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I used to think that people with clingy babies were doing something wrong…until I had one. My first was never super clingy except for the odd occasion. My second, on the other hand, was a mama’s girl from day one. The first year of her life it felt like she was attached to me at all times. That wasn’t true, of course, but that’s how it felt. We got through it, however, and I learnt a few things along the way.
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Realise It’s Normal
You’re almost certainly not doing anything wrong. Kids have different personalities. As I mentioned, my firstborn was fairly outgoing and confident in his baby days. My daughter, although very social, took a while (and still does) to warm up to new situations. It wasn’t until she was in her toddler years that she was comfortable with leaving me more easily.
Ignore Unsolicited Advice
I’m telling you to ignore it because you’ll almost certainly get it. Things that I’ve heard include:
- “You need to leave her with other people more often.”
- “Just let her cry.”
- “She needs more socializing.”
Can we just bear in mind that we’re talking about a baby here? Not a child, not a teenager, a baby. It is normal and natural for babies to want to be close to their mothers. For that reason, I suggest ignoring the ‘helpful’ advice. You can certainly work towards encouraging independence and confidence in your child, but never do that just because of other people’s comments.
Set Up Strategies
So, what can you do though? Because, let’s face it, having a baby that cries and pitches a fit when you’re not holding them 24/7 is absolutely exhausting. It also isn’t practical or safe to always be holding your baby. Although, in saying that, using a baby wrap or carrier is definitely something I’ve done, especially in the early days. So, while time fixes most things, there are a few more strategies that I used to help foster independent contentment in my daughter.
One on One Time
Have you heard of the 5 love languages? Did you know that children also experience love differently? This is important because sometimes behaviour can be corrected or more clearly understood just by understanding exactly how your child feels love. For my daughter, it is through touch and attention. It sounds silly, but finding a few minutes a day to just sit and give undivided attention to one child isn’t actually that easy. It’s one of those things that has to be intentional. For us, making sure to fit in some cuddle time and general interaction really helps with the clinginess.
One of my all-time favourite parenting tools. Allowing your child the opportunity to learn how to play on their own is such a huge benefit for them! It has so many payoffs for the entire family. Annie was not a fan of Independent Playtime when we first started, but at 20-months old, she now loves it. We remained consistent and slowly built up to the desired amount of time. It helped with separation anxiety and just made her more confident in her own company.
Learn more about Independent Playtime –> HERE.
Independent Sleep Skills
I know that sleep training isn’t for everyone. However, it works well in our home and for our family. It doesn’t always equate to letting your baby cry, but sometimes that is required. Regardless, one thing that really worked in our favour was having our children be able to put themselves to sleep without our help. Yes, we set up their sleep environments to be conducive to getting drowsy and sleeping soundly, but independent sleep skills were something we worked towards from day one. Babywise and Moms on Call are two of the main resources we used.
Why am I listing this as a strategy? Because it meant that even when we had a particularly trying day when Annie wanted mama all. day. long. I still got a break during nap times and then once bedtime came along. I’m not sure my patience would have lasted nearly as long had that not been the case.
Work It Into Your Routine
As my babies get older, I’m not opposed to them fussing for a few minutes while I deal with certain chores or other children. However, sometimes the crying just gets too much and for the sake of your sanity, and you need to figure out another strategy. That is why I recommend sitting down and looking at your daily routine. I have a post that covers setting up a productive routine as a stay-at-home-mama –> HERE.
Often times, babies are fussier at certain times of the day. For us, it is almost always around the 4pm-bedtime range. For that reason, I try to get most of the household chores done in the morning. When I can, I put dinner in the slow cooker, so that I don’t need to be sorting that out in the evening.
You know your child and your family. Figure out what works best for you all and then be intentional about your routine.
I hope the above tips help you out. It can be emotionally draining having a baby that only wants mama. I honestly do understand. It’s not that you don’t love them or want them, but everyone needs some space occasionally. The encouragement that I can give is that it really does work itself out with time. I sit here and think about how challenging Annie’s clinginess was during the first year, but you know what? It is just a part of her first year, it isn’t the highlight. 🙂 No, the highlight is the joy that she brought into our family when she arrived.
Until next time!
Hi! I’m Christine. I am a former registered nurse, turned stay-at-home mom, turned work-at-home mom!
Motherhood has always been my passion and blogging has only added to that and given me a creative outlet to share about the things I love.
As my blog has grown, my desire to share the knowledge of what makes my life less stressful, simplified, and more fulfilled has become one of my driving forces.
I have a heart for mothers that feel as though they are just existing from day to day and are longing for more. You can find out more about me and my family over on my ‘About Me‘ page.
As well as the abundance of posts you’ll find on my blog, you can also find me over at Today Parenting.