Separation Anxiety in Babies: Causes, Signs, and How to Help Them Through It

Separation Anxiety in Babies: Causes, Signs, and How to Help Them Through It

Separation anxiety is a natural and common developmental stage that babies go through. While it can be challenging for both babies and parents, understanding the causes and recognizing the signs of separation anxiety can help you support your baby through this stage. In this blog, we’ll discuss what separation anxiety is, why it happens, when it typically occurs, what you can do to help your baby, and how you can survive this phase as a parent.

mum feeling sad as her baby is going through separation anxiety

What is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is a normal and common developmental stage that babies go through, typically starting around 6 months of age. During this stage, babies can become distressed when separated from their primary caregivers, usually their parents. This can lead to crying, clinginess, and general fussiness when left with other caregivers, such as grandparents or babysitters. Separation anxiety is a sign that your baby is developing a healthy attachment to you and is starting to understand that you are a separate person from them.

Why Does Separation Anxiety Happen?

Separation anxiety happens as a result of emotional and cognitive development in babies. As babies grow and develop, they start to understand that they are separate from their caregivers and that their caregivers can leave them. This can lead to anxiety and distress when separated from their caregivers, as babies are unsure when their caregivers will return. Separation anxiety is a normal part of a baby’s emotional and cognitive development and is a sign that your baby is developing a healthy attachment to you.

mum playing with her baby both laughing and happy

What Can You Do to Help Your Baby with the separation anxiety?

Understanding what causes separation anxiety can help you support your baby through this stage. By starting small, creating a goodbye routine, staying calm and positive, and encouraging bonding with other caregivers, you can help your baby develop a sense of security and independence that will benefit them throughout their life.


  • Start Small: Practice leaving your baby with other caregivers for short periods, gradually increasing the amount of time you spend apart. This will help your baby get used to being away from you and will build their confidence and independence.
  • Create a Goodbye Routine: Develop a predictable and consistent goodbye routine that helps your baby understand that you will always come back. This can include saying goodbye with a hug and a kiss or leaving a special item, such as a blanket or a toy, with your baby. Learn more about routines in our detailed  age specific sleep guides here.
  • Stay Calm and Positive: Your baby can sense when you’re anxious or upset, which can make separation anxiety worse. Stay calm and positive when leaving your baby with other caregivers, and reassure your baby that you will return.
  • Encourage Bonding with Other Caregivers: Encouraging your baby to bond with other caregivers, such as grandparents or babysitters, can help them feel more secure when you’re not around. This can include spending time with other caregivers while you’re present, so your baby can get used to being with them.
  • Use Distractions: Before leaving your baby, provide them with a fun activity or toy that will keep them occupied and distracted while you’re away. This can help your baby associate your absence with positive experiences and can make the separation easier for both of you.
  • Stick to a Routine: Establishing a consistent routine can help your baby.
  • draw or Lipstick Kiss on Their Hand: Before your baby goes to sleep, draw or put a lipstick kiss on their hand and tell them to kiss it when they feel lonely. This will help your child feel connected to you even when you’re not around.
  • Give Them a Soft Toy to look after: Giving your baby a soft toy to look after can be a great distraction when you’re not around. Your baby will feel less lonely and more responsible for looking after their toy.
  • Give Them an Item of Your Clothing: Giving your baby an item of your clothing to sleep with can provide comfort and familiarity, as it will smell like you. This can help your baby feel more secure and less anxious when you’re not around. Make sure to follow safe sleep advice and dont leave any lose item in the cot for babies under one.
  • Create a Social Story Book: Make a book with pictures of your baby, their caregivers, and family members to create a story about your baby’s day. Include their activities, people they interact with, and their bedtime routine. You can also add comforting phrases or messages that can help them feel loved and cared for even when you’re not around.
  • Establish a Bedtime Routine: A consistent bedtime routine can help your baby feel more relaxed and comfortable at bedtime. Incorporate activities such as reading the social storybook together, singing lullabies, or playing calming music. Additionally, you can create a relaxing environment by dimming the lights and using a white noise machine. This routine can also help your baby feel more connected and secure, making it easier for them to fall asleep.
  • Play Peekaboo Games: Peekaboo games can help your baby understand that even when you’re not visible, you’re still there. You can play peekaboo by covering your face with your hands or a blanket and then revealing yourself, saying “Peekaboo!” This can help your baby learn that people can disappear and reappear, but they always come back.
  • Love Bombing: Spend quality time with your baby and give them lots of attention and affection when you’re together. This can help them feel loved and secure, even when you’re not physically present. Some ways to love bomb your baby include playing with them, reading to them, cuddling, and singing to them.
  • Use Comfort Objects Safely: While comfort objects can provide your baby with a sense of security, it’s important to use them safely. If your baby is under one year old and still sleeping in a cot, avoid leaving any loose objects such as blankets or soft toys in the cot with them. Instead, you can place the comfort object near the cot or use a sleep sack that doesn’t have any loose fabric. This can reduce the risk of suffocation and other sleep-related accidents. Check here for safe sleep advice to prevent SIDs.


We hope these tips can help you ease your baby’s separation anxiety and provide them with comfort and security when you’re not around. Remember, every baby is unique, and it may take some trial and error to find what works best for your little one. Be patient, consistent, and show them lots of love and attention, and they’ll soon learn that they are safe and loved.

If you need more support or have any questions, we’re here to help! You can contact us for one-on-one support or purchase our detailed sleep guide that includes more tips on how to manage separation anxiety and promote healthy sleep habits for your baby. We’re committed to helping you and your baby get the rest you both need and deserve.

Surviving 8 Week Sleep Regression with Your Baby

Surviving 8 Week Sleep Regression with Your Baby

As a Baby Sleep Coach, one thing I find parents quickly learn about feeling you are getting the hang of having a newborn and navigating their sleep patterns, is that you shouldn’t get too comfortable. Over the first few years of their life, your child will go through many regressions in their sleep. The best way to tackle this sleep turmoil is to be prepared and not to be blindsided when your good sleeper is suddenly a sleep avoider.

mum holding new born swaddled baby

But let me reassure you, it will not last forever and will eventually pass. It is important not to create new ‘bad habits’, so check the advice below on what you can do to survive the sleep regression at 8 weeks.A sleep regression is a period of time, usually lasting a few weeks, during which a baby or young child who previously slept well suddenly begins to wake up frequently during the night and have difficulty falling or staying asleep. Sleep regressions can occur at several different ages, including around 8 weeks, 4 months, 8 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 2 years old.

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that there is a specific “8-week sleep regression.” However, many parents report that their babies go through a period of disrupted sleep patterns around the 8-week mark.

During this time, babies may have trouble settling down to sleep, may wake up more frequently during the night, and may be more fussy or irritable during the day. This can be a challenging time for both parents and babies, as disrupted sleep can lead to exhaustion and stress.

Some possible reasons why babies may experience disrupted sleep around 8 weeks of age include growth spurts, developmental changes, or a shift in their circadian rhythms. However, every baby is different, and the exact cause of disrupted sleep patterns may vary from one baby to the next.

What age will my child go through a sleep regression?

  • 8 weeks
  • 4 months
  • 8 – 10 Months
  • 12 – 15 Months
  • 2 years

How long does sleep regression last?

The length of a sleep regression can vary depending on the individual child and the cause of the regression. Some sleep regressions may only last a few days or a week, while others may last for several weeks. But let me reassure you, it will not last forever and will eventually pass. It is important not to create new ‘bad habits’, so check the advice below on what you can do to survive the sleep regression at 8 weeks.

mum sitting in the chair holding a baby sleeping on her chest

So why is the sleep regression happening at 8 weeks?

It is roughly around the two month mark that your baby undergoes both physiological and hormonal changes because that is just a part of them growing up! This first one is due to the fact that all of the melatonin they had stored up from their mothers while in the womb is now switching to their own system where they begin to produce their own! You would probably think it was pretty amazing if you weren’t so tired. You know the term ‘sleepy newborn’? Well that is all about to change as they become more aware of their environment and the people in it and will become more alert to their surroundings. Now the world is becoming a much bigger place for them as their sight improves too, who wouldn’t want to take all of that in as much as they could?

Is this the new normal?

All those changes I said were happening to your baby right now are hear to start and are all part of your babies development. The frustration at having a baby who you won’t go back to sleep  however, will get easier.  Your baby will start producing their own melatonin, they will learn to settle themselves and to go back to sleep between periods of rest.  Also those nap times will increase, giving you a much needed break.

mum kissing her newborn  baby

What can I do to help my 8 week old during sleep regression?

As difficult as things may seem right now, I am here to tell you it isn’t all as depressing as it seems and to give you my top 4 survival tips.

1. Make changes to where they sleep.

Make sure you are making the night sleep vs day sleep very black and white. Keep your daytime interactions in brightly lit rooms. Make the awake time fun – lots to do, lots to see.  Nap time and bedtime is for settling down relaxing and ultimately aiming for a much deeper sleep with no distractions. The darkness will help the melatonin I mentioned your baby is trying their best to produce. A black out blind may help.

2. Avoid making changes to routine

Set your routine and stick with it. It isn’t going to instantly make things better because it’s a sleep regression but making changes or adding gadgets will mean your baby has too many things going on and will be more difficult to settle. Be strong, be consistent and your reward will come in the long run.

3. Create a calm sleeping environment

Make sure your baby’s sleeping environment is conducive to sleep. Keep the room dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Consider using a white noise machine or a soothing sound to help your baby relax.

4. Comfort your baby

When your baby wakes up at night, offer comfort without picking them up if possible. Use soothing words and gentle touches to help them relax and go back to sleep.

5. Practice safe sleep

Make sure your baby is sleeping in a safe environment, such as on their back in a crib with a firm mattress and fitted sheet.

6. Get support

Reach out to friends and family members for support during this challenging time. Consider hiring a childcare provider or asking a family member to watch your baby for a few hours so you can rest.

7. Take care of yourself

Try to get enough rest yourself by napping when your baby sleeps, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly. Remember that taking care of yourself is essential to being a good parent.

8. Be patient

Remember that the 8-week sleep regression is a phase that will eventually pass. Be patient and keep trying different techniques to help your baby sleep better.

9. Bigger the baby the bigger the feed

Your baby has a growing belly, but it doesn’t mean they have realised that. If they are still taking the small feeds that their few day old self was eating, then it makes sense that they will wake up sooner hungrier because they weren’t full in the first place. This might mean a feed now will easily send them back to sleep, but if you are not doing feed on demand, then encouraging a bigger feed rather than a snack will help them to settle for longer. Check out my blog on whether Baby will sleep better if you give them an extra bottle.

10. Well-timed (and placed) naps

As I mentioned early, your sleepy newborn is slowly disappearing and their awake times are becoming more frequent. Your baby’s awake times should have been extended from when they were first born and you can gradually increase the time they are awake to prevent them from being under-tired and therefore waking up too soon, or not resettling once they are awake. Doing this gradually will hopefully prevent them going too far the other way and becoming overtired and struggling to even get them to sleep.


Hopefully these tips will help you to survive having an unsettled baby. Pick your schedule, add in some white noise, consider swaddling if you don’t already and most importantly – stick with it. Their melatonin won’t increase in a day but with these tips you can give your baby the best possible chance to get through the first sleep regression and hopefully save your sanity.

If you liked these tips and wanted to learn more about how to support your child to sleep at this age, my 5 star parent-rated, baby sleep guide for baby’s that are 0 – 3 months old is available here or why not purchase our sleep bundle to cover all sleep up until school here.


Have you downloaded your freebie yet? Top 10 Baby Sleep Coach Tips To Help Your Baby Sleep Better Guide! If not, then make sure to click here.

For more advice on how to help your baby sleep and find a baby sleep solution that works for you and your family, you can check out our
 1 : 1 consultation services or our new baby sleep guides which come with free access to my Sleepy Village Facebook community for easy access to get your questions answered.