baby, and what tips can help you avoid it? Herein are 6 ways to help avoid separation anxiety in babies but first let us discuss what separation anxiety is and how to recognize it.
Separation anxiety is the fear a baby has that it will never see you again. This usually occurs when your baby notices you are leaving the room or they wakes up in the night and you are not there. Also, your baby may develop separation anxiety when you hand him over to an unfamiliar face.
Separation anxiety makes your baby restless therefore making it extremely difficult for your baby to sleep soundly during bedtime. On the bright side, however, you can do several things to help your baby having separation anxiety. This article discusses six useful techniques that will help calm your baby, put him to bed, and keep him sleeping.
Noteworthy is the fact that it is perfectly normal for a baby to have separation anxiety. In fact, it is a clear indication that the child recognizes and has a firm attachment to his parents. How then can a parent recognize separation anxiety in their baby?
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How to Recognize if Your Baby Has Separation Anxiety?
Before you can help a baby with sleep anxiety, you need to first recognize what you are dealing with. If your baby plays around gleefully in a room while you are with him and then starts to cry as soon as you head for the door or starts to cry when someone else is holding him and it seems you are out of sight; then your baby is having separation anxiety.
At What Age You Can Expect Separation Anxiety?
Newborns do not experience separation anxiety because they do not have or understand the concept of being attached to anyone. With time, the baby registers the same familiar friendly face of his parents and as it grows older it learns that it can be separated from its parents.
The baby at this stage however does not have any sense of time and can’t tell if you’d be back in a minute or will be gone forever. More than often, separation anxiety is often noticed in babies during the second half of the first year of life which tends to peak around the age of 8-10 months.
Most babies tend to have separation anxiety until they are at least 18 months while others remain anxious until they are two years old. It is not impossible however for your baby to get over it at 12 months of age.
6 Ways to Handle Separation Anxiety:
As a parent, you must understand that your baby’s fear of not seeing you again is real. The best way to allay this fear is by helping your infant build trust and confidence that no matter what, you will always be back. The following technique will help you do just that:
1 – Allow your baby spend quality time with other people
Yours is not the only face your baby will see and become used to while growing up and since your circumstances may change from time to time, it is wise that you factor in friends and family to hold, play with your baby, and even put him to bed. If your baby is having a hard time adjusting to other people, you can help by being there when friends and family spend time with your baby. That way, he sees you and feels safe around them, and in no time, he adjusts to having other people around even when you’re not.
2 – Play peek-a-boo
This is where it gets interesting. Most infants love it when parents play games with them as is evident in the giggles and bright smiles you get during the games. Peek-a-boo is a fun game for babies above 6 months of age where you hide your face behind your palm, under the table, or somewhere else after which you disappear for a short time and suddenly reappear and say ‘peek-a-boo’. Even if your baby fails to understand the concept of the game, he will still benefit from it because the game teaches your baby that you will always come back thereby building up trust and confidence between you and your baby. While your baby grows older, you may choose to increase the amount of time you spend hidden or play even more fun games together. This will help your baby avoid separation anxiety.
3 – No drama
Given, seeing your baby crying for no apparent reason will break your heart. However, it is vital that you do not make a scene yourself or get upset. Keep your goodbye short and act normal and confident showing your baby that there is nothing to fear. When you make no room for drama, your baby will pick up on signs of your feelings and in time understand that though you must go, you will always come back. Before you know it, the stage of having separation anxiety in your baby’s development will be over.
4 – Keep life steady when your baby is 9-10 month
During the periods of 9-10 months of your baby’s life, you need to keep things as constant as possible in your baby’s life as separation anxiety is mostly observed during this stage of the infant’s life. Make sure that you stick to already established routines that the baby is already comfortable with. This period is not the time to change the baby’s room, start daycare or go on holiday as it is a sensitive time for the baby, and doing any of these things can trigger separation anxiety.
5 – Speak to your child
This tip works best with babies approaching their first year and not with younger babies because babies in the given age category understand more than you can imagine. Calmly talk to your baby explaining where in the house you will be when he is sleeping and reassuring him that you will be back in no time to play with him and attend to his needs. You can try this exercise that helps your child build trust and confidence in you: while putting your baby to bed, promise him you’d be back soon to check on him then leave the room only for a minute or two before you reenter the room. Apparently, your baby won’t know that you were gone for only a moment because he doesn’t have a good sense of time. However, your baby will remember that you promised to be back soon, and you did come back. The memory of you promising to come back remains freshly painted in your baby’s young mind as such reinforcing the trust and confidence your baby already has in you and helping him avoid separation anxiety.
6 – Help your infant feel close to you even when you are not there
While babies cannot talk and communicate until they come of age, they recognize their parents’ voice, their faces, and the unique scent they have because of spending loads of time together. As such, if your baby is having separation anxiety, you can help him even when you are not thereby leaving reminders of yourself with him. Perhaps you could leave an item of clothing that has your scent in the cot with your baby. While this works wonders on your infant, you must ensure that the clothing item does not smother your baby. To be safe, sleep in a suffocation risk-free blanket for a few nights after which your scent remains on the blanket before your baby uses it in his cot. Another practical approach to this is to record your voice singing your baby’s favorite lullaby and then playing it when you are not there.
Through the course of this text, we have discussed what separation anxiety in infants is, why it occurs, how to recognize it, and helpful ways to avoid it.
Does your baby have separation anxiety? Don’t panic. Simply apply one or all the six given techniques in this text with your baby and get outstanding results in little or no time.
Have you observed separation anxiety in your baby and how has it affected you and your baby?
Has any of the techniques herein proved helpful with your child or have you discovered other ways to help your child having separation anxiety?