Relationships Quick Answers
Why does my infant cry when I leave him/her with the other parent?
Between 6 and 8 months, infants develop stranger anxiety. They may act fearful or anxious around unfamiliar people. After divorce, an infant may see one parent less often than before, so they may show stranger anxiety around that parent. Infants usually feel most comfortable around both parents if they have frequent contact with both parents following divorce.
Many infants begin to show separation distress
some time between 8 and 12 months of age. Infants may
cry, scream, or cling when a parent is leaving. It is
very hard for an infant to be separated from a parent,
especially for a long period of time (overnight).
Separation is hard for infants because they have such
strong feelings for the parent. They want to be with the
parent all the time and they don't understand why they
can't. It is also normal for a baby to prefer one parent
over the other, typically the parent who cares for him
or her the most. When parents divorce, infants may
experience more separations and feel less secure. You
may notice an increase in your infant's separation
distress during the divorce process.
Source: Kim Leon, Ph.D., Former Human Development and Family Studies, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia
Last update: Wednesday, August 20, 2008