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Is DD's separation anxiety my fault? Have I 'given' it to her? :(

(29 Posts)
emeraldgirl1 Thu 17-Oct-13 09:43:43

DD (7m) has never been the kind of baby you can easily put down... and now at 7m she is starting to show signs of real separation anxiety, crying when I leave the room, not letting DH feed her if I am there as an option etc... It is hard but I have been assuming it is a little bit just her personality at the moment and a little bit of proper separation anxiety kicking in at this age.

FWIW she is INCREDIBLY smiley and engaged with my friends and complete strangers alike, she is happy and interested in people AS LONG AS I AM THERE and (preferably) holding her...

So I hadn't really thought it was a problem.

But clearly lots of my friends and acquaintances do!!!

I have an ante-natal group of 11 other mums, ALL of whom can happily leave their babies/pass their babies around when we have meet-ups... so the mums can have a few minutes break/chat while someone else holds the baby or (now that they are getting bigger) pop the baby down on a rug to stare at play with the other babies for a while.

I can't do this. DD tolerates it for about 6 seconds and then the face crumples.

People are commenting that I should just leave her to cry... they haven't heard the way DD can cry!!! Full-throttle, head-back, purple-faced ROAR. Which I don't think is fair on DD, on the person trying to hold her, or on the other babies. So when she starts to cry, I pick her up. Looks are passed amongst the other mums. I get the impression that some of them think I am trying to prevent DD 'mingling'; and what upset me last week was that one of them said I am 'giving' DD separation anxiety sad

I am SO keen for her to be a sociable little thing, which is why I am so thrilled when she beams at people, waves at them and generally interacts - from her safe distance. But I am starting to worry that I should be pushing her out into the world more. We do a couple of baby groups each week and she loves them but I don't take her to play groups where she could 'play' with other babies - should I try this?? I do meet up with other friend who have babies and DD beams happily at the babies; I don't think she is anti-social but I am getting so paranoid sad

A cousin of DH's commented the other day that DD seems a 'mummy's girl' and that she seems 'very dependent' on me... well, she is 7m old!!! I thought they were meant to be dependent?! And I honestly feel as if I have responded to DD's need for personal space. A while ago she was very scared of strangers but I just rode it out, never forced her to interact with anyone, and now she is happy as Larry to beam at strangers in the shops etc. So I think we will ride out this separation anxiety too??

But is it my fault, in a way?

I do endless peekaboo etc...

Is there more I could do?

I feel as if people are judging me (which is fine) and my lovely cheery baby (which is not fine sad as I think babies are all different?)

Any advice?

Bumpsadaisie Thu 17-Oct-13 14:07:20

Goodness, some people are so ignorant of the basic stages of psychological development (i.e. all those people who have told you about rods and backs etc).

This is a totally normal stage, starting at around the age your DD is. In fact she is starting it on the early side, so you could even say she is precocious! grin

It would be more worrying if she DIDN'T have separation anxiety. This would mean she hadn't developed a secure attachment to you, which is a disaster, in psychological development terms.

You can expect it to get worse before it gets better, and to be heightened at times when she is teething or ill. They finally grow out of it somewhere on the other side of three years old, by which time they are mature enough to understand separations and not be fazed by them. Until they can walk, they will cry as soon as you leave the room. When they are walking confidently and understanding more, you will start to find that you can say you are just going downstairs to get your tea and that you will be back "in a minute" - and they might be happy to stay put on their own (for a short time).

The best way to create a confident and secure and sociable child is to be sympathetic to their separation anxiety rather than expecting them to overcome it well before they are ready. Never "sneak off" without saying goodbye - its easier on you as you don't see them cry, but disturbing for the baby, who learns that mum might just disappear without them knowing; you will actually make them more clingy if you do this.

You don't create sociability in an infant or young toddler by thrusting them into social settings. Let them feel secure first, and the sociability follows when they are older toddlers/preschoolers.

Enjoy your DD x

emeraldgirl1 Thu 17-Oct-13 14:15:27

Thank you bumpsadaisie!

Can I ask advice about childcare in this situation? I have a lovely mothers help starting with me three mornings a week and am hoping that I will be able to leave DD with her for an hour or two a time eventually while I work (upstairs)

I am planning a bit of a lead-in, plenty of occasions where I get the mothers help to join in playing, come with us to the shops etc, so DD gets used to her.

But will it make DD's anxiety worse, do you think, if I try to leave her for short periods?

She is ok with eg my mum now after several weeks of practise!! I think it has to be good for her to have other carers (?) but I am no expert! The last thing I want is to make her even more stressed about me not being there!

I was thinking of just doing 10 mins at first... Then longer...

I desperately don't want to make her more anxious but I do need to get work done!!!

Also, can I ask advice on the whole working-from-home thing... I don't want DD to think I am around but not coming to her IYSWIM. Would it be a good idea to pretend to go out, ie leave by the front door, give a big wave and smile, then creep back in while she is otherwise occupied so she doesn't know I am there?

Or is that just nutty sounding?!?

Bumpsadaisie Thu 17-Oct-13 14:16:06

PS I wouldn't leave a baby to cry either. I might leave my DD to cry if she were being a pain, but she is four years old and a mature schoolgirl in reception, with no worries about separation at all.

I wouldn't leave my son and he is nearly two, so much older than your DD - and he's still quite nervous about separation from me.

PrincessYoni Thu 17-Oct-13 17:31:02

Your mothers help idea sounds good. I went with the always telling her I would be back and (although she had no concept of a watch or time) I would be back when I said I would. It took about 3 weeks and then she was fine.

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