Beginning in the second half of the first year, separation anxiety can cause many nights with disrupted sleep. During this stage (which can last for several months), a child may wake several times and cry anxiously for one or both parents, often expressing a strong preference for one.
This is a normal stage in children’s emotional development and needs to be managed with a loving and consistent approach. Separation anxiety usually fades away somewhere around the second birthday. Until it does, your child may need reassurance several times night after night.
To deal with separation anxiety as a whole, here are a few steps that you can take:
No matter how young your child is, let her know in a matter-of-fact way when you have to leave her. Even if you’re only going into another room for a minute, tell her, “I’ll be right back.” One day she’ll surprise you with her own “Right back!” when she’s leaving you for a while.
Create a diversion to distract your child’s attention when you leave. A babysitter can help with that by sharing a new toy or giving your baby a bath. Then say goodbye and leave as quickly as possible.
When you go out in the evening, try to use a familiar babysitter. If you must use a new one, ask her to arrive before the child’s bedtime and allow a little time for getting acquainted. Many parents make it a rule to employ a regular babysitter one night a week and plan their social activities accordingly. Children usually find it easy to accept such a separation when it is part of a predictable routine.