Everyone loves it when their baby wants to cuddle, however there is a difference between just a cuddle and having a baby that always needs you. Separation anxiety will affect every baby at some point. For the most part separation anxiety occurs because the baby is trying to perceive the world and needs comfort when he/she develops. Knowing key signs that the baby shows may help you and your baby get through this rough time.
Signs of Separation Anxiety
- Baby wakes up often
- Baby wakes up early
- Baby cries when someone leaves the room
- Baby gets upset if he/she is alone
- Baby does not like playing alone
Timeframe of When to Suspect
- Around 4 to 7 months your baby will start to develop "object permanence" (one of the mental growth spurts). During this time your baby will start to realize that once you leave the room, that you are gone. Your baby will not understand that you will be coming back at this point, which makes the separation anxiety worse.
- Around 8 months to 12 months
- Again around 18 months to 2 1/2 years
The timeframe of how long the separation anxiety lasts varies from baby to baby. It truly depends on the baby's temperament. Separation anxiety can last until your baby goes into elementary school.
How to Help
- Keep things in a routine - this will let your baby have a schedule and teach him/her that you will be coming back.
- Introduce strangers early - a young baby does not know the difference between a friend and a stranger. So if you introduce new caretakers earlier, your baby won't know that they are strangers.
- Practice leaving baby (in a safe environment) - teach your baby that if he/she does not see you that you will be coming back. Tell your baby you are going to another room and will be back. This will help teach your baby you will be returning.
- Say goodbye - this can be hard and you will just want to sneak out. DO NOT sneak out. If you sneak out this could make your baby's separation anxiety worse. Tell your baby bye and that you will see him/her later on.
Remember that this is short lived, so try not to create new habits that can hinder your baby as he/she gets older.