Don’t Stress! Here are 4 Tips to Help You Deal with the Separation Anxiety Phase

separation anxiety phase
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Separation anxiety can cause serious stress for both parents and kids. Most parents have to leave their little one with a caretaker at some point and, whether it’s the occasional sitter while you run errands or a daycare setting at which your drop your baby off every morning, leaving on tearful terms can feel terrible. Most babies experience some degree of separation anxiety, which can start as early as 6 or 7 months and often peaks between 10 and 18 months. If you find your baby is suddenly clingy, tearful, and upset when you leave their side, consider the tips below to help you get through the separation anxiety phase.

Recognize it

The first time your baby cries when you try to hand them to someone unfamiliar, it might catch you off guard. When they’re very young babies are usually content to be passed around to various loved ones, sometime around 6-8 months though their usually happy demeanor might change when they’re handed off. When your baby starts to show displeasure when they’re out of your hands, start to take note of the places and people that they feel comfortable with so you can keep them in their comfort zone as much as possible.

Respect their feelings

While YOU know that you’ll be right back, your baby doesn’t, and their anxious, distressed response makes sense when you think about it that way. It can certainly feel frustrating that your baby wants to be by your side at all times but it’s important to do your best to respond to their cries with empathy and reassurance rather than with annoyance. 

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Be consistent

Most experts recommend that you reassure your child before you hand them off, maintain a positive facial expression and demeanor, and give them a quick hug before leaving promptly. Even if you chose to vary this response slightly, say with an extra check in or a few extra kisses, it’s important that you leave in a consistent manner. Nothing will upset your child more than not knowing what to expect and thinking that if they cry a bit harder, or wait a bit longer, you’ll pop back in before leaving again.

Remember it’s a phase

As with all things kid-related, separation anxiety is a phase. If you’re in the thick of the tears, do your best to breathe through it. Be patient. Respond with empathy and kindness. And know that this too shall pass. 

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What helped you and your baby get through the separation anxiety phase?

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Don’t Stress! Here are 4 Tips to Help You Deal with the Separation Anxiety Phase

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. She is writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood and lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. ... More

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