SEPARATION ANXIETY & 4 WAYS TO DEAL WITH IT

SEPARATION ANXIETY & 4 WAYS TO DEAL WITH IT

Separation anxiety is one of the most common causes of sleep regression in babies. Read on to understand separation anxiety, how it happens and what you can do to help your baby’s sleep.

WHAT IS SEPARATION ANXIETY

Separation anxiety is a normal developmental stage in babies where they fear being away from their parents or primary caregiver. Separation anxiety is the clinginess of babies or toddlers to their parents and varies WIDELY between children.  

HOW DOES HAPPEN?

Although some babies never experience separation anxiety, most babies go through it.  Typically starts in babies around 6-8 months. During this time, babies feel safe when parents are around and unsafe when left alone or with unfamiliar faces for the shortest time. By the age of 2, symptoms begin to subside as they understand that you will return. 

Separation anxiety differs from separation anxiety disorder. Unlike normal clinginess, separation anxiety disorder is a mental disorder that requires medical attention. Separation anxiety disorder is the immersed fear of losing or being separated from a loved one. Here, children show more physical and adverse signs like stomach aches, headaches, chest pain, diarrhea, depression, anxiety disorder, nightmares, palpitations, and panic attacks when left alone. Separation anxiety disorder is not only in babies or toddlers but can progress into adulthood. We will talk more in-depth in another blog. 

Tell me if you can relate:

After a long day with your baby, it is time to put him to bed. The moment you lay her down, she wakes up and starts crying for you to pick her up, and once you do, she stops crying. This scenario is a perfect example that your baby has separation anxiety. Although it is a normal stage of development in babies and toddlers, there are ways to ease sleep regression related to separation anxiety.

One peculiar sign of separation anxiety in your baby is sleep regression. Here are four ways to help your baby sleep if he has separation anxiety.

1. Create a consistent bedtime routine

To ensure your child has an uninterrupted sleep at night, you should create a bedtime routine and strictly adhere to it. Altering your baby’s pattern makes them all Greek to your motives. Let’s say bedtime is 8 pm. Ensure the baby is always ready for bed at 8 pm. Creating a routine will accustom him to timing and intentions. You can also establish pre-bedtime rituals like singing a particular song and reading bedtime stories. The more your baby understands your motives, the more he builds trust that you exist somewhere and will return. There is no perfect routine. The goal is to stay consistent.

2. Establish an enabling sleep environment.

How does your baby feel about his bedroom? A child’s room should represent happy memories and emerge positive feelings. A sleep-enabling room can be created by spending happy times in the room during the day. Playing with their favorite toys and watching their favorite shows are good examples of creating an enabling room. You can also decorate the room with their favorite images, lighting, etc. Never use your child’s room as punishment by sacking them off to their rooms after any wrong deed. Doing so will make the child afraid of being there alone and will eventually affect sleep at night.

3. Inform your child that it’s time for bedtime.

Never sneak out of the room. Instead, greet and say goodnight with a sweet kiss. Again, this makes your baby aware of your intentions and makes him aware it’s only temporary. Sneaking out of the room makes your child sensitive to your movement, knowing you will vanish if he lets his guard down. Sneaking out builds mistrust and uncertainty, making it worse to sleep alone at night.

4. Show a healthy balance between affection and independence

Don’t be afraid to show love and affection toward your baby. The goal is not to overdo it. This tip can be tricky because sentiment can make your child clingy, but ignoring him can also make him feel rejected. The goal here is to find the right balance. You can practice being separate during the daytime by encouraging him to play alone while reassuring him that you are still around for him. The autonomy your child has during the day has an impact on his independence at night.

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