You used to leave your baby with loved ones or other trusted child care providers with a kiss on the cheek and a quick wave goodbye. Now, however, your goodbyes trigger tears and clingy behavior. What's going on?
Separation anxiety is a normal stage of development for infants and toddlers. Frustrating as it may be, it's actually an emotional milestone that generally begins at 8 to 9 months of age. Your child is starting to understand that there's only one of you — and you still exist even when you aren't in sight.
Separation anxiety usually fades by age 24 months. In the meantime, say goodbye gently and reassure your child that you'll return soon. Separation anxiety rarely requires medical treatment.
May 30, 2015
- How to ease your child's separation anxiety. HealthyChildren.org. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/Pages/Soothing-Your-Childs-Separation-Anxiety.aspx. Accessed May 6, 2015.
- Children who won't go to school (separation anxiety). American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. http://www.aacap.org/aacap/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_Families_Pages/Children_Who_Wont_Go_To_School_07.aspx. Accessed May 6, 2015.
- Separation and stranger anxiety. Merck Manual Professional Edition. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/symptoms-in-infants-and-children/separation-and-stranger-anxiety. Accessed May 6, 2015.
- Hay WW, et al. Child development and behavior. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 22nd ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2014. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed May 6, 2015.
- Separation and stranger anxiety. Merck Manual Consumer Edition. https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/children-s-health-issues/symptoms-in-infants-and-children/separation-and-stranger-anxiety. Accessed May 6, 2015.
- Separation anxiety disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed May 6, 2015.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 11, 2015.
- Whiteside SP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 26, 2015.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.