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We’re separated from our baby for 4-9 days a month.
Q: Once a month, we are unavoidably separated from our 12-month-old daughter for 4-9 day stretches of time. She is in the loving care of relatives while we’re gone, but not at home. I am very concerned about this length of time, and would appreciate your input. She does not seem overly clingy or sad.

A: You are wise to show concern about the effect of these separations, as babies need consistent care. Also, around one year, what is called “separation anxiety” is often quite intense, and infants can show extreme emotional reactions when separated from their main caregivers. However, from what you write, it does not sound as though your daughter is having adjustment problems (not clingy or sad). She must have a good relationship with you and be securely attached to you; otherwise, you would have been likely to have more problems. You are fortunate in having relatives who provide loving care during your absence. I am assuming it is the same relatives each time; if otherwise, I think she would show signs of being upset.

Her behaviour will let you know if the situation is stressing her too much. Signs to look for include: a change in her usual activity pattern (becomes listless or hyperactive), resisting sleep, eating poorly, or whining and crying a lot. And don’t get upset if she resists leaving with you when you come to take her home; this is to be expected. It indicates that she is becoming attached to the people who substitute for you when you are away. This is a desirable state of affairs.