Separation anxiety is common and signifies a very healthy phase in the development of your child. There will ultimately come a time in your life when you will have to leave your baby behind to go to work or even on holiday. Some kids can handle the separation well, while some others remain weepy and feel trauma because they don’t see you around.
However, the child will learn that you leaving her alone is not a traumatic event. If she is left in the company of familiar caregivers and familiar surroundings, she will feel more comfortable with your absence. Here are ten tips that would help you reduce separation anxiety in babies.
1. Don’t go on a long break suddenly
Separation anxiety can hit babies very hard. Therefore, it will be wise not to leave them for long periods of time suddenly. Start by leaving your baby in the company of other caregivers for an hour in the beginning and slowly let them accommodate to this routine. If you go away on a vacation suddenly, your baby will be visibly disturbed.
2. Familiar environment helps
You may be tempted to leave your baby at a friend’s place or with her grandma. However, if she has never been to these places before and doesn’t feel comfortable there, she will feel overwhelmed. This will make her even more anxious.
3. Familiar people are always better
Whenever you are moving out, ensure that the baby is left in the company of someone she is familiar with. The babysitter should first get comfortable with the baby in your presence and then be allowed to care for her when you leave. If she is surrounded by strangers, she will feel very anxious and probably start crying.
4. Keep calling her
You should video call your baby to let her know that you care for her. If a video call is not possible, call her and let her hear your voice. This will reassure her that you are somewhere near her and she will feel comforted. If you just leave her altogether, she will feel sad and disheartened.
5. Don’t leave her while she is sleeping
If you ever have to leave the child, make sure that you leave in front of her eyes. Some women leave the kids after putting them to sleep. When they wake up, they find their mothers are not around. As you are their primary source of nourishment, love, and protection, the child will instantly feel traumatized and this will have a very bad impact on her.
6. Don’t force independence on your child
This is a critical thing you should remember about your child. You don’t have to force independence on them. Children are naturally very attached to their parents, especially to their mothers. They feel secure when they are around. If a child isn’t ready to move away from you, don’t force it on her. Let her take her time and gently introduce independence to her.
7. Talk to the baby
You may believe that the baby is too small to talk to and therefore, she won’t understand anything you say. However, babies are always in-sync with the emotions of their mother and they can sense security or reassurance in your voice. The way you speak to your baby will determine whether she feels comfortable with your absence or not.
8. Give the child a toy
A blanket or a soft toy often mimic human contact for the kids, helping them feel secure when you are not around. Hugging the toy could help the child cope when you are not around. Most children develop this kind of attraction to a toy. Make sure that the child doesn’t turn it into an unhealthy obsession.
9. Don’t look back
Once you have said goodbye to the baby, don’t turn around and look back at her. The tears will eventually subside and she will either get distracted or sleep. If you look back, she will feel even more emotional and things could go downhill from there.
10. Don’t leave the baby alone too early
Most babies don’t like to be left alone in the early days, especially during the first six months. If the child is habitual of staying with other caregivers, she can manage your leave better. However, if she has only been with you, don’t be harsh on your child and delay your plans till she is at least 6 months old. If she has recently weaned, she may feel more trauma than usual.
These were ten tips to help handle separation anxiety better. Note that different kids have a different coping mechanism. Don’t force your child in a situation she is not comfortable in.