How to deal with the tricky clingy stage.

When your baby wants no-one but you it can be flattering… but also stifling. Here’s how to deal with the tricky clingy stage.

A lot of babies and toddlers go through a clingy stage. It mostly happens when they are between 10 and 18 months but it can start as early as six months old. Here we talk about what separation anxiety is and how to deal with it.

What is separation anxiety?

Separation is a normal part of your child’s development. It happens when they get distressed and anxious when they are separated from their main carers. They might get upset by new faces or the absence of the old ones.

Separation anxiety usually starts before a child’s first birthday and can last until they turn four years. The intensity and timing of separation anxiety vary a lot from child to child.

At Wriggles and Giggles Sessions we repeat activities that will help with all stages of development from birth to 5 years We also help with ideas to take home and parenting tips and techniques. To join a group in Yarm, Darlington, Hartburn, Ingleby Barwick, Newton Aycliffe send us an email

What are the signs of separation anxiety?

Your baby might show a number of signs of separation anxiety. They might cry when left with someone else. They might not want to play on their own. They might start waking up early or they might start having sleeping problems.

But it’s never happened before – why now?

Separation anxiety is a healthy reaction to separation and is a normal stage of development. It’s a sign your child’s awareness of the world

is evolving and that they know they are dependent on you or their other main carers. So separation makes them feel unsafe. The good news is that this awareness is a step forward.

How can I handle separation anxiety?

Whether it happens when you go back to work or appears as your baby showing a preference for one parent, it can be hugely upsetting. An emotional rollercoaster for parents and babies too. So here are some tips for managing this ‘clingy stage’...

1. Build up the separation gradually

You could try leaving them with someone they know well for a short time at first. Build up gradually to longer stints with people they know less well. They’ll get there.

You could also try practising short-term separations around the house. Such as if you go to another room, talk to your baby and when you return, tell them that you are there. They will understand that your disappearance is only temporary.

We have sensory bags available to purchase on our website at the link below. Each bag also includes unlimited access to our interactive online videos for early years

2. If they’re old enough, plan for later

You could talk to older babies and toddlers about what you’ll be doing later. You might talk to them about having dinner together later, the play date you’re taking them on after nursery finishes, or the book you’ll both read this afternoon.

With this you’re reinforcing the message that yep: you will be coming back. It’s also important that you follow your promises to build your child’s confidence.

3. Leave something familiar with them

A little toy they love or something with your smell on it, like a scarf or jumper, might comfort clingy babies.

4. Don’t weep in front of them

Yes, we know, leaving your baby for the first time at nursery makes you want to sob like a heartbroken 18 year-old. But wait. Smile, wave and then walk round the corner, find a coffee shop and a good mate and do your sobbing there.

The last thing a clingy baby will benefit from is picking up on your tension. It’s not always easy but try to shield them from your upset.

5. Wait it out

Your baby will not, we promise you, be clingy forever. One day, you will go to work waving them off at nursery happily. You’ll drop them at your friend’s house for half