As new parents, there are so many exciting new changes and developments happening so quickly if you blink too long you might miss one. Most of these changes are exciting and reason to celebrate (even if you do get weird looks from your friends or co-workers for celebrating your baby’s first laugh or the first time they’ve held on to something). But, as a new father, there’s one change that is really hard to experience. Separation anxiety. Since most of these changes just happen overnight, they often catch you off guard or unprepared.
I’ve been a really lucky dad. Where most Dad’s I’ve spoken with have said that their children didn’t show a lot of interest in them until 6 months (or even later in some cases), Edith has always been comfortable and happy with me. I’m often the one who can calm her down when she’s upset or soothe her to sleep when nothing else is working. (She’s got to be the ONLY person out there who enjoys my singing) So, it was especially hard to deal with the first time she let out that scared, worried screech and started pushing away form me and looking around frantically trying to find her mom. The rational part of me knew that it was nothing personal and was just another step in her continuing growth and development. Separation anxiety begins when babies first start to understand that people and things exist even when they aren’t directly in front of them, otherwise known as “object permanence”. This is also why peek-a-boo becomes such a fun game for them all of a sudden (or in some cases why peek-a-boo can probably upset them too!). Aside from just a matter of being attached to those that they love and who love them most and are around them most, there is thought that it is part of human evolution. That a defenseless baby would rightfully get upset and worried when left alone to fend for themselves. Despite all of the rationale around it, it is tough to deal with when you’re on the wrong end of separation anxiety. The important thing to remember is that, to some extent, all babies experience separation anxiety and it’s not permanent. I’ve already noticed Edith that when it comes to me, the anxiety is lesser than it was and typically only happens when she’s really upset or tired.
While it can be upsetting or tough, I know it’s best not to let that show too much around Edith and that being calm, comfortable and outwardly expressing love for Edith is the most important thing I can do and is what will help her know that she is safe with me. Be sure to talk with your health care provider as well, ours gave us lots of great tips!
Some sources I’ve found helpful include: