Q&A: Cry baby...
My nine-month old baby has suddenly gone from a happy-go-lucky chap who smiled sll the time, to a clingy baby who cries a lot. He refuses to go to my husband or anyone but me- I can't even go to the loo! What is happening here?

Robyn-Leigh Smith (counselling psychologist) answers:

Remember that this period coincides with your baby’s increased mobility, as he starts crawling
around now. Besides the greater exploration and independence mobility allows, the realisation that your baby is his own, separate, person can cause him to feel much anxiety and fear. Babies at this age do not understand that their caregiver will return when, for example, they leave the room. Time can also seem endless and moments apart may feel like they will never end. Your baby also has to deal with the realisation that at times he will be left out – in other words, that the people he loves have relationships that exclude him, like your relationship with your partner.

Separation anxiety, or the upset response which arises when separated from the primary caregiver (normally the mother), is a normal stage of development and tends to be seen in babies between the ages of six and 15 months. It usually goes away on its own.

As much as a nine-month-old baby has to battle with having to be alone or separate from his mom, parents also battle to manage this – both in terms of their own separation from their baby as well as having to hold the pain of separation on behalf of their baby. It may bring up feelings of unbearable loss that parents have experienced, rejections or traumatic separations. Moms may also not want to give up the exclusive relationship they have with their baby or allow dad to take on
a greater role.

Never forget that just like any relationship, the relationship between you and your baby will have its ups and downs. Sometimes you will understand what is going on with your baby, but other times you will feel quite lost and may feel like you are getting it all wrong. As so nicely put by Sophie Boswell in her book Understanding Your Baby, when things go wrong it does not mean things will be “broken beyond repair: recovering from diffi culties and misunderstandings, for both baby and parents, is an essential part of getting to know and love each other”. So understand that this too shall pass as it’s a normal phase of babyhood.

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