My 8-month-old daughter has been crying insistently whenever I leave the room. I know it's anxiety, so I try to talk to her wherever I am in the house to calm her down, but it doesn't work. I know she's had her diaper changed, been fed, and isn’t sick or scared. It absolutely drives me nuts and I end up yelling at her, which I don't want. I hate to hear her cry because I know there's nothing I can do. Even if I walked away she'd cry even more.
Dear Frustrated Mom
You're facing classic separation anxiety. Your daughter has suddenly realized that she is a “separate” little person and this means that she can be “separated” from the very person who she needs to comfort and care for her. This can produce a great deal of anxiety in babies who reach this stage, usually between 8 and 12 months. This clinging and crying behavior will last for a few months and may make it difficult to leave her with a sitter, even Grandma, for a while. Her brain is developing the ability to remember people and objects, But until this is achieved, close to her first birthday, it will be difficult for her to know you will return until she sees you with her own eyes. Playing peek-a-boo with your baby at this age can help them cope with this anxiety. Watch her face light up with delight as you cover and uncover your face with a blanket. Soon she will grab the blanket down and make Mommy disappear and reappear. If she has a favorite toy or blanket often called a “transitional” object that represents you in your absence, that can help comfort her when you are not around. When you have to leave the room, try to keep talking so that she hears your voice. Even if she is upset, the more she experiences your return, the less anxious she will be when you disappear into the next room. It’s a normal part of growing up as she learns to trust that you will come back to care for her.