Separation anxiety is a very normal attribute of babies, particularly those between eight and 24 months old. It is a situation when your baby becomes fearful and nervous when he/she is away from you. But this is not permanent.
When your baby is six months old, he/she will start to realize that you and he/she are separate beings. He/she will slowly understand that even if you are not in his/her sight, you are not out of his/her mind. This gives the birth of his/her separation anxiety.
You can find him/her acting fussy when you are trying to put him/her down from your lap or going somewhere. This usually starts from the age of eight months, but the crisis age for most babies seems to be between 18 and 24 months. But by the age of three it is supposed to be completely gone.
Here are some tips for you to help your baby minimize his/her separation anxiety:
- Make it a habit of waving him goodbyes when you leave. Most parents try to sneak out of house while their babies are sleeping or engaged into something. It can make his/her separation anxiety more severe. If he/she gets a feeling that you can disappear without notice, he/she can never let you go out of his/her sight.
- Try to prepare him/her before you are leaving by talking about your departure. Make sure to tell him/her that you will be back soon. You can tell him/her who will take care of him/her and what activities he/she can do, while you are away.
- You can provide him/her a transitional object while you are away to keep him/her reminding that you are always there. It can be anything, from your photo to your scarf.
- Instead of leaving him/her behind, you can ask the babysitter to take him/her to the park or out for a stroll as you head out of the door. Try to make your baby understand that you are going out as well, or else he/she will be more upset to find out an empty house when he/she returns.
- Make him/her engrossed in an activity with his/her babysitter, before you leave. You can simply bid him/her good-bye and kiss him/her the moment you are leaving. He/she may still cry, but the activity can serve as a distraction for him/her.
- Sometimes you need to be firm and let him/her cope with situation. He/She may be unhappy and crying when you leave, but gradually he/she will learn to adjust with it and his/her behaviour will fall in place. Reassure him/her that he will be fine and try to leave without making things look more dramatic.