Clingy baby - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 07-31-2014, 10:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Clingy baby

I am having a very hard time with my 7 month old. She's mostly a good baby. She likes other people, will play with her siblings or crawl around and be happy. She doesn't like it if the person holding her is sitting down, but that seems pretty normal to me. Her brother is holding her right now, and she can't even see me, and she's fine -- so it's not like she can't stand to be away from me at all.

However, she has ALWAYS hated being in the car. She screamed the whole way home from the hospital, and continued screaming hysterically pretty much every time we put her in the car for the next four months. We tried everything: checking that the car seat wasn't hurting her, that she wasn't too hot or too cold, that she didn't need a change or to nurse, the kids played with her and tried to cheer her up, we sang her lullabies, and we even gave her a pacifier. Nothing helped. When she was four months old, we bought a new car seat and she stopped for a couple of weeks. Then she started again. I would say that now she cries about half the time she is in the car, maybe more. Part of the time she isn't crying is because she already cried herself to sleep. The only thing that consistently helps is having me sit in the back seat next to her, touching her face and shushing her until she falls asleep. This is obviously not an option when my husband isn't with us, because I have to drive.

Worse, she hates being held by her father. For months, she cried every time he held her. Now he can sometimes play with her, but even then she sometimes suddenly goes from happy and cooing to screaming inconsolably. We can't figure out why. And if she's asleep on the bed next to us, and I pick her up, she just snuggles up against me. If Daddy picks her up, she immediately wakes and starts crying. With all of our other kids, Daddy was magic at getting them to sleep. Roisin won't even let him try.

We co-sleep, but I need her to take naps in her own bed. It was difficult to get her to sleep in her bassinet, but if I got her sound asleep and laid her down carefully, she'd stay asleep. Then she got too big for the bassinet, and we bought a crib. No matter how soundly she is sleeping, the moment I start to lay her down she wakes and begins to scream. I have been trying to pat her, and sing to her, and just stay with her until she goes to sleep, but she shows absolutely no sign of calming down, and I eventually give up. I can't stand the idea of leaving the room while she cries.

Finally, I have been trying to take her to the nursery at church. My other kids were going to the nursery by this age, and I would like to start doing Bible study again. But she gets hysterical as soon as I hand her off, and screams until the nursery workers finally call me back. Last week I sat in the nursery and played with her for a little while, and when I went to grab one of her toys from the diaper bag (across the room), she freaked out.

I don't understand this. None of my other kids were like this. I don't know what to do, and I am at the end of my rope!

Michelle, wife to DH, and momma to DD16, DS15, DS12, DS10, DD9, DD7, DS5, and baby girl born Christmas Eve 2013!
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#2 of 3 Old 08-01-2014, 08:09 AM
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Clingy baby advice

Sorry to hear about your challenges. When my son was seven months he went through some of this, and I have a little girl in nursery at church who is ~18 months with some of these challenges. The best thing I can recommend is just listen to your child without letting your fears/frustration/stress/anxiety get in the way (which I'm sure you're trying to do, no criticism implied) Try and hear past the screaming to what is bothering her. Sounds to me like she is afraid of several things [separation from mom, dad's presence/interaction with dad (which she may equate to separation from mom), being alone], and just needs to be with you. It is very exhausting, but she will eventually grow out of it - my son did. Don't set your expectation for her by comparing her to her siblings - she has a different personality and needs different things (for example, some kids are just not ready for nursery until they are older, or do better being dropped off by dad or an older sibling). Try and contain your worry, fear, and frustration so that she can't sense it (not easy, I know) and be calm about the transitions you force on her. For instance, my son didn't want to sleep in his crib at bedtime, but for our sanity, we had to put him into it and just walk away. We found that if he was tired enough (we judged the timing right), he would go to sleep after less than ten minutes. If we did not judge the timing right, he would cry for hours (only did that once - I couldn't stand to hear him cry either). Our rule is, if he cries more than ten minutes (or sounds totally desperate and not tired), we go back in to see what's wrong and try to rock him or sit with him again. There have been a few times we just let him stay up for another hour or so until he was tired enough to sleep, but we try not to make a practice of it so he doesn't get to expecting it. We gave up on naps at home in the crib at a young age because he just didn't get tired enough to accept the crib during the day. Then, months later, we discovered that he would take naps on my chest (after a 10-15 minute protesting cry), and since he's currently the only baby we have, that's how we do it. Mom and son get a 2-3 hr nap each day around noon. I don't get much done of course, but him being rested/happy and not feeling abandoned is more important to me. You might also see if you can make the room with her crib completely dark. We found that made a big difference with my son being willing to give in to sleep. Now he expects to sleep in his crib at night, and I sit next to the crib until his breathing slows (showing he's asleep), which usually takes less than ten minutes. We avoid any feelings of abandonment but at the same time can get things done for a few hours before going to sleep ourselves. Not sure exactly how you would apply these thoughts to co-sleeping, but I thought the principles or example might help. There's a delicate balance between meeting the needs of your daughter, the rest of your family, and yourself, but make sure you have time to recharge your batteries.

Try and figure out why she is afraid of your husband. Is he not around a lot? Has he not historically shared diapering, feeding, comforting, etc. since day one with her? Is he uncomfortable around her or does something/wears something (like a hat or a beard) which scares her? Has he tried a time or two to do things with her she doesn't like (hair washing for instance), and it made such a big impression she remembers it every time she sees him? I found with my son, that there was always a good reason for him to be having a fit, which might not be to me a sufficient reason to have a fit, but made perfect sense to him. It is okay for her to cry a bit, as long as you are working on figuring out what's wrong - focus on finding out the solution rather than feeling bad and guilty because she's crying (hard, I know!).

You mentioned you go to church - a lot of times personal revelation through prayer can strengthen your mother's intuition to help you figure out what's wrong. Sometimes, that's the best and only way to find the answer that works for your family. Good luck!
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#3 of 3 Old 08-06-2014, 09:50 AM
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I don't have many suggestions, I just wanted to say that a lot of your story resonated with me. My first two kids would cry inconsolably in the car unless I was nursing them in their car seat (which was quite painful on my ribs and didn't work out when I was driving). My first child started tolerating the car at 11 months, my second at about 15 months. However, thankfully, my 2 month old is really good in the car, at least for short 10 minute trips which is all I usually do.

My daughter is almost 2.5 years old and I still can't leave her at the children's mass without her crying for me (even though her big brother is there with her happily playing). I've tried leaving her a couple times recently and come back to her beign consoled by the teacher with red eyes and a tear streaked face. Her older brother was the same way until he started preschool (which took 3 weeks before he stopped crying at drop off).

My only advice is hang in there! I know it's really frustrating for you, but I think it's a good sign that she's so attached to you. Maybe this sounds awful, but my 2 and 4 year old are extremely well-behaved and polite, I think mainly because they really want to make me happy and not disappoint me.

SAHM of newborn boy, 2 year old girl, and 4 year old boy. Visit my website:
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