BETA: We would really appreciate your feedback to help us improve and grow the service. We're listening!

Baby interactions

Have you got lots of questions about your baby's behaviour?

You are not alone, and the good news is there is lots of fantastic information and support to help you through this exciting but sometimes scary time.

You and your baby

Read time: 3 minutes

Your baby has their own unique personality from birth. Everything they do is about telling you what they need and how they feel. Babies are very good at letting us know something is wrong. they cry, they wriggle, their faces screw up in displeasure!

But it isn't always easy to understand what is upsetting them. You'll need to work out what they need or what they don't like by watching how your baby reacts to different things. You'll learn to read your baby and understand what their behaviour tells you. And meet their needs and comfort them when they need you to.

Because babies are all unique they all have different temperaments. This means some babies are calm and others can be more challenging.

Sometimes when you're tired or feeling stressed you might find it harder to tune into your baby. This is not because baby is being difficult or wants to upset you or doesn't love you – you are doing a great job! But babies are demanding and sometimes you will find it frustrating or exhausting. These feelings are a sign that you need to make sure you are looking after your own needs as well as those of your baby. Don't worry about doing everything right and trying to be the perfect parent. You'll be good enough by being yourself.

Are you are struggling to manage your feelings? Or do you worry that you are not able to tune into your baby? If so, it's really important that you talk to someone who understands and can help. Remember that you not alone - please call the Surrey-wide 0-19 Advice Line on 01883 340 922 for advice and support.

Separation anxiety

From around six-months-old, your baby may seem to be more nervous of strangers. And may cry more when they cannot see you. You might hear this called 'separation anxiety'. But what might seem to be clingy behaviour is a normal part of your baby's development.

Separation anxiety is a sign your baby now realises how dependent they are on the people who care for them. As your baby gets more aware of their surroundings, they don't feel as safe without you. They might sometimes feel unsafe or upset in new situations or with new people, even if you are there. This is normal behaviour and nothing to worry about.

Top tips for managing separation anxiety

Read time: 1 minute

Practice short separations from your baby to begin with

You could start by leaving them in someone else's care for a few minutes while you nip to the local shop. Leave your baby with someone they know well so they still feel comfortable and safe in your absence. Gradually work towards longer separations, and then leaving them in less familiar settings.

Leave something comforting with your baby

It may comfort your baby to have something they identify with you close by. Like a scarf with your scent on or a favourite toy. This may reassure them while you are away.

Make saying goodbye a positive time.

Even if you feel sad or worried when you leave your baby, smile and wave goodbye. Otherwise, they will pick up on your tension. And remember to have a happy reunion. This will help your baby learn that when you leave them with a smile, you will come back to them with a smile.

Look after yourself!

Parenting is a tough job, and have feel even tougher when your baby is going through separation anxiety. Remember, this is a developmental stage and it won't last forever. If you need a helping hand, reach out. There are many helpful websites and support services who help parents just like you. Try to stay positive, and remember to look after yourself.

Information from external websites

Barnardo's Family Space has a helpful article on baby's first year, and another great one on baby massage.

Family Lives understand how overwhelming having a new baby can be in this sensitive article on bonding with your baby.

The NCT also has 2 useful articles, one for dads on how to bond with baby and one for mums on bonding and getting to know baby.

The NCT has a useful article on how to cope with clingy babies and separation anxiety. It will talk you through what it is, the signs to look out for and tips for how to handle it.

The NHS also has an article on separation anxiety, and if you scroll to the bottom of the page it includes a handy video of what you can do when your baby (6-18 months) wants to be with you all the time.

Have a look at this informative Unicef leaflet Building a happy baby: a guide for parents. It offers advice and information on getting to know your baby and setting up the foundations for a close and loving relationship.

Struggling and need to talk?

Action for Children offer 1:1 chat with a parenting coach (Mon - Fri). If they are closed you can leave a message and a parenting coach will get back to you within 3 working days.

Family Lives has a free, confidential helpline, offering emotional support, information, advice and guidance on any aspect of parenting and family life. Call the Family Lives helpline on 0808 800 2222 (Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm and on weekends from 10am to 3pm).

NSPCC has a free, confidential helpline for parents looking for advice. Call 0808 800 5000 (Monday to Friday 8am – 10pm or 9am – 6pm at the weekends).

The Surrey Children and Family Health Advice Line is available from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays). They can provide support on all aspects of child health, development and parenting for families with children from birth to 19 years old. Call the Surrey-wide 0-19 Advice Line on 01883 340 922

Face-to-face support

You could also talk to your health visitor or your GP.

Useful video about baby interactions

Family Lives share a helpful video on how your baby sees you.

View on YouTube

If you need tips on looking after yourself, try tip 1 from the help with difficult behaviour section of the Families Under Pressure video collection.

Helpful tools and apps

Every time you talk, sing or play with your baby you're not just bonding, you're building their brain. The NSPCC has teamed up with the Vroom app to give you some fun and easy tips to help you bring even more Look, Say, Sing and Play into your daily routine with your baby. They will send you a new tip, tailored to your child's age, each week. Sign up and receive weekly brain-building tips.

Baby Buddy is an award-winning mobile app, created by mums, doctors and midwives and recommended by Children and Family Health Surrey and the NHS.

The app has lots of helpful information and videos about all aspects of being a new parent.

A web-based version is also available.

DadPad is a practical guide for new dads, developed with the NHS.

New dads often feel excited, but may also feel left out, unsure or overwhelmed. The DadPad can help by giving you the knowledge and practical skills that you need to give your new baby the best start in life.

The DadPad is available to order from DadPad website and costs £12.00.

You can also download the DadPad as an app for android and for IOS devices:

The NSPCC recognise that all parents can come under pressure or stress from time to time. The Positive Parenting guide shares practical advice and tips for parenting techniques that work well for children of all ages – from babies to teenagers.

Surrey's Family Learning and Adult Learning teams have developed a family wellbeing resource, with lots of tips on looking after yourself and your family during these challenging times.

Online parenting guides

Surrey residents get free access to an online guide that include top tips from childcare, education and NHS health experts

How to register

Registration is quick and easy. Go to the OurPlace website and use the access code 'ACORN' to get your free guide.

Access to the guide is unlimited with no expiry date, so you can return as and when you need and want to. Why not watch the Child and Family Health video to find out more.

Community support, courses and local help

Choose the area you live in for local services. Please note that due to coronavirus (Covid-19) very few community services are currently running.

BETA: We would really appreciate your feedback to help us improve and grow the service. We're listening!

Other people went on to view these pages

Date published: 22 Apr 2021