Separation anxiety emerges during the first year of the baby’s life. It is very normal for a child to have separation anxiety. It is a developmental milestone and proves that your baby is reaching its cognitive and emotional milestones.
It does not feel like that when the baby is in distress and is constantly crying, but you should know that it’s a universal and a natural phase in child development.
Every child is different and depending on their temperament, this milestone might look different for different families. For some families, it might be a problem that requires time, attention, or even intervention. For others, it might simply be a phase and pass out in a while.
Why does separation anxiety occur?
Newborn babies believe that they are one with their mothers. Only around 7 months do they start to understand that they are a separate person altogether. This realisation distresses the baby and gets them anxious when the mother is not around.
Baby’s take some time to understand that whenever their mom, dad, or primary caregiver leave, they come back after a while.
Around the same time, they start understanding the concept of Object Permanence. This means babies, know that even when they can’t see you, you exist. So naturally, they try to seek you out.
What can you do to help your baby’s separation anxiety?
This time can be very harsh on you but remember it’s a phase and over some time babies do learn that you will always come back. It gets easier with time.
Always keep your goodbyes brief, if you make a big deal out of it the baby will feel left out and might get cranky.
When you hire a new nanny, give your child some time with you around to get adjusted to seeing and playing with a completely new person. Only once you feel your child feels safe and enjoys the company of someone, leave them with that person. Give your child the opportunity to adjust to the new person.
Practice leaving the room and returning. It tends to reassure your little one and each time you can leave for a little longer than before.
Your baby doesn’t understand the concept of time until they’re a couple of years old. So try to avoid the confusion for them by not saying things like, I’ll be back in half an hour, I’ll be back in a jiffy etc.…
When your baby cries while you’re all set to leave, do not be alarmed. Remember this is an instinct. Crying is a sign that they are developing a secure attachment with you. Always remember, they will eventually recover and move on in your absence. Goodbyes can be upsetting for you and the baby, but never sneak out on your child, it will make them insecure and they might even throw a tantrum when they can’t see you. On the other hand, if you say your goodbyes, your baby will know that you will be back and will be reassured by the other parent or the caregiver.