Separation anxiety is a normal stage of development for babies (and let’s be honest, older kids as well), and how each baby deals with it varies greatly. Some kids breeze through this phase without a second thought, while other babies find it very difficult to be separated from Mom and Dad. This stage can also be very overwhelming for the parents. Whether you just need a little break from your stage-5 clinger, or mama needs to head back to work, or it’s simply that you want your baby to bond to close family and friends, there are many ways to your baby work through this new developmental leap.
1. Warm Them Up
Before dropping your little one off for an all-day play date with their grandparents, start with smaller increments of time. Start with an hour here and there to run errands and work up to longer periods of time. Your kiddo needs to get used to you leaving, and also the fact that you always come back to get them. If you are hiring a new caregiver, you can also prepare your baby with some warm up time before heading back to work after the summer or maternity leave.
2. Say Goodbye Properly
It might feel easiest to sneak out while your babe isn’t looking, but this certainly wont help with their separation issues. Instead of mama vanishing into thin air, a proper goodbye will ensure your little one know you are leaving, and in time, realize you are also coming back. A quick kiss and hug and “goodbye, see you soon, I love you” will suffice- no need to draw it out.
3. Stick To Your Guns
Of course if it’s work your heading to, turning back and grabbing your baby and canceling your plans isn’t an option. But if it’s a hair appointment or something else that has you dropping your baby off with a caregiver, don’t throw the plans out of the window at the first sign of a fuss. Your baby will probably have stopped crying before you’ve even reached your destination and turned their attention to something else.
4. Stay Positive
Remember, our children look to us for comfort. So if mama is having a melt down, then it will do nothing to ease their anxiety. Stay positive and remind them how much fun they are going to have with their caregiver. If it’s too hard to hold it together then consider having your partner or someone else handle the drop off.
5. Keep Encouraging Independence
If you little one is old enough to move around independently, keep encouraging their independence by letting them move around from room to room (safely) without you hovering. This is the start to them being comfortable without you being right by their side. If they want to be held all the time, encourage them crawl or walk by turning it into a game of chase, or “I’m going to get you.” These simple steps will help encourage them to function without you always being next to them.
6. Remember It’s A Phase
While this stage can be very draining for us as parents, remember it is just a phase. It is something you will, and can, work through together. Another way of looking at it, is that you have a strong and healthy bond with your baby! Keep on mama, and don’t give up!