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How to Help a Clingy Child

She won’t let you out of her sight and wants no one else to be with her. A clingy child can be particularly difficult if you are reliant on a helper. Here’s some help on how to discourage this behaviour. 

You know that every child is different, but you weren’t expecting your baby to be so clingy and difficult to look after. She wants to be held only in your arms, and you’re afraid to ask even your husband or mum to help out. Whenever anyone else tries to hold her, she howls the place down. 

Of course, you want your little one to love you. Seeing her face light up with love the moment she catches sight of you makes you feel so good. But you have to discourage her from this “Mummy only” behavioural habit. Here’s why:

Your baby loses out

Your husband has a major contribution to make to your infant’s life, in terms of playing, sharing and chatting with her, as well as giving her love and affection. Demanding only you means she loses out on stimulation from Daddy. 

You’ll soon be exhausted

Once the initial thrill of knowing that your baby thinks you’re terrific, you have to get on with your daily routine. And as you’ve discovered, having an infant hanging round your neck all day, every day, is far too demanding.

Hubby will feel left out

It’s no fun being the odd one out in a house with three people. Almost certainly, he’ll feel rejected because he is not allowed to spend time with his precious one. And you can hardly blame him.

She needs to develop social skills

Your infant learns to feel comfortable with others through experiences of spending time with a range of people. The more relationships she has in life, the more likely she is to become sociable.

She learns to be controlling

If you pander to your bub’s insistence that only your arms will do, you run the risk that she’ll start to make increasing demands in many other areas, as well. As soon as you notice that Baby is clinging to you exclusively, wean her off the habit. Don’t wait until you’re fed up with her or until your husband complains that she ignores him. Point out to him that it has nothing to do with how effective he is as a father and that there’s no rejection involved; Baby’s demand for you alone is simply a behavioural habit, nothing more. Work together with him to make a change.

The fact that she only wants you to hold her doesn’t mean that you have to give in to her every single time. Have the confidence to decide when enough is enough. Despite her distress when she realises that Mummy’s not with her, you can rest assured she won’t suffer any deep-rooted psychological trauma from having someone else play, change or cuddle her. That’s why it is vital that the she spends time with Daddy (or other carers), no matter how much she moans and cries. 

Insist that your man gets involved even if she screams and desperately looks around for you. She’ll eventually settle down and get used to being cared for by someone else. Within three or four weeks, you’ll be delighted to wean her off her Velcro ways.


By Dr Richard C. Woolfson, Young Parents, October 2015

Photo: 123rf.com

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