Loving your Velcro baby: How to deal with a clingy child

If your baby screams whenever anyone else holds her, or cries whenever you leave the room, know that you are not alone.

“It can be overwhelming to be the parent of a baby who wants to be held constantly”, says baby care author and mummy expert Pinky McKay, especially if he or she only wants to be held by you.

You’ve done nothing wrong

“Please be reassured, your baby isn’t clingy because you have done something wrong,” Pinky says. “You haven’t spoilt them, you have simply and appropriately responded to your sensitive baby.

“By meeting his or her needs for security you are helping your baby develop trust in you and later, this will extend to other relationships.”

Pinky recommends well-known US paediatrician William Sears who says loud separation protests reveal these particular babies have a capacity for forming deep attachments.

“If they didn’t care deeply, they wouldn’t fuss so loudly when separated. This capacity is the forerunner of intimacy in adult relationships,” Dr Sears says.

Try and see things from your baby’s perspective

While sensitive babies can be ‘velcro’ from very early on, it’s completely natural for all babies to have clingy patches as they hit new developmental stages, Pinky explains.

“Especially around six months of age as they realise mum and baby are separate people,” she says.

“It’s also at this stage that they start to perceive distance. This means their view of the world changes and they see mum or dad moving away from them. It can be scary until they adapt.”

“By supporting your baby through the clingy stages, she will develop trust and become independent in her own time. By pushing your baby beyond their emotional limits, it will take longer for him or her to feel secure and confident, so they could be clingy for longer.”

velcro baby

How to help your baby feel secure

Help a clingy baby feel more secure by carrying him or her in a sling, says Pinky. That way you can introduce other people gradually and avoid any intrusive poking.

“You can hold your baby as others interact with them, and then, as they get used to family members and close friends, you can let them hold him or her for short periods with you close by,” Pinky says.

Distance and separations can be gradually increased, as your baby grows more comfortable.

“If you need to leave your little one, leaving an article of your unwashed clothing, such as your dressing gown or a t-shirt, can be comforting for your baby.”

“It’s also important to be honest and say goodbye – have a goodbye ritual and return greeting so your baby can learn that although you may leave sometimes, you do come back,” the popular author says.

Read more from Pinky:

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