Separation Anxiety

What's Your Hurry?


If your baby has a security blanket, a special stuffed animal, or another object that makes him feel safe, by all means let him bring it to day care or have it available when the sitter arrives (and when you leave). Don't ever tease him about it or discourage his use of it. Just because your baby needs something else to feel safe, especially when you're not around, doesn't mean that you haven't done your part to nurture his sense of security. On the contrary, your baby wouldn't be able to take advantage of such a substitute if you hadn't given him a sense of security.

With any new sitter or day-care situation, give your baby time to get used to the idea before running off and "abandoning" him. Ideally, you will be leaving him with someone he knows. Arrange to have the sitter arrive at least 15 minutes early (paid, of course), or even better, have the sitter come for one or two visits while you're both there before you leave him or her alone with your baby.

In a day-care situation, plan to stay for at least half an hour on the first few days and perhaps even the entire first day. Again, try to arrange for you and your baby to have paid extended visits to the site before he has to go it alone. Then, on his first days, give your baby the opportunity and the encouragement to get involved in some activity before you go.

For both your baby's sake and your own, start small. Ease your baby into longer separations by first going on short outings: perhaps a half-hour or hour apart (or even as little as 15 minutes). This process allows both you and your baby to build trust in his caregiver in small stages. Then gradually extend your time apart until you reach the amount of time you'll regularly need.

When it comes time to go, don't try to sneak out of the house (or the day-care center). If you do, your baby will never know when you're leaving, and he may become more clingy than ever-even in situations when you're not going anywhere.

Make good-byes short, sweet, and predictable. Strive to create a parting ritual similar to your bedtime ritual. Don't insist that he stop crying before you leave. (Think what power that gives him.) Smile, offer reassuring words, give him a hug and a kiss, let him know you'll miss him, and then go already. Your baby relies on you to determine whether everything is safe, so he needs to see that you have confidence that everything will be all right. That's why warmth and smiles at parting are so important.

More on: Babies


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bringing Up Baby © 1997 by Kevin Osborn. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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