How to Ease Separation Anxiety for Infants

His little faced puckered up, he arched his back and proceeded to let out the most plaintive, heart stopping wail! Was this a case of separation anxiety, we wondered, or did little James have a pain somewhere that we did not know about?

My daughter was baby sitting for a neighbors son and had, in a frantic state, called me over to see what I could do to help get James to sleep. He was clearly not a happy little boy when I arrived and only seemed to get worse, despite our efforts to rock him and calm him down. What his mother had failed to tell my daughter, was that James suffered from colic, a form of sever abdominal pain in babies. He had an excruciating pain in his little tummy and it was only after an hour of soothing and rocking that he eventually went off to sleep. The fact that he was with strangers had made his discomfort even worse.

This is an illustration of why it is vitally important for parents to prepare their baby for a time of separation, albeit even for a few hours. It is a huge responsibility looking after someone else’s child, and more particularly and infant who can not communicate with anything more than with plaintive sobbing!

Good points to consider when leaving one’s baby in care are:

1. If the child is colicky (this usually happens after five and is a result of a build up of wind) then he must not be left with carers until he has been settled by his parents, or he will become even more anxious. If this is impossible to do, the carer must know what might happen and follow the routine taken by the parents. Usually light medication and constant rocking and soothing.

2. Under normal circumstances, helping to ease separation and possible anxiety should involve letting the baby become familiar with people other than the parents. Let his get used to being held and coddled by others. Babies who are only used to their parents become more agitated when they are left strangers for any period of time.

3. Make up his feed, make sure his diaper is dry and clean, have a set of clothing handy for the carer to use on him. It will certainly help in easing his anxiety if you settle him as well as you can before leaving him.

4. A mother’s scent is very important to a baby. Their sense of smell is heightened when they are tiny and it’s therefore a great idea, to help ease anxiety due to separation, if you put a handkerchief lightly sprinkled with the mother’s perfume, close to where the baby is sitting or lying.

5. Make sure that the carer is fully aware of all he baby’s needs. They must have an idea what time the baby wakes up and exactly what the routine is when he does.

6. If need be leave a recording of your voice – singing, or simply talking in a soft tone to the baby. If you cannot be there in person, the familiarity of your voice will help to ease his anxiousness and will help to settle him down.

7. Never leave a baby without a hug – it will help both you and the baby to be a lot less anxious!