How to Cope With a Clingy Baby

By Shelley Frost
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You want to cuddle and bond with your baby, but too much time holding, rocking and soothing a baby who doesn't want to be put down is exhausting. A baby often shows a preference for a particular parent, especially as she gets close to 12 months, according to Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician and speaker on child-raising issues, on his AMA-cited website. Separation anxiety causes some babies to act clingy, while others are simply clingy by nature. Learning to deal with your baby's demanding nature helps you reduce your stress and better enjoy the infant period.

Step 1

Build the bond with your baby to increase her confidence. Showing patience, love and attention to your baby helps with the confidence boost, which helps her feel more comfortable venturing out on her own.

Step 2

Spend time together as a family so you baby develops an attachment to both parents. If mom provides most of the care, it's natural for baby to develop a strong attachment to her. Instead of dad staying in the background, get him involved as much as possible with care and play. Have him change diapers, feed bottles and play with baby during tummy time. As the bond develops with both parents, your baby becomes more comfortable going to either parent instead of clinging only to one.

Step 3

Follow your baby's lead to meet his needs while encouraging independence. Holding him when he needs to be held helps him feel secure. When he feels comfortable checking out his surroundings, allow him the freedom to explore -- with supervision, of course. Instead of scooping him up or rushing over for every little noise, give him some space.

Step 4

Meet your baby's needs on her schedule instead of trying to force her into the schedule that you think is right. Allowing your baby to nurse on demand provides her with nutrients and comfort that can reduce crying, according to Dr. William Sears, on the AskDrSears website. Watch for signs of hunger -- rooting, sucking, chewing on hands -- and signs of feeling tired -- rubbing eyes and yawning -- to know when to feed or put your baby to bed.

Step 5

Put on a positive face when your baby acts clingy or upset. If you show your frustration or anxiety, your baby is likely to show those same emotions. Those negative feelings make it more difficult for him to separate from you. For example, if you act nervous when you drop off your baby at day care, he may associate day care with your negative feelings. He may then try to cling to you more and resist staying. If he shows preference for only you, get really excited when your partner walks into the room. Show him that both parents are nurturing and safe by your attitude.

Step 6

Show confidence in a different caregiver when you plan to leave your baby. For example, if you hired a babysitter for the night, Dr. Sears recommends greeting the sitter in an enthusiastic, reassuring, anxiety-free way so your baby sees that she is a trusted person.

Step 7

Stay with your baby and the other caregiver for a few minutes so your baby can warm up to the other adult. Play and talk with ease, encouraging him to interact with the caregiver. This may allow you to leave without as much resistance from your baby. If your baby shows preference for you and not your partner, play together as a family in one room for positive interaction. Slowly allow your partner to take over the play. Move to another room to give your baby and partner time to bond alone. Avoid rushing back into the room if he begins to cry. Give your partner a chance to calm him.

Step 8

Take time to yourself, even if your baby cries when you leave. The separation may be difficult, but you need a break to regroup and do things for yourself. As she gets used to you leaving, the separation may become easier.

Step 9

Learn to deal with your baby crying. Even though it is frustrating, letting your baby cry if all of his needs are met is OK. That doesn't mean you should always ignore his cries or never comfort him when he is upset. But you don't need to soothe every single cry immediately.

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