When your baby is between eight and twelve months of age you may notice that she suddenly gets upset when you leave the room. This can be very upsetting to parents. But this is a normal developmental process and your baby will outgrow it in time.
Around this age your baby becomes more physically active, crawling and maybe even walking. Your baby also becomes more “goal-oriented”. He may be determined to crawl over to that toy that is on the other side of the room.
During this period your baby starts to see you as a separate person. This discovery period is the time when “separation anxiety” can set in. When your baby can’t see you, she will believe that you no longer exist. This is understandably very distressing to your baby. Slowly, around this age, your baby will begin to understand that objects like toys, and people, like mommy, continue to exist even when they can’t be seen.
Games such as peek-a-boo and hiding toys under a small blanket are great games at this stage. They help your baby develop the concept of “object permanence”, as well as being good fun. When you hide the toy in your hand, your baby will begin to realize that it is still there and pull at your fingers to find it. As your baby begins to learn that you continue to exist even when you leave the room, the separation anxiety often gets better. When you leave the room, your baby may crawl after you. Your baby will also begin to wander out of your sight to explore but still come back for frequent "emotional check-ins.”
This can be a stressful time for parents and babies but like all stages, this too shall pass.
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Updated February 2023