Is this typical baby attachment behavior or red flags? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 01-26-2012, 10:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Our daughter came home at 6.5 weeks old after spending 1 week in NICU (she was a bit preemie) and the rest in our agency's nursery care.


She was a very difficult baby, cried all the time and extremely restless moving almost all the time. Turns out that she had reflux and milk/soy protein allergy that was making things worse. I mention this because it did affect our early time together and made it very difficult to feel like a happy family. Mostly we were all in survival mode.


She is now 2 weeks short of her 1st birthday, so she's been home for 10.5 months. She is much better but still a very intense high needs little person.


My 1st question is in terms of attachment. She has a very strong preference for me. I am a SAHM so i am with her all day, but even when my husband or her sisters come home, she still wants only me. If I am not holding her I have to be sitting down right next to her and she crawls all over me, on top of me. She is never more than a foot away. If I put her down or walk away she gets hysterical and follows me around truly screaming mama mama mama. Its nice to be loved, but I am worried that this is a little more than that, she seems so anxious when she is not on top of me. When my husband is home with her and I am not here, she is not like that at all and will sit and play with him and her sisters. She is a little bit like this with our dog (Carlos, but she calls him BOB) as well. She always wants to know where he is, always looking on the floor calling him and if he isn't near she yells for him to come. Its like she wants him in her field of vision at all times, but she doesn't cry and get anxious when he isn't around like she does with me. The dog thing is somewhat recent but she's been like that with me for a few months now.


My 2nd question is more of a general behavior one. She hits, bites, scratches. She'll look you in the face and claw at you, sometimes drawing blood. She isn't angry, excited, playful. I'll be holding her or giving her a bottle and she'll reach up and instead of touching my face she'll scratch it hard. She'll come in for a hug and bite my shoulder. She did this to my 6 yr old yesterday and left a big welt, and my poor 6 yr old was really upset. If you yell OUCH! or pull away, she just gives you this confused look. She has been doing that since she could really control her arms and since she got teeth. Admittedly, it does worry me a bit because my other daughter (who was also adopted as a newborn) was nothing like this. These seem more like older toddler behaviors, not behaviors appropriate for a small baby (starting around 6-7 months old... she started having full blown tantrums around 5-6 months old) I just wondered if anyone could shed some light on this and tell me what it could be and how to help!



Proud mom of three!  Special needs teen princess wheelchair.gif , 7 year old happy girl modifiedartist.gif , and my flower toddlerhearts.gif

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#2 of 8 Old 01-29-2012, 05:52 AM
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Hi Sesa, you have had a rough year!!


Listening to your description of your daughter, my first thought would be to think about temperament and to figure out if she just has a very intense spirited temperament. I like to think about the biological determinants that a child came into the world with before thinking about emotional disturbance. Many babies are just wired in a somewhat more anxious manner and they experience things very sensitively. Separation anxiety can still be very powerful for these babies until they are talking and can understand things better. I think there is even some guidance on babies in the book Raising Your Spirited Child (by mary kurcinka). This book also explains the temperament traits and what to do about them (things like persistence, difficulty with transitions, etc.) It can be a good place to start. The hitting and clawing can also be related to this type of temperament. A child that cannot express herself yet can get overwhelmed with frustration very fast.


I'm sure others will be along to help soon! Looks like it's been quiet on the Adoptive/Foster Parenting forum this weekend!


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#3 of 8 Old 01-29-2012, 11:49 AM
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Check out handinhandparenting parenting website. Amazing tools and resources for understanding the emotional world of or children. It helped so mug with us. And is super amazing insightful and feels soooo good as a parent. They have a bunch of articles about almost everything you are asking about. I think it wil help you. Hang in there it will get easier for you with some new insight and tools to help your family.
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#4 of 8 Old 01-29-2012, 01:58 PM
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What jumped out at me possible sensory issues. Check out for a checklist. Preemie experiences and chronic pain would both make this more likely to me. The separation anxiety you describe sounds like all 3 of my boys at different stages. The one with "attachment insecurity" looked similar at the younger ages to the other 2 but was more intense. The 2 with more normal attachment could be comforted and reassured when I dropped them at school/daycare, the one with attachment issues gets worse the longer I linger and try to reassure him. For him, quick is better.
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#5 of 8 Old 01-29-2012, 02:09 PM
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#6 of 8 Old 01-30-2012, 08:17 PM
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I would have someone else babysite here for a while to see what they think and also to help her learn social interaction a bit more. 

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#7 of 8 Old 01-30-2012, 09:43 PM
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My son was attached to my hip for years. He's 6 now and it's not an issue any more. My mom used to make snide comments as if there was something inherently wrong with him. 


I can't comment about the other stuff, but babies need their mamas, some more intensely than others. I love the saying, "The mother is the habitat for the baby."

Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing and living as gluten, dairy, and cane sugar free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.
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#8 of 8 Old 02-01-2012, 01:40 PM
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I don't know about 'normal' ....(both of mine are bio-kids)but I do know one of my kids was intensely attached to me till about age 5,and the other was intense in every aspect of life in general..... that 2nd one took a lot of my energy and patience, and I noticed as he got older,and less frustrated/more able to copy older brother and do what he wanted,his behaviors lessened quite a bit.

   He was always a biter/pincher/hitter (no library storytimes for this little guy)  when young,I stopped nursing him sooner than I wanted to b/c I had black and blue pinch marks all over my arms,and he bit HARD from the day he was born while nursing..... I think a lot of it was sheer frustration,he was intelligent enough to want to do things he wasn't physically or mentally ready for....

   FWIW, he became very sweet and easy to get along with as he got older. He still is a great kid. But he had to go at his own pace. And the super clingy kid? well,there are days when I long for that again...b/c it ended as he got older too.....(sigh)

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