Separation Anxiety


When your infant is between the ages of 0-6 months, they can typically be held by anyone without protesting.  However, by the age of 6 months many infants do not like to be away from their parents, or being around people they are not familiar with.  Their reaction may be fear, hesitation, or being upset and crying.

As a parent, it is your job to make sure your baby feels secure. You can do this by spending quality time with them. Babies will learn to cope better with new challenges if they have lots of warm and loving experiences with their parents.  When possible, minimize the separation between you and your baby.  Keep them close and reassure them that you will not leave them.

As a parent, you can also let others know what to expect with your baby. Tell your family or friends that baby is super shy around other people and that it will take time for baby to warm up to the other person.  Do not ever force your child to be held by someone else. Do not ever force your child to give kisses and hugs to other people. By forcing these actions on your child, you can be creating a much worse situation.

We need to give our babies time to become comfortable with other people. This will take time and patience.  If you notice your baby is becoming upset with being held by another person, respond to his needs.  Hold your baby close and reassure him that all is well.  It is also important that when our babies get agitated that we stay calm.

When we see our babies start to coo and giggle with a new person, we want to praise them and give them some positive re-assurance.  “Mommy is so happy that you are smiling at Uncle Darnell!” With time, spending time with others will become much easier.  We want our babies to meet and mingle with many different people we trust. These experiences will teach our babies that we are still around and available to their needs.

If we do need to leave our babies with someone else, be consistent with our routine.  No matter their age, always tell your child that you need to leave but will be coming back very shortly.  You can use this opportunity to help teach your baby to wave good bye or hello. It also helps that if you need to leave your baby with someone for an extended period of time to choose a caregiver that your baby is familiar with.  This will make the separation much easier on both parent and baby.

Keep in mind that separation anxiety in babies is a normal part of their development.  As your baby grows, they will begin to learn concepts of going and coming as well as learning that staying with others is ok.

Adapted from Triple P Tip Sheet.tripplep logo

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