Separation Anxiety

When babies start developing a fear of being separated from their primary caregivers, it is called separation anxiety. This type of anxiety tends to develop between the ages of 6 months and 10 months of age. Some of the ways you can help relieve your child's anxiety include practicing games like peek-a-boo and not sneaking out when leaving your baby with a babysitter.

An Overview of Separation Anxiety in Infants

Between the ages of 6 months and 10 months old, most infants begin to develop a fear of being separated from their parents or primary caregivers. This development can be stressful for you and your baby, but is perfectly healthy and will pass with time. The development of separation anxiety is a sign that your baby has developed a strong sense of attachment to you.
 

What Is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is the fear that babies experience:
 
  • As they begin spending more time away from you
  • Before they have had the opportunity to learn what your absence means and they develop a level of trust that you will return.
     
When separation anxiety starts, your baby might begin showing signs of anxiety or fear of new people and new situations. This is paired with an increased clinginess to you.
 
Infants and young toddlers all tend to experience separation anxiety in varying degrees. The anxiety they experience stems from their inability to understand two important concepts. Babies do not understand that when you leave the room:
  1. You still exist
  2. You will be back.
Understanding that you still exist is a fairly complex concept that takes awhile to grasp. Without understanding this, you can imagine how scary and confusing it would be to see your favorite person disappear from sight.
 
In addition to not understanding that concept, babies also take awhile to learn trust. Trust is a special part of the attachment process that needs to be worked on and developed. It is something that comes with time and repeated positive experience together.
 
Written by/reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
Other Articles in This eMedTV Presentation
eMedTV Links
Copyright © 2006-2014 Clinaero, Inc.

eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind. Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click Terms of Use for more information.

This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.