Babies below the age of four months generally are okay when away from parents. They can adapt pretty well with caregivers or babysitters, as long as they are fed, kept dry and cuddled. However, things start changing when they are 4-7 months old as they start understanding the concept of object permanence. Until this time, babies don’t understand that their mom and dad still exist even after they have left the room. When the baby can’t see you, they think you’re gone for good.
The feeling and behaviour of babies whenever parents leave them, whether it’s in a play center, with a babysitter or caregiver, is called separation anxiety.
Find out How to Ease Your Child’s Separation Anxiety
A baby experiencing separation anxiety for the first time might cry and scream whenever you try to leave. This is a normal behavioural pattern seen in most babies, however, it’s understandable that it’s upsetting for you to see your child that way. This is why it is important for parents to know what they should do to calm their babies/toddlers when it happens. Read our blog post and find out how you can abate your child’s separation anxiety.
Consider the Timing
It’s not a good idea to start sending your child to a play centre or daycare at a time when they are most likely to feel anxious about their separation. This happens frequently in children between the ages of 8 months to a year. If you absolutely have to leave them in someone else’s care, try and avoid doing it at a time when he/she could get cranky, tired or hungry. The best thing to do here is to plan your departures after meal or naptime.
Gradually Do Things
You can invite the caregiver to meet your baby and play with them in your presence. This helps your child get familiar with their face and ensures they don’t feel unsafe without your company. The next thing for you to do is plan a short trip to run an errand while your baby stays with the sitter. This can serve as practice for when you have to head out for several hours. If your child is about to start going to a new daycare or play centre, you should take them for a visit and play with them there. This helps them get familiar with their surroundings and the people there too.
Be Calm and Firm
You should try and develop a ritual which you use whenever you say goodbye to your baby. These rituals can help make the partings seem less sudden. Remind them that you will be back in a while in simple terms which they will understand. Remember to be calm but firm in your goodbye. It will be reassuring for your child and also show them you are in control. However, if you seem guilty you will end up making them nervous about being away from you as it may appear as if you’re unsure about leaving them in the first place.
Never Sneak Away
Always make sure that you say goodbye properly to your child instead of sneaking away without telling them. It’s vital for them to see you leave and come back. This prevents them from thinking that you are tricking them if they aren’t watching you carefully. W know it is hard to watch your baby cry, however, it is also important for them to learn how to cope with saying goodbye to you.
Do What You Say
If you promised your child that you will be back at a specific time, for example, supper, it is important for you to keep that promise. By keeping your promise, you allow your child to become confident that you will be back once you leave. You also teach them that they will be able to make it and be absolutely fine even when you are not around.
It’s no small task leaving a child who is screaming and crying for you. This is why you will want to ensure you leave your child with a babysitter or caregiver you can trust. You can ask the caregiver/babysitter to give you a call once your child has calmed down after you leave. This will help you get an idea of the time duration of your child’s separation anxiety tantrums. By the duration of their tantrums, you will be able to understand whether the condition is getting better or worse.
The above-listed activities are aimed at establishing trust with your child. When your kid trusts you, they are going to have fewer anxieties and fears. Being as honest as you can with them should be your primary goal. When a child so young learns to trust you, they feel secure and comfortable and have fewer episodes. If you want to learn more about separation anxiety in babies and toddlers, get in touch with experienced babysitters at Jump for Joy Play Centre.