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Separation Anxiety in Babies

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baby crying while lying in their crib

When babies reach about eight months old, they can become quite clingy. If it seems like your baby is suffering from minor depression or panic attacks when you leave the room, she could be suffering from separation anxiety.

Why Separation Anxiety Happens

When your baby looks at you, she sees the most important person in her life. She feels safe and happy when she's with you and this can be a great feeling for both mom and baby.

When your baby was first born, you could leave the room and she wouldn't notice. However, now that she's older, she realizes that you've left the room and has mini panic attacks because she doesn't know if you're coming back. Babies don't realize that people and things still exist when they can't be seen so she worries that she's never going to see you again.

After a few more months pass, your baby will understand that you come back for her if you drop her off at a babysitter's or leave the room. This worrying and crying when you leave is known as separation anxiety.

How to Handle Separation Anxiety at Home

It can be hard to handle your baby's mini panic attacks or depression when you leave, but it's important to remember that this is a phase that will pass. If you stay at home with your child, go about your daily routine. If possible, try to put your baby in a place where she can see you if you need to go to another room or talk to your baby when she can't see you. Many moms and dads like to have a special place where they can put their baby, such as a bathmat with some toys in the bathroom, or a high chair in the kitchen. This can mean the daily tasks and chores, such as showering and cooking dinner, still get done, while helping your baby cope with separation.

How to Handle Separation Anxiety During the Workday

If you're a working parent, it can be heart-wrenching to leave your screaming baby so you can go to work -- a few days of this can send parents into a deep depression. If you're in a rush to get to work, make sure that your baby has a special caregiver who she loves and hand your baby to her. Your baby may still cry, but you can be comforted knowing that she's with someone who loves her and will take care of her. Try to make your goodbyes short to reduce your baby's distress.

Most parents call to check on their baby later and find that after just a few minutes, she calmed down and was playing happily. Your childcare workers should always welcome a phone call from a parent to check on her well-being during the day.

If you find that your baby never calms down, or you frequently hear that she cries throughout the day, it might be time to look for other childcare arrangements.

Helping Your Child Through Separation Anxiety

When you're reunited with your child, greet her with the same phrase, such as, "Mommy's back again!" This will help her understand that you will always come back for her.

Coping with Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can be difficult for parents. If you're the one who's always in demand, it can be frustrating! If you start to feel anxious or frustrated yourself, try to consider this from your baby's point of view: She loves you so much and you're the most important person in the world to her. And remember, it won't be like this forever -- soon enough she'll be running out the door and you'll be begging for a snuggle.

 
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