Why I really hate the word ‘clingy’

Posted in Family.

I really hate the word ‘clingy’. I hate the negative criticism that has been levelled at me about having ‘clingy’ babies. 

You need to put the baby down.
They must learn to self-soothe.
It’s time for a routine. 

Babies are meant to be clingy

I often found myself reflecting on these words of advice, in defence of my choice to keep my babies close. 

Oh well, she just won’t be put down.
She will only sleep this way.
She only settles in the sling or at the boob.
Well, I need my hands free to clean the house.

As if there is a prize for the day you can put the baby down or the times they will sleep on their own … and I was doing it wrong until they were off me.

But here’s the thing, babies are meant to be clingy. And from now on I’m going to stop using the word.

Mother holding sleeping baby in arms - feature


That word says to me:

Something is attached to me and I don’t want it to be.
I’m trying to shake it off.
It’ll be better when I don’t have something clinging on.
Clinging on for dear life – danger of panic.
It’s weighing me down …

So how about the word ‘close’ instead? 

My baby stays close to me.

That word makes me think of being warm and cuddly and allows for interdependence. It also implies there is a choice to be made, and we are both choosing emotional and physical closeness. It suggests a feeling of togetherness, a mutuality, rather than forced non-separation. And, in all honesty, it’s a level of bonding we strive for. 

And then it feels easier. Being close to my children is my goal. Not to become separated and distanced, but to be close.

And for a baby that means physical closeness. Whether that is in the sling, or at the breast or in my arms. As my children grow bigger we carry on being close and find new ways to remain close.

And when the days are long, and the challenges are great, I will try to remind myself it is closeness. Foundations of love. From the very beginning.

Ditch the clingy. Welcome the closeness.


This article originally appeared on Naturally Happy Families. Read the original post here


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