Your baby starts to cry when you go to the other room. You can’t seem to put her down at all these days. It sounds like you may be in the midst of separation anxiety. It is a very common developmental stage that many babies go through between 8-14 months. Some experience it a little more often and severely than others. And it may surprise you to hear there is a correlation between sleep and separation anxiety.
I find that children who sleep well, take proper naps and get a solid night sleep are less prone to bouts of separation anxiety because they are well rested.We all know, if we are not feeling rested, we tend to be a little quick to anger and are unable to regulate our emotions well. Our children feel the same. So, it makes sense that a baby who is not sleeping well might be a little clingier through the day, might be quick to cry over the littlest things at certain points in the day. Furthermore, babies who have honed thier skills and abilities around going to sleep on their own, are much more confident with the independence and experience less separation anxiety.
The first step is to have a good look at your child’s sleep schedule and make sure they are getting the sleep they need. Another thing to do is to practice peek-a-boo. I know it sounds silly but when babies are learning, they don’t always understand that when things leave their sight, they don’t disappear permanently. That ís why they tend to cry as soon as you walk out of the room. They don’t yet understand that just because they can’t see you doesn’t mean you do not exist anymore. By practicing peek-a-boo and walking out of the room, they learn that Mommy is still here. It will teach your child that just because you’re gone doesn’t mean you are not coming back. That ís a good thing to practice at any age.
If you need to go to the bathroom or you have to answer the telephone, it is not the end of the world if your child starts to cry when you do that. Because the more you cater to this, the more it typically occurs. If every time you take a step to leave, he starts to cry and so you do not leave, it reinforces the behaviour. He learns that all he has to do to keep her in the room is start to cry and she’ll never leave.That ís definitely not the behavior you want to try to encourage. I always tell parents that you are the parent, so you get to set the rules and boundaries. Your child will follow your lead.
Now, if you are about to start sleep training and you are worried your baby is going through some separation anxiety, then an “in the room” approach will be best because you can be by the crib side. This can be comforting to a lot of parents and many babies as well.
So don’t let separation anxiety delay you from giving your child the gift of sleep. Your child will not only sleep much better, you will likely notice the separation anxiety improves as well.