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Gina's top tips for dealing with anxiety in babies

It is quite normal for babies to become more clingy between six and nine months because it is now that they begin to realise they are separate from their mothers. A previously easygoing baby can suddenly become demanding and upset if his mother leaves the room. All babies go through this to some extent, and it is important to understand that they are not being naughty or demanding. Forcing your baby to go to strangers, or leaving him alone in a room to play by himself, will not solve the problem, and may lead him to become more fretful and insecure. Responding quickly and positively to the anxiety rather than ignoring it will, in the long run, help him become more confident and independent.

Although this stage can be very exhausting for a mother, it rarely lasts long. The following tips can help make this difficult period less stressful.

  • Many babies develop a need for a comforter at this age, usually a special blanket, cloth or toy.
  • If you are planning to return to work when your baby is between six and nine months, it is important to make sure that he gets accustomed to being left with someone else before he reaches that age.
  • Get him used to the nursery or childminder at least two weeks before returning to work. Gradually lengthen the period of time you leave him.
  • Provided you are confident that your baby is happy with his carer, do not prolong the goodbye. A hug and a kiss, and a reminder that you will be back soon, are enough. Using the same approach and words each time will, in the long term, be more reassuring than going back to try and calm him.
  • During this period ask your baby's carer not to subject him to too many different new things at once or too much handling by strangers. The calmer and more predictable his routine, the quicker he will get over his feeling of anxiety.
  • Try to arrange regular play dates with just a small group of the same mothers and babies. Once he appears to be happier and begins responding to the familiar faces, gradually introduce him to larger groups and other new faces.

From Gina Ford's Top Tips for Contented Babies & Toddlers

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