At almost ten months, my infant continues to struggle with separation anxiety. My husband and I have done our best to support our little one during this milestone. Separation anxiety for babies is perfectly normal and many babies experience it. I am in no rush to have my child “get over it,” or worried that she needs to be more independent. After all, she is just a baby, who is still very dependent on her parents for survival and comfort. I am not at all concerned. I do want to do everything I can to help her transition through this developmental period.
Pushing children to become more independent is a very western culture ideology. In most cultures, babies rarely leave their mothers side during their first year of life. Without someone to properly care for them, infants could not survive. Becoming concerned when your main caregiver is not available, is a legitimate fear for an infant to have.
I have taken several steps to help my daughter cope with her separation anxiety. I want to guide her appropriately, without pushing her beyond her comfort level. I also want to encourage her when she’s ready to move forward. Wanting to do what is best for the needs of my child, I’ve done my own research, consulted with a specialist, and I’ve introduced the ‘Lovey’.
A ‘Lovey’ is an object that your infant can cling to, that will help them soothe themselves. It is a comfort object that they recognize and are familiar with. How does this work? Instead of depending on their caregivers to sooth them through every difficult or upsetting moment, they learn to reach for their Lovey instead. Lovey’s are great for separation anxiety, stranger fear, sleep training, and fussiness.
Lovey’s can be introduced any time between four and nine months, depending on your pediatricians recommendations. Your baby may become close to a stuffed animal, blanket, or other object, choosing the Lovey themselves.
At about five months, our little darling had decided that she was no longer interested in her pacifier. Figuring that she may need an object to teach herself to soothe, I attempted to introduce a Lovey to her. I gave her access to stuffed animals, blanket pals, and warm and cozy blankets. She showed no interest in any of these. It wasn’t until we were walking through her room during a “visual tour” when she spotted her future best friend. I carried her past a basket of untouched blanket pals that we were gifted before she was born. There were four or five of them that I had put in the basket because we had received so many of them. When she spotted the puppy blanket pal, her eyes lit up and she reached out toward it. It was the very first object she had ever reached out for. It was ‘Lovey’ at first sight. I ripped the tags off and handed it to her.
We named her new pal, Buddy and we started to use him during her transition to her crib and sleep regression. At first, she was only a little interested, but their love blossomed as the months rolled by. We were nervous about Buddy being with her at night so we started with naps. By six months he would be resting within arms reach of her. Now at ten months, she snuggles with him and is falling asleep a little easier. She still wakes up some nights but has fallen back to sleep a few times on her own after finding Buddy. We did not think to utilize Buddy outside of the crib until recently.
After speaking to a specialist about her separation anxiety, the child behaviorist had asked about her Lovey. We were excited to talk about her love affair with Buddy and equally thrilled when she suggested we use it to help her with her anxiety.
When she woke up from sleep and her naps, we started taking Buddy out into the play area with us. Before leaving the room, I would give her a kiss, tell her I would be right back, and I handed her Buddy. After a few days of this, I noticed that my little one started to play on her own. Five minutes of independent play eventually turned into thirty minutes. Just last week, I clocked a full 45 minutes of playing independently with her toys. Of course I was with in eyesight and every once in awhile she would look up at me. Yet, during her play, if she began to feel lonely, she would reach for her Buddy, give him a quick squeeze, set him beside her, and continue to play. It was a huge milestone development for her and I could not be more proud.
Now that she crawls, she does follow me around and there are still moments when she cries when I walk away, but as she gets older, I’m learning to support her effectively. I’m letting Dad sooth her without intervening unless she calls out, “Mama,” I’m giving her time to explore and play on her own, and Buddy has been a great tool to help her self sooth.
Understanding that she is just a baby, I’m not holding on to any expectations. There are days when she just needs me to be around her and that’s okay to me. I’m encouraging her independence when she is comfortable with it but I’m in no rush for her to grow up just yet. She has her Mama when ever she needs me, and she has her Buddy too.
Sources of Information:
*Disclaimer: I am not a professional and will not be accountable. My blogs are written from my own experiences and should not be taken literal.
*This work, along with it’s images, as well as other posts published by Messy Mama, are protected by copyright laws.
Copyright © Messy Mama 2019 https://messymama18.com