Surviving Separation Anxiety

Surviving Separation AnxietySeparation anxiety is a normal part of infancy, toddlerhood and preschool years; however that doesn’t make it any less torturous for everyone involved. Surviving separation anxiety takes a few tried and true techniques and coping skills.

Separation anxiety usually rears its head at around 9 months when your baby becomes aware of object permanence. That is, she realizes that you still exist even when you are not present. And if you exist without being with her, she’s upset. Separation anxiety can escalate throughout toddlerhood and continue into the preschool years as well. For the worst cases, spending four or five years dealing with unpleasant good-byes can be stressful. But for most, the brunt of separation anxiety subsides by the time a child enters elementary school.

Your child’s extreme reaction to your departure is truly a sign of a meaningful and deep connection – one that your child is not ready to sever physically for even a moment. And the bond can be even stronger for breastfed babies. Remember that when you question yourself about your exit strategies or whether or not you should ever leave your child again. Because the cries, screams and full-on tantrums are enough to make any parent want to cave.

But the experts say, never cave. Standing firm is the key to surviving separation anxiety. Your child will eventually realize that you’re going to leave no matter what she does, and sometimes that relieves immediate anxiety and reduces separation anxiety overall. If anything, you can at least feel OK about proceeding with your plans – whether that’s leaving for work, going to a PTA meeting or having a much-needed night-off from parenting duty. You are not ruining your child by leaving, you are setting appropriate boundaries.

Try these tips for surviving separation anxiety in the early years:

  • Leave after a feeding or nap so your baby will not be dealing with intense emotions while tired or hungry.
  • Develop a consistent routine for your departure and try to avoid any unexpected elements that may throw your baby into a tizzy. Little ones do better when they know and understand what to expect.
  • Create a meaningful and attentive but short good-bye routine such as a hug, kiss, wave and reminder that mommy always comes back.
  • Practice separation before you do it for an extended period of time or start a new routine. For example, if you are returning to work when your baby is a year old, start by leaving her with caregivers for a few hours at a time several months in advance.
  • If you don’t leave your baby often or if you are leaving for a longer period than usual, talk to your child about what is going to happen well before you leave. Build anticipation and excitement for the fun your child is going to have while you are away.
  • Whenever possible stick to a few well-liked childcare providers such as a regular babysitter or grandparents. Always being looked after by new people can be unnerving to children.
  • Encourage childcare providers to stick with your routine and have familiar objects around if your baby is not staying in your home.
  • For older children, explain when you will return in their own terms such as before lunchtime or after 2 sleeps.
  • Always say goodbye to your child. Sneaking out may make you feel better but it creates a lack of trust and may exacerbate future separation anxiety.

Sources: Healthy Children, Help Guide and Parents

Ways Your Baby Shows Love

When Valentine’s Day rolls around, you may long for some extra affection from your loved ones. And when you have a new little loved one who you nurture day and night, you may wish for some extra love there too. While your baby may not be doling out the hugs and kisses or signing Valentine’s Day cards quite yet, rest assured she’s showing her love in many many ways. You may not even realize the ways your baby shows love but we’re enlightening you to the love today.

Ways Your Baby Shows LoveYour baby knows you – There’s nothing like you in all the world and your baby is keenly aware of it. In fact, your baby can sniff you out among other people even before her vision has fully developed. Your unique scent, along with the smell of your breast milk, makes you highly recognizable to your baby. That plus your soft touch and beautiful face are ways she knows you intimately. This personal connection is a bond of love.

Your baby mimics you – Have you ever noticed that your baby tries to replicate your facial expressions? It may come in the form of silly faces, smiles or moving her lips to try to repeat your sounds. Copying is the strongest form of flattery and in this case it’s because your baby loves you so.

Your baby misses you – It may break your heart that your baby cries when you leave but it’s only because she loves you and wants to be with you. Even when she cries upon your return it’s because she’s reminded that you were gone. So let her express her emotional connection and know that separation anxiety is a normal part of a loving relationship.

Your baby smiles at you – Those precious baby smiles are always something to celebrate. And when they turn to giggles and downright belly laughs, they are even more fun to receive. You make your baby so happy, she laughs out of love.

Your baby talks to you – Your babbling baby is actually trying to tell you something. In her own words she’s saying she loves you. She feels comfortable enough to chatter away and she does believe it makes sense. So accept her loving words and respond back to engage in a conversation.

Your baby reaches for you – When you’re wanted or needed your baby will let you know. At first it’s only with cries but as she matures your baby will reach for you to show her desire to be held or cuddled. She may even give you little kisses to be close and feel your touch.

Your baby seeks your attention – Whether it’s during nursing or when she’s at play, your baby wants to know you’re there and you’re watching her. She may signal for you through milky suckling or crawl away and return to ensure you haven’t gone far. It’s just her way of showing you’re her safety net.

Your baby stares at you – When your baby gazes at you intently, she’s learning your every feature, expression and movement. She loves everything about you and wants to know you intimately. Embrace your baby’s loving stares and reciprocate with meaningful eye contact.

Cherish these ways your baby shows love! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sources: Babycenter and Parenting

Signs Your Baby Loves You

Falling in love with your baby is not hard to do, but feeling the same affection back isn’t as obvious.  Despite their lack of ability to give you big hugs and kisses and say “I love you, mom,” babies show their love everyday.  You just have to recognize what they are telling you.  Today we’re sharing signs your baby loves you just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Your baby knows your voice.  Your baby began hearing your voice around the mid-point of your pregnancy.  So it’s no wonder that the sound of you talking is the most delightful melody to his ears.  He would rather hear your voice than anything else in the world and he will turn to you when he hears it.

Your baby opens his mouth when you are near.  Your scent is also completely familiar to your baby.  No matter how many days it has been since you bathed, your baby loves the way you smell and will open his mouth to breathe you in.  Your breast milk also smells wonderful to your baby and he can identify it among other women’s breast milk.  Plus, if you are breastfeeding, you always smell like breast milk to your baby.

Your baby mimics your expressions.  Your baby may not be able to see well at birth, but over time he will take to staring at you to soak in all of your beautiful features.  He is learning you just like you go gaga over every inch of Signs baby loves you__1452885465_50.243.196.179him.  Once his vision clears, your baby will try to emulate your facial expressions, which is a true sign that he is fascinated by your every move.

Your baby cries when you are gone.  Separation anxiety may feel dreadful for you, but it’s actually a sign that your baby loves you so much, he can’t stand to be apart.  Usually separation anxiety doesn’t set in until later in infancy, and the more you are separated early in the life, the less severe it will be.  But rather than feeling guilty and regretting leaving your baby, take separation anxiety as a sign that your baby loves you enough to get that upset.

Your baby lights up when you enter a room.  Your baby may not always notice you are gone, but he will certainly notice when you’re back.  Once he sees you his face may light up with elation.  He may even reach for you or cry to be picked up because he longs for your touch.

Your baby smiles and laughs.  Babies typically give their first voluntary smiles out of joy at around two months of age.  One day, out of the blue, your baby will find all those silly noises and faces you’ve been making absolutely hilarious.  He’ll smile for a few months and then start to giggle.  Giggles become laughs until he is full on chortling at you on a regular basis.  If ever you wondered if you have a talent for comedy, look to your baby for reassurance that you are hysterical.

Your baby talks to you.  All that baby babble may sound like gibberish to you but your baby is really telling you some important things.  He feels very comfortable with you and he wants to talk to you like he hears you doing with others.  While his words haven’t formed with any clarity yet, babbling is an essential part of language development.  Make a point to expressively talk back to your baby to let him know you, too, are interested in having a loving conversation.

Your baby looks for you and checks in.  As your baby becomes more mobile adventurous, he will slowly start to leave your side in new situations.  However, he may glance back at you periodically for reassurance.  Give him a smile and encouraging nod to let him know you are there for him and proud of his independence.  He may also come back to you periodically to “touch base” and then venture out again.

Your baby develops an attachment to another object.  An older baby or toddler may find comfort in a “lovey” also known as a transitional object.  He uses it as a replacement for you, his most beloved.  When you aren’t around, or even when you are, he holds the object to feel closeness to something else he loves.  This is very normal and another sign your baby loves you.

We hope you and your baby have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

How to Deal with Separation Anxiety

How to Deal with Separation AnxietySeparation anxiety is a normal and healthy part of infancy, toddlerhood and early childhood.  Although it is stressful for everyone, teaching your children how to overcome adversity and that life goes on without you around is a vital lesson for their future.  Today we’re exploring why separation anxiety occurs and how to deal with separation anxiety in your baby.

Separation anxiety usually begins in infancy around 7 or 8 months of age when your baby realizes that you exist without one another.  At this time babies realize when their parents are not around and begin to feel abandoned.  Yes, that seems heartbreaking for both you and your baby, but of course they don’t realize that you will always come back.  Separation anxiety usually rears its head again in toddlerhood and even during preschool years at different stages of a child’s psychological development.

The best ways to deal with separation anxiety include acknowledging your baby’s fears, giving her a heads up and never showing your own anxiety about the situation.  Expecting your baby not to feel separation anxiety is unreasonable so you should do everything you can to ease the negative feelings.

First, try to keep things very consistent for your child when you are away.  If possible, leave her in her own environment and ensure your caregiver keeps a similar schedule and routine to yours.  Talk your baby or toddler through what is going to happen several days before it occurs to get her used to the idea that someone else will be around.  Speak enthusiastically about the fun you’ll have with the caregiver and that you can’t wait to hear all about it when you return.

Like other major changes in your baby’s life, you’ll want to gradually introduce separation.  Whether you are returning to work or not, it’s a good idea to occasionally leave your baby with a caregiver by the time she is six months old.  This early start to teaching your baby that parents sometimes leave but they always come back is crucial to smoother transitions in the future.

Begin with a familiar caregiver, such as a grandparent or close friend that your baby knows already.  Then proceed to less familiar babysitters and nannies as necessary.  If your child will be going to daycare, ask the facility if you can leave your child for several shorter days before you actually head back to work full time.  This will help your baby become more comfortable with a new environment than being tossed in for 9 hours the first day.

Many parents make the mistake of sneaking away while their child isn’t watching them to avoid a meltdown.  While this may make you feel better, your child will surely notice you are gone and have a much worse response, which you’re leaving your caregiver to deal with alone.  Tricking your baby doesn’t build trust or confidence either.  Instead, say a short, confident goodbye and always be cheerful.  Never show your child that you, too, are sad to leave.  This sends mixed messages and invites a breakdown on their end too.  Don’t say long, drawn-out goodbyes.  A quick hug, kiss and wave should do it.  Instruct your caregiver to divert your baby’s attention immediately so you can leave without having to look back.

If it helps your child, leave something of yours for your baby to embrace in your absence.  An article of clothing, a photograph or even a picture you’ve drawn for her works great.  Some children like to hear from their parents while they are gone, especially if it’s for multiple days.  Check in briefly to let your baby know you love her and you’ll be back soon.  For other kids, hearing from their parents makes them upset so in that case, avoid contact but do touch base with your caregiver for an update.

Separation anxiety is a stage like many others that your baby will experience.  It’s a sign of maturity and awareness, even if it is painful in the moment.  Employ these tactics to deal with separation anxiety to make parting easier for everyone.