January 23, 2013

Moms, HELP!

Ok, moms, I need your experience and expertise.  Here's the dilemma: my cute 10-month-old son, Hayden, whom I adore, never wants to be put down.  

He has always been a little clingy, but it has gotten worse in the past 4 months.  I am trying to figure out how to get him to play with toys and explore with out having to be constantly entertained.  He is crawling now, and that has been a bit of a relief, but still, he cries a lot to be picked up.  This summer, while we lived with my husband's family for a few months, Hayden would happily lay on a playmat with toys hanging above for 20-30 minutes at a time. Of course, while we stayed with them, he always got lots of attention and there was always interesting things going on to watch with so many people around.  

Then we moved to our own place in the fall.  Now he is just with me all day while his daddy is at school and he is going bananas.  He's not the only one...ha!  And, currently, two minutes is the norm for independent play.  I enjoy talking to him, listening to music and dancing with him, and reading him books, but I don't think it's good for him to be entertained at all times.  Plus, I don't have the time.  I have dishes to do and the house to pick up, and he is too heavy to carry around.  It really got to a bad point after Christmas.  I wrote about it a couple weeks back:

"Due to getting sick several times and spending lots of time with adoring family, my baber had been held constantly for the past few weeks.  By the time we had visited both sides of the family and got back to our own humble abode, he came to the conclusion that he was the king of the castle and expected to never be put down.

That was obviously not going to fly. 

I read from a baby book I like (The Baby Whisperer Solves all your Problems) and the author said, "When parents tell me their child of six to nine months cries to be picked up after five or ten minutes of activity, I say, "Well, don't pick her up."  Otherwise, you're teaching her that when I make this noise, Mum picks me up...Instead of rushing to pick her up, sit down next to her and reassure her, "Hey, hey, it's ok.  I'm right here.  You can play on your own." Distract her with a squeaky toy or a jack-in-the-box."  

She then explains in the next section about nine to twelve month babies, "When a mother tells me, "He won't play on his own" or "He makes me sit with him, and I can't get my housework done" I immediately suspect a case of accidental parenting that probably started months earlier.  Baby cried, Mom picked him up immediately instead of encouraging him to play on his own."   

Now, from when Hayden was tiny, I would give him play time on a blanket.  But as he got a little older, it became very apparent that this babe was a social kid.  He wanted everyone's attention.  Then, a few months later, he started demanding it, with high pitched screams or by bawling.  

Now, I love that he smiles and flirts--I mean, come on, it is SO charming--but constant attention just isn't possible.  Plus I know that discovering and exploring on their own is how babies learn. To quote again from her book, "...As you gradually increase your child's independent playtime, you are also honing his emotional skills--his ability to amuse himself, to explore without fear and to experiment."  

At home alone with my baber, I had given up and given in too many times.  Most of the day, I was toting him around or sitting with him in my lap trying to get him to play.  It was too sad and hard for me to not pick him up when he wanted my attention (which was becoming all the time).  I was frazzled and frustrated trying to keep him happy, and his nap times were a frantic race to shower, read my scriptures, pick up the house, do the dishes, and eat a meal for myself.  I knew, for both of our sakes, something had to give.

So, after New Years, back at our own home, Patrick and I read the Baby Whisperer's advice and decided to give it a go.

We spent several days sitting next to our baber, talking in cheery voices, trying to distract him with books and toys--while he screamed on the living room carpet.  And we never picked him up during play time.  

It was not going too well.  I was forcing myself to smile and talk in a happy voice while he fumed.   

And…He was FURIOUS.

Momma, pick me up?


Fine.  I'll just throw a fit.  WAHHH...PICK ME UP.
Did it work?

We took turns to keep our sanity, and the poor babe (and parents) had a miserable two days.  However, we noticed little improvements, and the third day, he was finally getting the point!  He is playing better as long as we stay close to him.  We still have a long way, but things are looking up!

Fast forward a few weeks, and we are still trying not to give in when he screams at us, but pay plenty of attention when he is happy.  It has been nice that he can crawl around.  I'm actually happy when he gts into things...like, hallelujah, he's doing something besides crying and pulling on me!  So, there's been improvement, but he is still fussing alot.

Ok, MOMS!  I need your wisdom!  How do you help your babes be able to play independently?  What activities/toys/places did they love?  Is it just a personality thing and some babes are just more clingy?  And, if you had a super needy-for-attention baby, did they stay that way as they got older or was it something they grew out of?  

I would love to hear your comments! 

 UPDATE: Thank you SO much for all your ideas and encouragement!  Hayden is doing MUCH better.  He is still a very social kiddio, and wants lots of attention, but now he will actually stay occupied for five to ten minutes at a time with books or pots and pans so that I can do the dishes or make dinner!  It's a miracle!  Crawling, and now walking have brought him endless possibilities for getting around and getting in to things...and I'm grateful for that! :)    


  1. My oldest little boy is VERY social. He plays for hours when he's with other kids. But when it's just him and mom, we about both go crazy. I can totally relate to not being able to get anything done during the day because he just wouldn't let me. It has been very frustrating and many days, I just broke down crying and gave up.

    I wouldn't get too caught up in what the book is telling you your little guy "should" be doing. Kids learn and grow at their own rates. Literally, my son has only started to play by himself within the last WEEK. And he's two and a half years old. My advice is to just keep working with him and remember that he is only little once. If it takes him longer to learn independent play, that's ok.

    For my sanity, I just had to remember that it's a temporary situation and the most important thing was to just love and enjoy him. And when my hubby got home, I frantically tried to get everything done that I hadn't been able to do all day. (I also chose to have another child soon so that he had a buddy to play with. Haha. Not telling you to do that, though...) Just remember, it will get better. I haven't seen any 16-year-old boys following their mom around all day. :) Hang in there!

    1. Hahaha...good to know that my babe isn't the only one going crazy with his mom all day! :) Yeah, I think about having a second kid as a solution, but...for now I will just keep babysitting our friend's baby twice a week! He has so much fun with her. Thanks for the good tips!

  2. My little chica did that a little bit too. I've started to put her in her high chair next to me while I'm doing dishes or cooking and let her play. As long as she can see me, she's good. She's starting to crawl now too so I'll put her on a rug in the kitchen while I make dinner and play with her toys. I've also found the bouncy swing works too!
    Good luck Amy!

    1. Good ideas, Jamie! Hayden is just starting to crawl around in the kitchen, so that's been nice.

    2. Ooh! Good ideas, Jamie/Malachi!

  3. I do the same thing as Jamie, I just scoot my little girl over to where I am working and let her play while I get things done. On the days that Miranda is extra clingy, I just strap her to me in her baby carrier. That baby carrier has been a life saver. She does get a little heavy after a while, but I just do as much as I can before putting her down. Good luck with everything!

    1. Thanks Sarah! yeah, I should bust out our baby carrier..I am so wussy I haven't used it in a while. :)

  4. Chloe was my clingy baby and really, she wasn't too bad. She had an older sibling that entertained her. I remember putting down weird random household things on her blanket. A rag, some tupperware lids. Strange, but it is just something different than the usual baby toys. Balloons are fun. Of course you have to watch that it doesn't pop and then they eat it. Anyways, I also have to say that I love Tracy Hogg the "Baby Whisperer". She has some wonderful ideas. Good luck, Amy! It can be really hard to resist those cries.

    1. Thanks Melissa!
      That's nice to have an older sibling! :) I think we need to get Hayden a little dog...ha. I have never tried a balloon!
      Yeah, I love how Tracy Hogg explains things. I figure I have a lot to learn cause this is my first baby! :)

  5. Ellie has always been very social. She always wants attention and will literally ask for it when she feels deprived. But both of her parents were the out-going, attention seekers of their families so I can't blame her. She is also very clingy to me. We literally drive each other NUTS on a daily basis since she goes to work with me every day. What I've found works the best to hold her attention (even for limited amounts of time) are things that she's "not supposed to play with". So not toys. If she has something is mine or like mine and it makes her feel grown up I have the best chance at getting work done. So when she was younger that meant letting her play with the tupperware, pots and pans, shoes. Now that she's older she's into cleaning the house and putting on my makeup. So sometimes I let her drag the broom around the office or I'll put some sparkly nude eye shadow and chap stick on her or let her unload her dishes from the dishwasher or "count" the money in the office. I think for her if I can't give her attention she will settle for experiences, for doing something different than the same old, same old. Sometimes I hold her and play with her and give her whatever she's searching for and sometimes I lock her in the other room and let her have a tantrum while I hurry and help a customer. We just have to take it day by day.
    She's at a friend's house today by the way so since the office is slow I'm spending the day reading through your blog. Love it! I've cried, smiled and laughed multiple times.

    1. Whitney, Ellie and Hayden are long lost twinners! HA! I love your creative solutions. Yeah, it's SO nice that Hayden is getting big enough to get in to things; he is finally entertaining himself! Haha!
      Thanks for reading the blog! And, thanks for commenting! That's what makes this SO fun, to connect with other ladies. :)


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