Is there anything I can do to reduce the anxiety that my baby experiences every time I leave him? It is so heart sore to walk away from that crying face.

Helping your baby cope with separation anxiety is an important life skill that he is going to need a lot in his life.

The first step is to be very careful in the choosing of the babysitter. This person needs to be very, very patient and kind to your baby. Make sure that they understand how you would like them to handle the crying, and explain that you want the baby to receive all the comfort he needs while you are out, even though that may be quite tough and demanding for the sitter. Arrange for the babysitter to arrive about half an hour before you are due to leave so that the baby can get used to her presence. Have them play a game together while you are still there. Be completely relaxed if the baby refuses to play with the babysitter. Babies are very clever, and it won’t take baby long to figure out that getting engrossed in a game with the babysitter is a signal for you to go. However, if you set the game up and discuss it in a fun way, the chances are that the baby will play with the babysitter after you have left.

Try not to leave baby when he is tired or grouchy. It is worth an extra bit of nap time to try and make him less miserable at the time when you leave. If he is sick or off colour, and you are obliged to go out anyway, then you will have to accept that he will probably be very unhappy about this. Resist the urge to slip out. He is likely to be so unhappy and panic stricken if he suddenly finds that you are gone and it’s unexpected. Instead, tell him about ten minutes before you leave that you will be going out. Accept his misery calmly, and cuddle him as much as he wants. Tell him that you love him, and that you know he is unhappy, but that you will be home again.

Even if he is really unhappy, make the leaving fun and easy. Use a catch phrase like ‘see you later, alligator’ or make up one of your own. It is vital that you keep your feelings of sadness and guilt well hidden, as baby will spot any unhappiness on your part very quickly. Make a fuss of baby with a kiss and a cuddle, and then leave without drawing things out. Repeat that you will be back, and then leave. Resist the temptation to pop back and check – that will cause renewed sadness and also some confusion.

If baby is struggling with this problem, it may be worth keeping outings short for the time being. It may be worth phoning the sitter after an hour or so, and if baby still hasn’t settled, then be grateful for the hour and go home. Things will improve and it is not worth that much unhappiness.

Remind yourself that all too soon baby will be all too happy to leave you and you may long for these days when you were the centre of your baby’s world and he really wanted you to know that! +27 (0)81 885 4683 

*Important : The information provided is for information purposes only. No medical diagnosis or prescription can be inferred or is implied. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.

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