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Helping your baby with Separation Anxiety

As babies grow and develop it’s only natural that they want to explore the many sights and sounds in their world and as parents and health care professionals it’s our responsibility to help them achieve this. Confidence and independence are two special qualities to be nurtured.

Separation anxiety can develop as early as three months and continue through the toddler stage and beyond. We need to understand how it develops, why, and how you can help your child overcome it.

I can only speak from professional experience, but I believe it stems from those all-important early weeks when introducing some routine and structure encourages your baby to self sooth when sleeping and a little space at play time during the day. As your baby’s vision develops her world suddenly becomes so much more exciting. Every day is a learning curve full of new experiences. Time spent sitting in a bouncy chair or under a play gym is giving your baby the opportunity to hear, see and touch different sounds, colours and textures.

Hearing your voice and knowing that you are close by is very reassuring to your baby. However, by encouraging a little independence slowly over time, she will be very happy and content to sit and play by herself, without any feelings of anxiety or abandonment.

This can also be challenging as your baby gets older. You may find that she gets very upset if she gets picked-up or left in the care of friends and family that she does not recognise or has not seen for a while. While this is totally normal behaviour… to avoid this situation, keep your baby close to you and stay with her until she feels confident to go to a friend or family member for a cuddle or explore a new environment.

It is always a good idea to let your friends or family know in advance, avoiding your baby becoming distressed. This is just one of many stages that all babies will go through so encourage a little independence right from the start, then contented babies will grow to become confident happy children.

How can you help your baby?

Nurture your baby’s independence and confidence.

Practice brief separations.

Cuddle and comfort your baby if she upset or scared.

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