It is not easy to go to work or elsewhere, leaving your baby crying because you go out. However, this is a stage that all children pass through and your main goal is to help your child get over it.
At around seven or eight months, babies enter a stage known as separation anxiety. When they are very young they smile at practically everyone who caresses or holds them; however, from this age they only want to be held by close family members or people they know and will cry whenever these people leave them. Babies are yet to develop the notion of time and every time they see you go away they worry that you will not return. They fear that anyone out of their field of vision may have disappeared forever.
This stage can stretch out up to the age of three, but with patience and a few tips, parents can successfully start to socialise their children and stop them from being so upset when they are separated.
- Parents need to be strong and to accustom their child little by little to being away from them. No matter how much the child cries when you go out, you need to stick to the plan, making sure that the baby is well cared for.
- Don't worry about your child having a hard time; this is the most common stage he has to pass through. Gradually your child will become used to the situation and enjoy the company of new people.
- Leave your child alone for short periods of time so he can see that his parents will come back shortly. You should also explain when you will be back and never lie, because this will frustrate and distress your child more during the wait. The same applies if you leave in secret; the result will be much worse.
- Before leaving your child alone with the carer, it's best to spend a day all together so the child can get used to the person and see that his parents also know him. The person should be understanding, caring and patient so that your baby feels as happy as possible. If the person is a close relative, such as a grandparent, all the better. If you are leaving your baby in childcare, the transition may be easier as he will be surrounded by other children of his age. However, be prepared for a lot of crying in the first few days.
- Don't make a drama or drag out the situation when your child starts to cry. It's best to say goodbye calmly and happily, give your child a kiss and leave quickly. It is very important that you don't back down.
- Give your child freedom and encourage his self-confidence. It is important to let your child explore the house, experiment and be alone for short periods. If your child is confident, it will be easier to be apart.
- Set limits and let your child know that he can't spend the whole time being held by his parents or following them around the house, to the bathroom or when cooking, for example.