How to Ease Separation Anxiety for Infants

“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute
all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”
George Washington (1732-1799).

Motherhood is a precious learning and teaching experience between you and your baby. One of the many things you will learn is that at around the age of 8-12 months your baby will start showing signs of separation anxiety. Your once social, friendly, easy going baby is now crying and clinging to be with you with temper tantrums and is resisting the attention of others. Mommy is his #1 fan. “Mommy is who I want to be with and I don’t want to be left with any one else.” This is your chance to help your baby over this bump and ease his separation anxiety.

Here are some things you can do to help:

Learn about separation anxiety

Separation anxiety according to Webster’s New World Medical Dictionary, “is a developmental stage during which a child experiences anxiety when separated from the primary care giver(usually the mother). Separation anxiety is normal between 8 months of age and may last until 14 months.” Separation anxiety is a positive sign of growth and development, in that your baby now has developed an attachment or a bond with you. His understanding of his environment with regards to the permanence of objects and of people is developing. He feels safe with you and is beginning to identify with you. This is also the stage when your baby is also beginning to realize his own identity. He is exploring his body and his little world.

What Can You Do To Ease His Anxiety?
According to Nemous Foundation (One of the nation’s largest pediatric health systems, dedicated to achieving higher standards in children’s health).
Here are their recommendations:
Try not to begin child care or day care between 8 and 12 months of age, when separation anxiety is most likely to start.

Try not to leave your child when he is tired or hungry- try to schedule your departure after a meal or nap.

Gradually introduce your child to spending time alone with other people.

Be calm and consistent when leaving your child-firmly tell him that you’re leaving but that you’ll be back, and give him a time frame.

Follow through on promises you make, don’t show up late after you’ve promised your child to be back at a certain time.
(This reference to a time frame is age appropriate of course, since a child’s sense of time frame is usually not quite developed).

During the period of 18 months – 3 years when your child may be starting to attend day care or school, this may be a time when your child will also experience separation anxiety.
Here are some other things you can do.

Start introducing your child to playmates or play groups, this will help to gradually ease the feelings of separation anxiety.

Spending time with daddy is good for both baby and daddy, for bonding, and for daddy to get some learning and teaching experiences about fatherhood.

Spending short periods of time with grandma and grandpa is also helpful in gradually getting your baby used to being with other family members.

Morning and evening rituals are of great benefit in establishing routines which will help to calm your child and help in separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety is just one of the phases in your baby’s growth and development.
Learning about your baby and teaching your baby how to adapt during his developmental stages is challenging, adventurous and fun. The pay off comes as you see him eventually grow and develop into a wonderful contributing member of society.