Why babies and children become calm when they are carried?

I bet many parents encountered this problem. Your baby / child is so clingy and keep requesting to you to carry her. Some of the reasons that you might hear from an elderly or people:

  • Because you directly breastfeed her
  • Because you carry her most of the time/ cuddled too much
  • Because you taking care of her full time

Whether directly breastfeed or bottle feed or formula feed, these baby will also be clingy. This is because when you carry the baby, she will feel safe. If you intentionally refuse to carry her, you will notice that the baby will be more nervous. Even if you send to full time baby-sitter or nanny, you will also find some babies who are clingy.


Why Baby/Child Clings?

1) Separation anxiety starts when baby reaches 6-8months of age because they start to recognise people faces and develop intimate relationship with mother/ main takers to feel safe. It will reach the peak at 1 years old, often continue until 2 years old and sometimes until she is well over five years old.

2) If breastfeeding and carrying frequency is intentionally reduced during daytime, the child will be crying or clinginess will be double or tripled.

3) If intentionally separate or practise refuse to carry the child, the child nervous system will be intensify. She may move into panic. As a result, the time to calm down the baby will be longer.

4) Emotion are contagious, if mommy is not in good state, the baby will also follow the same mood. If people keep giving more unrealistic advice or bad talk to the mother, the mommy will become more nervous. And the baby will become more clingy and request to be carried more often.

5) When at a new or unfamiliar environment, the child will be more clingy, wanted to be carried all the times, not looking at new faces or hiding. This is because the child is trying to find out if there is any danger and observing response of mommy. If I refuse to carry her at this moment, the child will grown up and easily feeling insecure. Also, her skill of danger observation will be highly reduced.

6) The child is afraid that mommy will be missing. Because a child brain is not fully mature, when she cannot see a thing/ person, she will think that it is missing forever. I am her world, her everything, I represent her very safety. As such, I will:

  • Tell the child that even she cannot see, but mommy is just around (kitchen/ bathroom/..etc) and doing something (cooking/ bathing/…etc).
  • Play hide-and-seek with the child (so that they will understand not there doesn\’t mean missing forever)

When Clinging Stops?

Respond with empathy and soothing if you have a clinging child. It is a great investment for child’s long term mental health and ability to be independent in later life. If you picked her up and carry her whenever your child requested, she will feel very safe.

As she grows, she will start to turn away from you and explore the world for longer lengths of time. She will spend longer and longer times away from you with her friends, knowing that you are always for her.  She will always return for emotional re-fuelling before going off again.

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