The 8-month crisis
How can you help your baby?
- Reassure him as much as possible, without considering his tears as "tantrums" : his anguish is real and he needs contact with you to overcome it. Hold him in your arms and cuddle him whenever you have the opportunity to do so. Tell him repeatedly that you love him and will always be there for him. When you have to leave him, explain to him that it is only a temporary separation: "mummy has to go but she'll be back soon".
- In the presence of unfamiliar people, respect your child's fears: take your time in presenting the people around you to your baby and give him time to observe them at his own pace. Never put him directly into the arms of a stranger.
- However, do not cut him off from the world: get him used to seeing different people while remaining safely and reassuringly cradled in your arms.
- If you have to absent yourself, leave your child with someone he trusts: his father, in particular, can play an important role during this difficult period.
- If your baby does not have a security blanket, you can offer him one: a piece of clothing, a soft toy or a small scarf impregnated with your odour should enable him to cope with being separated from you more easily. This transitional object may become very important to your child : be careful not to lose it!
- Play a game of "peekaboo - I'm hiding"! by hiding yourself behind an item of bed linen or a door and then reappearing. Most babies love this game which enables them to get used to the idea of your absence and gradually understand that you will be together again after having been separated.
- Never sneak away from your baby without telling him you are leaving and that you will be coming back.. For example, if you have to leave him in a nursery or with a childminder, do not try to creep silently away but explain to him that you will be back to pick him up at the end of the day.
- Wherever possible, avoid changing your child minding method during this period: this is not an ideal time to start leaving him in a nursery or looking for a new childminder.
- Also try to avoid long absences: try to wait a few months before planning a holiday without your baby.
- In all cases, separation anxiety is a transitory phase: as the weeks pass your little one will begin to build his own identity and accept to exist without you. Be patient : in a few months he will be smiling again to all those around him and he will be able to cope with your absences in a much calmer manner!