How to cope with separation anxiety in babies and new mothers

Conversation plays a very important role in managing separation anxiety in both kids and their mothers. Being calm and consistent is the key.

working mom guilt
Separation anxiety is especially common for working women. Image courtesy; Shutterstock
Dr Aishwarya Sinha Published on: 19 May 2022, 15:38 pm IST
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Separation anxiety is something all mothers and babies face but most new mothers hesitate to talk about it or take any guidance for it. It’s almost the first psychological stress that a baby goes through in his or her life. So, it is imperative that we stay very cautious and gentle, when it comes to handling separation anxiety. While it is self-diagnosable and self-treatable, we need to talk about it and understand it completely.

Ways to figure if your baby is facing separation anxiety

The earliest bouts of separation anxiety in a baby can be encountered as early as four to seven months of age, when the tiny babies develop object permanence. During this period, their senses are developing to the extent that they realize that people exist, even when they are out of sight. Hence, they might get very anxious when they don’t see their mother and might cry until she is nearby again.

separation anxiety for kids and new mothers
Separation anxiety is something all mothers and babies face. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Between 8 months to 1 year, the babies tend to grow and become more independent, yet the separation anxiety might still develop and the child might feel agitated and upset when the mother or father tries to leave. Some kids even experience it a little later, especially when they are going to pre-school, and they might end up crying loudly, clinging to the body and resisting attention from others too.

Also, read: Dear moms, here’s why you must make time for yourself without feeling guilty

How long does separation anxiety last?

It can vary depending upon the child and how the parents respond to it. In some rare cases, separation anxiety can last from infancy through high school years and if not attended properly, can even lead to anxiety disorder in some kids.

For mothers, it’s a mixed emotion. While some mothers feel nice to see the child is equally attached to them, others might even feel guilty if their child is suffering from it. It usually happens if she is going to work. However, always remember that leaving your child on their own, at times, will give them a chance to develop coping skills and independence.

Separation anxiety in kids
Babies sometimes need more attention and care. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How to deal with separation anxiety

Conversation plays a very important role in managing separation anxiety in both kids and their mothers. Make sure to be calm and consistent, speak to you child, and reassure him/her that you are around them. Give your full attention to their actions and if you promise something to your child, make sure to fulfill it. It is very important that your child develops confidence.

Start to practice being apart from each other, initially for a shorter duration, and then gradually manage time for both yourself and your child. Introduce your child to new people and places, and attentively listen to your child and speak about their experiences.

All this will develop a bond of trust between you and your child, and you will also be able to understand any uncomfortable situation your child is facing without you

When to see a doctor?

For most kids, the anxiety of being apart from their mother passes without any need for medical attention. But if you have a concern, please speak to your doctor. Do not ignore it, as your medical health provider can give you more personal guidance. Always remember, mental health is the priority of healthy well-being, for you and your little one.

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About the Author
Dr Aishwarya Sinha Dr Aishwarya Sinha

Dr Aishwarya Sinha Consultant-Gynecologist and Obstetrician Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Faridabad

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