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Separation Anxiety

I have been working with lots of babies and toddlers recently that have been experiencing this and unfortunately it can and does affect sleep.

So what is separation anxiety?

It is a normal developmental stage that all babies will go through, some are affected more than others and it can affect little ones into toddlerhood. It usually peaks at around age 8-9 months old and you may notice that when you leave your baby to go to another room, they become distressed, anxious, may cry and try to follow you. This is because your baby does not know that you are coming back again. Due to this your baby will want to stay close to you, so they feel safe and secure. Part of this development is ‘object permanence’ this is when a baby starts to understand the concept that when a person or item disappears, they still exist. Due to this baby’s realise their parent or carer has left them and they get upset because they miss them and want them to come back. Before this stage baby’s think that if a person or object disappears they are are gone forever! So it can be a very disruptive stage, whilst babies adjust to all these new feelings and sleep is often affected as bedtime is a time of separation for babies and toddlers.

How can you help your child?

  • Playing games such as peek a boo

  • Playing hide and seek

  • Hiding toys under a scarf and helping your baby to find them

  • Practice saying goodbye, leaving the room momentarily and then returning

  • Read books that include lifting the flaps

  • Lots of reassurance and cuddles

  • Always say goodbye when leaving your baby and never sneak off

  • A calm relaxing bedtime routine with lots of cuddles

  • Introduce a comforter if safe to do so

  • A photo of parents beside the cot/bed

  • An item of your clothing to cuddle for older babies

  • Try not to change too much around their sleep routine during this time

  • Do any changes gradually

Remember this stage will pass and if you feel you would like some guidance with sleep, just book a free 15 minute call with me to discuss options of working with me.


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