Separation Anxiety and Learning How to Walk

Updated on April 19, 2014
L.L. asks from Houston, TX
11 answers

My 11 month old son has separation anxiety bad i cant leave him with no one and i am trying to get it where he can spend more time with my parents and husband. Occisionally i can get him to stay with my husband but not very often. I dont know what to do.
Also my son is out growing his walker and walking all over his play pen and i cant let him crawl around because he will try to stand up and walk and i am afraid that he will fall and hit his head we have all wood flooring in the house and i have been talking to his doctor and she just tells me that its normal and his feet also turns in really bad and i dont know what to do . Does any one have advise?

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answers from Austin on

He needs to be able to fall. That is part of his learning. Let him walk barefoot, in the house, outside on the grass, on the deck.. Every toddler needs to learn this, it is a very important developmental stage for them.

This is also why he is going through separation anxiety. Each time a child is about to meet a new milestone, they can become clingy, even when they are older. Even teens! They may all of a sudden become home bodies for a few days.

You need to let him deal with it. Yes, he may cry, but that is normal.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

You need to hand him to your husband and our parents and go do what you need to he will be fine. It's hard to leave a baby crying but he will get used to it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

OMG let him out of the playpen and explore his world. So if he falls, he falls. He needs to crawl. He needs to stand. And yes he needs to fall!

If his feet turn In an orthopedist.

Separation anxiety. They are all like that at that age. Leave him with his father. Go out. Not just once but often. Your husband must feel terrible.
If he cries, he cries. He will be ok after a bit.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Your son will get over his separation anxiety in time. Sometimes you have to limit the time they spend with others, but it's unacceptable that he will not stay with his own father! I don't know what you mean when you say you can't "get him" to stay with your husband. The way to do that is NOT to wait until he stops crying - the way to do it is to give him a quick kiss and hug goodbye, say "Mommy will be back soon" and then leave. Period. Your husband is not his babysitter, he is his father. Child care is not optional. Your child won't learn to stay with anyone if you don't require it. Chances are he will not cry for long - kids that age are famous for fussing for 5 minutes and then getting tired of it. Don't sneak away, but do say goodbye and then leave, and stay gone for a few hours. Do this for a month, then have him stay part of the time with your parents and your husband together. Have your husband leave the room a few times while Grandma and Grandpa keep playing.

Your son should not be in a walker (not good for their legs at all!) or in a play pen (too confining). This is probably why his feet turn in - you've not allowed him to move properly. He should be crawling or walking and using those leg muscles. He will learn to walk on his own - some kids do it at 9 months and some at 14 months, so it's hard to know when is natural for your son. But you won't find out until you let him out to explore and work those muscles.

All kids fall. You are postponing it but you cannot avoid it. Kids have very hard heads and very thick skulls particularly in the front and the back. They don't fall as far as you or I do. They get bumped, they cry sometimes and other times do not, and then they move on. It doesn't matter if you have wood flooring - kids get bumps on carpeting too.

So childproof your house as much as you can - no breakable stuff, nothing important down where he can reach it, put safety guards in the electrical outlets, raise up venetian blind cords beyond his reach, install a gate on the stairs, and put any household chemicals out of reach or behind cabinet locks. You can get corner guards for sharp corners of coffee tables and fireplace hearths. There are safety products available everywhere and these are what all parents use to keep their kids safe and out of playpens. Put his toys and books in a place where he can get to them - a low shelf or a basket or a few storage bins. Let him develop naturally by going from one place to the other to get his things. Let him play on the floor but don't hand him his toys - let him go get them on his own.

Then take him outside and let him crawl around on the grass and learn to start walking. Kids need to get dirty sometimes! They need to play or walk in the sand! They need to dig in the dirt! They need to go on little nature walks and go to the park and go to the petting zoo. All kids learning to walk have a bump on their heads now and then, and they all have bruises on their shins. That's part of life. You cannot protect him from everything, and you will do him a great disservice if you try. When he falls, don't panic. Don't always rush over and make a big deal of it. Half the time, they don't cry anyway. If he does, just say "Whoops, you're okay. Let's try again." Don't fuss excessively. If he's got a little cut, just put a bandaid on it and keep going. (I always kept one or two in my pocket anyway.) But don't put a bandaid on everything - it's not a good lesson in life! Sometimes life knocks you down, you know? So you get up and keep on going!

We all want to protect our kids, so that's natural. And we do make them hold our hands when we cross the street, and we do make them wear seat belts, and we do make them wear helmets when they're riding bikes and scooters. But we cannot always protect them from every little bump or scratch, and we absolutely should not hold them back from exploring or walking or learning because we're afraid. That just creates more frightened children. You'll get better at this when you see that he can go through life, survive and have fun!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hi L..

On the question of walking, that's easy! It's okay if a baby falls from a standing height. Even on hardwood floors. Honestly, it's even okay if he falls on concrete. It's very, very rare for toddlers to hit their heads when learning to walk. At this age, they have strong reflexes. They'll either bend their knees as they fall backwards and fall on their butts, or their arms will extend automatically, and they'll break their fall. Of course, you want to be careful about dropping him if you're carrying him, and you don't want to leave him alone on stairs, because both of those are higher than his standing height. But if he takes a little tumble when he's learning to walk, that's normal and healthy and fine. He may cry, but he won't get hurt.

In terms of the separation anxiety, that's just a phase. He'll outgrow it. The best thing is to have your husband and/or parents play with him when you're around. When they're doing that, your job is to be extremely boring! Clean, pay bills, don't push him away, but don't engage with him either. (When they're not there, then you can be fun.) As he gets more comfortable with them, you'll be able to leave him with them more and more. He may still cry when he sees you leaving, but if he bonds with them, the crying won't last long.

Finally, if a toddler's feet turn in a little, he'll outgrow it, but if they really turn in a lot, that's something you want to bring to the doctor's attention.

Good luck, and don't worry about your son falling! It's part of learning to walk, and he'll be fine.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

Hardwood floors are a very safe place for learning to walk. The wood actually gives, unlike concrete or ceramic tile. But ya know, lots of kids learn to walk on those surfaces, too. We have hardwood floors, but my parents have ceramic tile. My kids practiced walking at their house quite often.

Let your son try walking. I bet he surprises you.

Also, he actually needs you to leave him with his father and with his grandparents from time to time. He needs to develop a relationship with them. He also needs to know that sometimes Mommy needs to leave, but Mommy will always come back!

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answers from Los Angeles on

You need to let him be free in your house. Protect him from things like the corners of tables, the hearth of the fireplace, climbing bookshelves, etc, but don't keep him from being on the floor! Both of my kids learned to walk on wood floors and they are both fine. Have him barefoot so he won't slip too much. Most falls will be on his bottom, not on his head anyway. You cannot keep him trapped in a walker or playpen all day. If you're that worried, buy some area rugs or a foam alphabet mat (the one from One Step Ahead is extra thick) so some parts of the house won't be wood. But seriously, how would anyone ever learn to walk if they could only be on soft surfaces?

As for the separation anxiety, you just have to do it. Start with your husband, as he should be the easiest one. Have your husband get more involved in his routines - giving him a bath, reading, putting him to bed, etc so your son is comfortable with him as a caregiver. Then, pick a couple of nights a week and go out. He will learn to adjust. Likewise, have your parents spend more time at your house so he sees them and plays with them. Then, leave him with them for awhile. Start with an hour. If he cries the whole time, it won't be pleasant but it won't be the end of the world either. Eventually he will stop getting so upset.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

Let him out of his play pen! He will never learn to walk in that small space. Don't worry about falls. Not that he won't have them. He will. Oh, and when he does fall, do not over react to it unless he actually does get hurt (which he probably won't). Just sit there and wait for him to react. He will take clues from you as to how he should react. If you do nothing, neither will he. Most times he will just get right back up and do it all over again.

As for his feet turning in, talk to his doctor. If there really is a problem I'm surprised the doctor hasn't said anything about it by now.

Most kids suffer from Separation Anxiety at one time or another. The best way to handle it is to separate yourself from the child. I know that sounds strange. Leave your son with his dad or grand parents and go to the store, go out to eat or just go for a walk. He will probably cry so make sure dad/grandma knows what to expect. Do this often. He will learn that when mommy leaves, it's okay, because she will be back.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You could keep your son in that playpen as long as you want, but at some point you are going to have to let him try to learn to walk. No matter how old he is when you do that, he IS going to fall. It's just the way it is. No one just stands up and walks perfectly from their first step. Like anything else, it is a learning process.

Play pens have their uses - they are great for allowing mommy time to shower or use the bathroom, or make a phone call, etc. But they should not be used to corral your child so he won't attempt to walk. You are stiffling his growth and development. If you had cement floors, then I would worry, but wood, not so much. He will probably get a goose egg or two but again that's natural and part of the learning process.

His feet turn in because you have stiffled his development with that walker and play pen. Let him get out and explore his world crawling and trying to walk. Let him grow up, momma!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

At 11 months he should be walking all over his playpen and trying to get out. You can't hold him back forever. He's not a newborn anymore he is a soon to be toddler exploring his surroundings. The only way to do that is to baby proof the house and let him go. Get a few baby gates to keep him out of areas. Get a few plastic bowls and a wooden spoon so that he can "pretend" cooking while you cook in the kitchen. Make sure he

As for the separation anxiety, it will take a bit of time. Go out and let dad and grandparents take care of him. He has to learn that there are other people who will care for him if mom is not there. It would be the same if you had to go to hospital. You also need a break from him to charge your batteries. Don't feel bad or guilty about you leaving him behind with family.

All will be right. Just do it. You two can go out to the park and play in the sandbox and swing on the swings this summer. He will be more confident in is abilities and you will be able to watch him grow and mature. Soon the terrible 2s will be upon you and this is practice.

I never had a playpen for either child. The apartment we rented was too small for one and they just played in the hall and were safe. By the time we moved again they were beyond this age. In fact I even gave my crib away while my youngest was small and she slept on a roll out bed.

They both fell down a bit but it I part of learning how to walk and balance on their feet. Carpet is a lot softer than cement but that's the only difference falling is falling and toddling and toddling is just that toddling learning how to walk. Soon this phase in life will be over and you will be on to something else.

the other S.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

It truly sounds like you are the one with all the

You leave, kiddo gets used to you being gone and does stuff with dad and grandparents. They know how to do this. You just have to let them do it. If you don't let little guy do his natural stuff he'll be behind the other kids.

2 moms found this helpful
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