Part of a baby's normal development is learning that separations from parents are not permanent. Young babies do not understand time, so they think a parent who walks out of the room is gone forever. Also, they have not yet developed the concept of object permanence—that a hidden object is still there, it just cannot be seen. Without these concepts, babies can become anxious and fearful when a parent leaves their sight. Separation anxiety is usually at its peak between 10 and 18 months. It typically ends by the time a child is 3 years old.
Babies experiencing separation anxiety fear that a parent will leave and not return. The fear may be worsened in the presence of a stranger. Typical responses of babies experiencing this normal phase of development may include the following:
Children who feel secure are better able to handle separations. Cuddling and comforting your child when you are together can help him or her feel more secure. Other ways to help your child with separations include the following:
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