Let's talk about separation anxiety -
~ It usually begins around 6-8 months of age.
~ It will often peak at 12 months of age.
~ During this time, your baby who was once happy to be put down and left to his own devices, will start to protest and become upset if you leave his sight or put him down.
~ This phase is NORMAL.
~ Although many parents think it is a sign they have done something wrong, it's actually a sign of healthy development.
~ In other words, it's a sign that you're actually doing a good job in fostering a healthy attachment with your child!
So how do we manage separation anxiety?
We manage it like any other normal, challenging stage. We dig deep and recognise that our baby needs us. We respond to those needs. We reassure baby that the world is still safe. We hold them, carry them, wear them and sleep beside them if need be.
Even if these steps feel like you're going "backwards" - understand that this is actually your baby going forwards.
We don't force them to deal with it. We don't try to teach them to manage it. Their brains are in overdrive at this stage and they just aren't capable of rational, complex thoughts yet. They can't make sense of their emotions. They don't understand.
The worst thing we can do is try to force independence and detachment onto them at this time.
Yes, it's hard for us. But it's harder for them.
So if you're in the midst of this phase at the moment, and you're feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by your baby who just wants to be close to you 24/7 - rest assured.
This isn't "your fault".
This is normal.
And most importantly -
This too shall pass.
Georgina Dowden is a mother, midwife and lactation consultant (IBCLC).
In her day to day life, she looks after her two beautiful children and also supports other families on their parenting journey.
If you would like to get in touch sleep/settling support, click here:
Home visits for breastfeeding support available if you live in the Northern Rivers of NSW.