Are all babies clingy?

Anne - posted on 03/15/2010 ( 9 moms have responded )

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I have been reading a lot of posts from frazzled mothers who's babies will not let them put them down. They want to be held all day long making it difficult for moms to do household tasks (unless your baby is happy to be in a sling). My baby has been like this too for several months. I wondered if any moms DIDN'T have this experience. Are there any babies out there who never go through the clingy stage? Just curious.

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Sylvia - posted on 03/19/2010

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I once met a baby who didn't seem to need to be held all the time. He had the most laid-back personality imaginable -- he didn't seem to see any difference between breast and bottle, he actually went 2-3 hours between feedings, he slept 5 hours straight at 5 months. He didn't crawl till 13 months and didn't walk till 18 months, but taught himself to read at age 4. He's 7 now and is just a very calm, quiet, laid-back little boy.

So, that's one baby. To put that in perspective, I started babysitting when I was 11 and have been closely acquainted with dozens of babies in my life, and that little boy is the ONLY one I ever met whom you wouldn't describe as "clingy". To be honest with you, I used to really worry that there might be something developmentally wrong with him. (There isn't.)

Babies, in general, need lots of touch, lots of skin-to-skin contact, and lots of attention from their caregivers in order to thrive. Some people theorize that what we think of as "high-need" babies are actually just the most successful at expressing those needs which every baby has. In a perfect world, new mums would have tons of help with housework, cooking, etc., from family and friends so that they could spend the majority of their time caring for the new baby (which will only be new for a very short time, after all...). Unfortunately, what actually happens is that new mums are under tremendous pressure to get back to their "normal" lives as quickly as possible, and this means we tend to see babies' needs in terms of their impact on our ability to get anything else done. Which is really too bad.

Tama - posted on 03/16/2010

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My kids have been through stages where they were clingy and stages where they just wanted to be put down. I used a sling when they were infants (in a cradle hold) but also used it later for them to sit on my hip or back. I'd recommend trying different types of carriers. Have you ever used a Mei Tai? I love that one and STILL occasionally use it w/ my son who is 5. You can nurse in it if you want and put the baby on either back or belly... whichever is convenient. Once I got the Mei Tai, I could get lots more house "stuff" done. Is there anyone you could "hire" to help? I got housekeepers (though we really didn't have lots of extra $ at the time) to come every other week and thoroughly clean bathrooms and floors. I did the dusting, etc. That really helped when they were in a clingy stage!

Neither of my kids have been in daycare. I do occasionally have sitters for them (a friend's DDs). Unfortunately I've no family in town. I quit my job to be with them. They are now 7 and 5 and we are unschoolers, so they don't do school or daycare. Some babies are happy to be left in daycare, etc. and some aren't. I'm sure some of that is their personality. My DD would have hated it! My DS might have been fine w/ it. For me personally, it was my choice to quit working and to spend my time with them. It gets easier as they get older and more independent. I remember going through periods where I felt like the clingy stage was a pain (but that was about me and not them) but I just accepted that was what they needed and went with it. Making friends w/ others w/ kids around the same ages was great! And I chose folks who parented in a similar way and had similar values (baby wearing, BFing, etc.) when possible so that we could support each other. Now, those folks and I often trade kids for playdates without parents there so that we can go to haircut appts, Dr appts, etc. and I know my kids are secure there b/c they have known the other mom for so long.

Beck - posted on 03/16/2010

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I am lucky to always be able to use family and occasionally (3 times) friends to care for Corey. Again, I get a twinge of sadness that Corey is happy to stay with anyone, I am soooo fussy about who he stays with and that I am never gone too long and he couldn't care less!! As long as someone is giving him a good time, he is happy!!! Its funny, I read all of your posts about your bubs being clingy and feel sad that my bub isn't... BUT I am also very happy that I know my bub is content with playing alone and enjoys our special play time through out the day for cuddles.

AnneMarie - In regards to your child care question... I used to work in child care and some children are fine, especially if started before 9mths when they 'usually' become clingy. Others though cry and cry! for weeks..its awful! Though, I think I had more parents leave crying when their children DIDN'T cry that they were leaving! hehehhe I used to have one Mum who would keep coming back in pretending she had forgotten things and made he little girl say goodbye so many times that in the end the little girl DID cry, when she had been happy! Though, the worst I had was in my family day care, I had a little girl with me 60hrs a week from 5mths old. She used to cry when her Mum came to take her home at about 11mths old, she was attached to me, I often had to strap her into her car seat in her Mums car crying and crying that she didn't want to go home! Hard for Mum!!!

Beck - posted on 03/16/2010

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My bub wasn't. He has days where he follows me room to room and wants more cuddles but he is happy to play alone while I go about my jobs. I have always used LOTS of communication through out the day so my bub who is now 12mths knows what I am doing. Lots of "I'll be back" or "I am just going to put the washing on" " Im just going to the toilet, I'll be back or I will only be a moment" I also encourage some individual play, this started from when he was 6mths. He is now happy to go down to the play room or into his room for 20-40mins and play. We also have several one on one play times during the day. We have a set routine and have since he was 6mths old when we were trying to 'fix' his sleep issues. Luckily the stratigies carried into helping with the day to day things as well.
I find that when he is getting tired or hungry the busier I am the happier he is to play. If I run around doing jobs around him he is content.
Good luck ladies with your 'cuddly' bubs! They are only little for a short time so enjoy it.

Tina - posted on 03/15/2010

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I agree with Marcy. I love the fact that my son loves me and wants to be with Mommy. I too, put him on the floor and play with him. Funny thing is that he is not as clingy with my husband (who is home with him while I work) but he plays for longer stretches for me or when I am home. My husband comments all the time that Dominick won't play long enough to allow him to do much. I think I will cry when he doesn't want me because he is a big boy. lol

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Anne - posted on 03/19/2010

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Thanks Beck. So we have an answer - some babies just aren't clingy. I partly envy you and partly know I'll miss the clingyness when it's gone! That poor baby who was in child-care 60 hours a week! She would regard you as her mum I guess! Can't imagine wanting my baby to cry like that other mum did. I agonise over whether I should even tell my baby I'm going or just slip away. Of course I tell her if I'm just nipping to the loo and I say I'll be back in a minute but on the few occasions I've had to leave the house without her I don't know what is best. I leave her playing with her granny and I know if I go back in and announce I'm leaving she'll run and hold on to me and I'll have to eventually pull her off me and she will cry. I worry she will think I'm rejecting her. If I just leave though she'll come looking for me fairly soon and when she can't find me she'll cry. Took a big step today though - sent her off in the car with her dad and granny and I waved her off and after a brief complaint that I wasn't going too she settled down to making car engine noises and enjoying the ride (she loves cars).

Tama thanks for those excellent suggestions. I will look into those different baby carriers. She hates the one she's got but there might be another she will take to and my arm could certainly do with a rest! Funny you should mention I've been thinking about hiring someone to help with housework. The place is such a tip though I'd need to find time to clear up first LOL! Is unschooling like homeschooling?

Anne - posted on 03/16/2010

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So it seems it really is something that all babies go through. I read about separation anxiety after my baby started doing this and I do carry her or hold her hand (she is now walking) nearly the whole day but I had not heard of attachment parenting or continuum concept. I must look them up. She started at about 5 months and is now 1year old. She seems to need it more if she is poorly. She was becoming more independent (and I suprised myself by feeling sad the period was coming to an end) and then she came down with a nasty flu and she went back to wanting to be held all the time - even after she was better. I'm not wanting to force her to be on her own or anything. It is difficult because she is heavy now and just doesn't like baby carriers but I believe she will be more independent and happy if she feels secure. Interesting you say about signaling Kathy. It sounds like you spend your day picking up and putting down like me! My daughter is only now becoming equally attached to her dad. It had made him rather jealous that she wanted to be with me all the time and I did come under criticism for spoiling her and he thought I was monopolising her but I didn't want to force her to go to someone else when it made her cry. So how do you all manage? I feel like I live in chaos - no time to tidy up or cook. My brain is scattered because when she is happy to be on her own for a minute or two I run to do a task and feel under such pressure I never remember what is was I wanted to do! Did you feel like that Macy? You say eventually you could make dinner - I guess there was a time when you couldn't without letting him cry?
I have wondered what happens when people put their child in daycare. I had to go to the hospital recently and didn't want my baby to be sitting in A&E with me so I left her with grandparents and she spent the whole day running around searching for me and crying. I'm not considering putting her in daycare -I'm fortunate enough to be able to stay at home but do any of you have experience with or an opinion on this? Sounds like your little boy is hapy with his dad even if he is not as attached to him Tina. But what happens when children are suddenly handed over to strangers at 6 months old? Are the children ok with it when they get used to the situation or do you think it's putting them through a lot of upset? Thanks to all of you for your interesting reposnses and I'd like to get more opinions from you. I'm curious as to how it is for everyone else.

Marcy - posted on 03/15/2010

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Up until my kiddo was about 9 months old he wanted to be on me all the time. Embrace it and cherish this time. The only thing I did daily was put him on the floor and sit across from him and play together. As he got older I could do this for longer periods of time and eventually I could fold laundry or make dinner w/o him freaking out. he is now 3 1/2 years old and just kicked me out of his room...how things have changed...:)

Kathy - posted on 03/15/2010

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all three of my children have been clingy at some time. for my last 2, once i knew about attachment parenting, continuum concept etc, i understood that babies are meant to be in arms, until they signal that they want to go down. i parented this was with my last 2 babies, and sure enough, they signal when they want to be put down. and they let me know when they want to be in my arms again! what's your view on it all?

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