Got a clingy baby? I hear you. My 10-month-old basically cries hysterically nonstop unless he’s in my arms. Here’s how I’m handling it and still managing to get stuff done.
Why are they so clingy?
It’s a known fact that babies go through a clingy phase (also called ‘velcro babies‘). But why does it happen? Separation anxiety is the cause and it usually happens around the 9 month mark because – get this – babies have only just worked out that their mothers and they are not the same person! So once they’re clued up to the fact you’re a separate entity, and therefore can leave them at any moment, all hell breaks loose when they leave your arms or you stop looking at them (shame on you). Suddenly hanging with Dad, chilling on the play-mat or anything not involving you is simply not good enough, it’s time to to get clingy. They are not going to let you out of their sight.
Life with a Klingon
As much as I love cuddling and playing with my son, having to hold him every second he’s awake is a real pain in the arse if you want to get anything done. I’m not talking about work either here, I mean basic stuff like cooking dinner, making beds and having a shower. I literally have to hold the shower door shut with my foot while he cries on the other side like a tiny prisoner on visitation day. And at least ten times a day he manages to pull my pants down in his efforts to climb me (I think I need to wear a belt), or otherwise he’s clinging on to my legs like one of those old toy koala clips. It’s insane.
So what am I doing about it? As tempting as it is to just hold him all day long, the house would definitely fall apart so I’ve taken a more strategic approach. Here are my tips:
1. The baby carrier is your lifeline
My baby lived in a baby carrier when he was little (shocking reflux), but as he got bigger we stopped using it. That is, until now … Yesterday I strapped him in and managed to take out the recycling, empty the food scrap bin in the garden compost, walk up to the chemist, unpack the dishwasher, sort laundry and make all the beds. Aside from the odd hand flying out to try and grab an empty wine bottle or sharp knife, it was easy street. Even my husband finds the carrier works for him too, it is not gender biased so if you don’t already have one, get to the shops.
2. Sultanas and peas – stock up people!
When they’re in this clingy phase, babies rarely sit happily in the high chair for long, allowing you to cook meals and do other things. That is unless you have sultanas or peas on the tray! My bub sees these roundish items as a tasty challenge, putting all his focus on the eating task instead of freaking out that he’s not on my hip. I’m sure you could try other food too, but just remember not to put anything down like uncut grapes that might be a choking hazard. As long as I don’t run out of sultanas or peas, I can get at least a good 30 minutes out of the high chair. Just don’t forget to strap them in or otherwise it’s free standing party trick time.
3. Fill up a bottom kitchen drawer
An oldie but a goodie. Fill one of your bottom kitchen drawers with safe yet intriguing items like wooden spoons, plastic egg cups and basting brushes; and then casually leave it a smidge open for them to discover and rip into. This works like a charm when I’m preparing meals (do I ever get out of the kitchen?), but doesn’t usually last as long as the high chair or baby carrier because my tempting legs and pants are within easy reach. Also just remember not to step on your baby as they are literally right under your feet.
4. Take ‘forbidden’ items room to room
My baby loves remote controls and hair brushes, so I found some old ones we don’t use anymore and now take them into rooms with me when I need to do things. I put them slightly near him and say ‘No! Don’t touch this!’ and hey presto! A certain small person is distracted and I can crack on with the chores. Madness? I call it magic.
5. Run and hide
If your partner or someone else is looking after your baby and you’re still at home (like I am when I’m working), DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT let yourself be seen or heard. Your baby might be happily distracted and have forgotten all about you, but the minute they realise you’re somewhere close and they can’t access you, cue satanic meltdown. So go into another room, shut the door, whisper on the phone – whatever it takes, DO NOT let them find you.