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7 month old and separation anxiety

(7 Posts)
Peevish Sat 10-Nov-12 20:43:53

My seven month old has, for the last week or so, started to cry almost the moment I am out of his sight - I assume this is the onset of the separation anxiety stage I've heard of. But what, if anything, can or should I do about it?

Our flat is tiny, so I'm never more than a few steps away, quite literally, and I keep talking loudly to him when I'm in the bedroom or bathroom, and pop my head around the door of the room he's in, so he knows I'm not gone - but it doesn't seem to help.

Does this pass? Is it normal? Is there anything I can do to alleviate his anxiety? I can't even have a pee without him going crazy, and I feel so sorry for him, but also a bit frustrated! His father works long hours, so it's just me and him 14 hours a day...

Peevish Sat 10-Nov-12 20:48:59

Sorry, should have said - I've almost never left him with anyone, even my DH, and am still on maternity leave. It's nothing to do with me going away, or leaving him in childcare, just me leaving the room.

QTPie Sat 10-Nov-12 20:53:14

Yes normal, yes does pass.

Whilst he goes through it, take him with you where you can (into the bedroom or bathroom etc) and give him lots of affection and cuddles. Hopefully the more reassured he is, the quicker the phase will pass.

Also, do you play "Peek a Boo" with him? (i.e. hiding behind your hands and doing peek-a-boo). I know this sounds silly, but that game is excellent at addressing seperation anxiety. The problem with babies is that their seperation anxiety comes from thinking that "once you are out of sight, you have disappeared forever": peek-a-boo is basically "I have gone, no here I am!" (proves that because you are out of sight, you have not disappeared and will come back). When he gets used to peek-a-boo (from you hiding behind your hands), then try peek-a-boo from behind a door frame/sofa/table etc (you don't even need to hide completely to do it).

Good luck.

lola88 Sat 10-Nov-12 20:56:33

My DS just went through the same thing he started just before he got to 8 mo and was terrible for about 2 weeks would have a full scale weltdown every time i left him for even a few seconds he's 9mo now and though he's still very clingy and crys when i leave him it's only if i'm gone for more than a few mins and is fine if he doesn't see me leave (if it's just us 2 in the house it's worse).

I read quite a bit about it and they say the best thing to do is continue to leave them for when you need to as they need to learn that mummy may go away but she will always come back. I just used to pop to the loo then started to make it longer maybe 2/3 mins at a time now i can go abouut 5 mins if he has the tv on and a toy to play with. I think thats the best approch teach him it's ok to be on his own you will always come back and when you do come back come with a big smile doing the bouncy childrens tv presenter bit. I also always say 'wee minute mummy will be back' when i leave him or if i leave him with someone else i say 'mummy go tata' i also say that when DP goes to work and make a big deal when anyone comes in the door so he gets used to people coming and going.

Peevish Sat 10-Nov-12 21:41:42

Thanks so much, you two. QTPie, my instincts do tell me to cuddle him, be as present as possible, put him in his bouncy chair while I take a shower, and wait for this to pass.

But lola, what you say makes me wonder whether part of the problem is that I am always there with him. We live in a different country to both families, and have no close friends nearby who regularly see our baby, and my partner currently works very long hours a lengthy commute away. We do lots of soft play and baby group things, so it's not that he doesn't see other people, but I really am literally always by his side - he even naps on me during the day (feeds to sleep). It's just that going to the loo has suddenly become a real problem!

We do play Peekaboo all the time, and have for months, but I hadn't made the connection... Hmm.

Pyrrah Sat 10-Nov-12 21:57:11

Some children get it badly, others don't. DD had it so badly we took professional advice. Her's lasted from 5 months to 22 months and it was hell. Babysitters refused to return after one session, even family members wouldn't look after her.

I was desperately upset especially as I'd done full-on attachment parenting - we co-slept, she was EBF, she was always in a sling (only way she ever stopped screaming) and our flat was tiny so the only time she was ever alone was while I took a shower.

The Dr Sears 'Fussy Baby Book' was wonderful at reassuring me, as were the wonderful child psychologists I saw. Their advice was to just wait it out and in the meantime not try and push her to be more independent.

Today she is, at 3.5 one of the most confident, independent and unclingy children I know. At 2.4 years I started her at nursery - the first day I went to pick her up after 2 hours and she had a complete melt-down at having to go home. The next day the nursery told me to just pick her up at 4pm as she had no issues at all with settling in.

So don't panic. Obviously if you have grandparents and other relatives living round the corner your DS might be more comfortable being passed around, but that is not always possible. Your son will come out the other side - you will be exhausted in the meantime - and probably be as confident as any other chiild, possibly moreso as he will have learnt that mummy is always there when he needs her and so it's safe to branch out alone.

Peevish Sun 11-Nov-12 18:22:41

Pyrrah, what a lovely response - thank you. It's good to know your daughter emerged from her bout of it a confident, secure little girl. I wasn't well parented, and while I appear very confident on the surface, I'm secretly an insecure, shy wreck, so I'm really keen that my baby grows up secure and sure of his place in the world.

I do worry that he is too isolated and dependent on me, but there's not a great deal I can do about the absence of family or friends close by. He seems like a sociable wee thing, and likes company, as long as I'm there, though. Like you, I'm hoping that being there for him when he's little will mean he has a secure base for his self.

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