Separation Anxiety

Heather - posted on 08/06/2010 ( 5 moms have responded )

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My daughter is 4 months old and I think she has separation anxiety. Sometimes I can't even leave a room and she screams. I can't leave her with anyone.

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Debbie - posted on 08/07/2010

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its normal my son does that too!!!!!!!!! Its because they feel safe when u r around!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Melissa - posted on 08/07/2010

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My little girl would scream whenever I left a room from about 3 months until about 7 months. I couldn't take a shower unless my husband was holding her and letting her watch me. The Ergo baby carrier was a lifesaver, since I could carry her with me all the time. :) She's 8 1/2 months old now, and things are a little easier. My mom is able to watch her sometimes for an hour or so, and my husband can play with her in another room while I shower. Things get easier. :)

Renae - posted on 08/07/2010

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SA in girls usually peaks at 6mos and starts any time from 4mos. So she is right on track. In boys it usually peaks at 8mos.

I have seen mums on here give very wrong advice about SA (such as saying its manipulation) so I feel compelled to give you the right advice.

SA is a normal and necessary part of psychologically development. It occurs because the baby does not yet understand that you are still there and will come back. SA is a developmental phase and does pass. Leaving the baby to cry during this time will make it take longer to pass; going to the baby and reassuring them will make it pass quicker. SA usually passes when the baby starts to become mobile (we think that is because they can follow you so you cant get away! lol) and when they understand object permanence (ie. something still exists even if you cant see it right now).

One way of helping SA is to encourage independant play. You start independant play by sitting (or laying with a 4mo) on the floor and playing with your baby. At 4mos you could play under a mobile or other toy designed for her to try to grab at. After about 5 minutes of playing with her, you stop playing, but dont move, stay next to her while she plays. Then after a few more minutes, you start doing something, read a book, fold laundry, whatever, you are still right there next to her, but your attention is on something else. Do this several times a day for 3 days.

After 3 days, when you start your other activity, slowly move about a foot away, continue the exercise several times a day for a few more days. Every couple of days, move a little further away, 2 feet, 3 feet, but you may have to scoot along the floor because standing and walking away may scare her. When eventually you are scooting your butt to the other side of the room, the next step is to stand up. Then the next step is to stand and walk to your standing position on the other side of the room. The last step is to leave the room for 1 minute. Then 2 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 10 minutes etc. In a month or so you will be able to put her down and walk away and do something without her crying for you because she has gradually become used to playing independantly and understands that you are not far away and always come back. These concepts also help the SA phase to pass.

You can expect no more than about 20 minutes of independant play from a baby. However once they are used to it, you can go back for 10 minutes, give them something new to do, and then leave for another 20 min, allowing you to get some things done. Some lucky mums get 40 mins at a time from a 6mo using this method.

If all of this sounds like too much hard work, buy a baby sling and just take her around with you to get things done. Either way works! :)

As far as being able to leave her with someone else, there usually isn't much point trying until she is past the SA. The more time she spends with someone the more she will be happy to go to them. Most babies still cry when mum leaves no matter how used to someone they are until they are about 18mo. It is the babysitters job to do their best to distract the baby and keep their mind occupied from thinking about mum. For goodness sake dont let people push themselves on her, always make them stay back and let the baby get used to them in the safety of your arms and go to them when she is ready. (My MIL used to grab my baby and run off to another room and he would cry and I could hear her saying "no you have to get used to ME"! - crazy woman - that is not how you get a baby used to someone).

Tiffany - posted on 08/06/2010

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my son had that till about ummm.. 7months he's now 9months and still struggles with it sometimes but i read that babies dont have a sense of time and that a mintue feels like an hour kinda like when we have to wait in certain situations it seems like forever also they dont know weither or not you will come back which in a sense finding that out broke my heart so i set up jumperoos play areas etc all over the house so that he was always around me i also dont believe in letting a baby cry cause i dont agree with stressing babies so thats why i always made sure he saw me

Brittany - posted on 08/06/2010

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I would say that's pretty normal. I would encourage waiting until she gets a little bigger to loosen her grip to you though...she just wants to be reassured you're there for her forever and you're not going to leave.

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