Infant Separation Anxiety – What New Moms Should Know About?
Infant separation anxiety starts affecting virtually all infants at about 6-9 month age. At this age infants get attached to their primary caregivers and start understanding object permanence concept. In their eyes if they don’t see you for a moment it means you are gone forever as they are still to grasp the concept of time.
Some experts believe that your child’s temperament plays an important role in infant separation anxiety progression. If your child is generally hard to soothe, has trouble establishing a normal sleep pattern and is cared for exclusively by one caregiver, the manifestation of infant separation anxiety might be somewhat stronger.
There’s a lot you can do to prepare your child for the separation. Timing for the first separation is crucial, you don’t want your child to be going through a major change in their lives like weaning, family move or else. Do not plan any first time away while your child is sick or teething if possible. Your own emotions and feeling are extremely important as infants can sense your emotional state and it can aggravate infant separation anxiety. Make good-byes short and sweet; do not prolong going away longer than necessary. Always say good bye and reassure that you are coming back. To make infant separation anxiety easier on your baby provide his favorite comfort item like a blanket, toy or your own unwashed nightgown or a t-shirt as your scents could be extremely soothing for your baby.
Separation anxiety in toddlers is also very common and can be carried over almost through the age of 3. Make it a fun and positive experience for both you and your child. Build anticipation with older toddlers like describing how much fun they are going to have while being with a babysitter or at preschool. Role playing and reading books with their favorite cartoon characters saying good-byes can help your toddler overcome a fear of separation as he learns you are coming back.
While infant separation anxiety is a normal stage in a child’s development, some children who have difficulties adjusting to a change of routine, new surroundings and new figures in their life might develop a serious condition, know as separation anxiety disorder. If your child does not thrive and the symptoms of separation anxiety continue for more that 4 weeks in older school age children, talk to your pediatrician for evaluation and assessment.