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My baby only wants me to hold her!

 I am new mom to an 11week old daughter. Since she has been born I have pretty much carried her (in my arms or a sling carrier) most of the time. I also had not planned to co-sleep but it has been what felt right since she came home from the hospital. Recently she wants nothing to do with anyone but myself. Family comes over and wants to hold her and they maybe get to hold her for 2 minutes before she starts hysterically crying! They try and calm her down by walking around the house and talking to her but she just keeps screaming uncontrollably. All I want to do when she cries like that is take her away from them because I know that once she is in my arms she will immediatly become calm again. I am just at a loss as to what to do? If I should just politely take her away from them and calm her down or should I really be allowing other people to try and calm her even though she cries so hard she almost gets sick!? It just breaks my heart to see her so upset and scared especially knowing that if I hold her she will stop crying. The worst part is she even does this to her dad now. He gets time with her in the evenings when they play and she is calm and happy but if she starts screaming she will not stop unless I take her in my arms. I have been trying to let him try and soothe her. He will try and talk with her and hold her but after like 10 or 15 minutes she has cried so hard she doesnt even have a voice left and she starts coughing and choking from her screams...so I then take her from him. He is starting to get really frustrated (understandable!). He told me last night he thought that she was too dependent on me and that maybe if I didnt carry her around all the time that she wouldnt act like she does when others hold her. He thinks she should be able to start self soothing a little bit. I just dont agree with that. I just dont know what to do? I feel like I am doing everything I can for my daughter right now but I am starting to question whether or not I am holding her back in some way from being close to other people, mainly her dad!? I have felt like the right thing to do is try and let her be with her dad as much as possible when she is calm and happy but when she starts to scream to take her back because I feel like maybe then she can become more comfortable around and not associate him with crying and screaming?! But I really do want him to be able to soothe her too! I would love some feedback or opinions!


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 30th, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC)
Gently remind your husband that she is a BABY. They are, by definition, dependent. That is not a bad thing. He may be feeling a little hurt by her reaction, annoyed at himself for being hurt, and because she's only a baby, is putting the 'blame' on you.

She won't always be like this - a few months down the line, she may decide Dad is lots of fun and you're interesting only for the boobs!

Letting her cry until she's out of breath is not good for her. When she's crying hard like that, she's not breathing normally and it's possible that she may be getting less oxygen to her (rapidly developing) brain.

Let her become independent on *her* schedule. She will, I promise - and she'll do it more securely if she has a strong base of emotional security that results from having her emotional needs met, not from having independence forced upon her.
Jun. 30th, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
holding her when she needs you will make her *more* secure and independent, in the long run, because she'll learn that she can get what she needs when she needs it. right now, she needs you.

it won't last forever. and she will learn to self-soothe. but self-soothing does not mean that she will learn how to not cry when something is upsetting her. if she doesn't want to be held by someone, she can't just walk away. so she cries. and she needs you to help her.

If dad is feeling left out, has he tried bottle-feeding her? or giving her baths or something else that she might enjoy? She might just be in a mom stage and that's okay. like the pp said, he'll get his turn. he just has to be patient, be the grown-up, and let her grow up on her own terms.
Jun. 30th, 2009 05:12 pm (UTC)
Your daughter is totally normal. Its a perfectly healthy attachment at 3 months old. Mama is their world, especially if they are breastfeeding.

She'll learn to trust and enjoy others as you listen to her needs. So she can be in Daddy's arms for as long as she's happy. And when she gets upset, back to Mama for a while. Its a hard phase, but it doesn't last forever. They need time to build their bond.

Does your husband wear her in the carrier? That can be awesome.
Jun. 30th, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
My daughter was the same way until about 6 months. (She's 13 months now and happy to be held by just about anybody she knows.) It's perfectly normal for her to want *just* you right now. Daddy will have to deal.
Jun. 30th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)
Trust your instincts. She is a tiny baby - of course she is dependant and of course she wants her mother all the time! She will be self soothing before you now it and in my opinion forcing her into it will delay it. Ditto on the omg you're not my mommy.
Jun. 30th, 2009 05:35 pm (UTC)
My daughter was like this at that age, too. Now at 8 months she's just choosy. She likes some people and others scare her if they grab her up too soon. He needs to understand she's a baby and she needs whatever or whoever comforts her. She will constantly change.
Jun. 30th, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC)
You're totally doing the right thing. You're her comfort zone, she needs you, she'll be independent soon enough.
Jun. 30th, 2009 07:16 pm (UTC)
You are exactly right. What might help your family and her father is to know that your daughter is also exactly right - naturally speaking.

Babies are born with many natural instincts. These instincts are very powerful and are designed for the baby's survival. In modern society, it's okay for the dad or other people to hold the baby, but the baby does not know that. The baby is programmed by millions of years of evolution to cry for its mother when someone other than the mother takes her. Obviously this instinct isn't as useful today as it was five thousand years ago, but babies don't know that and there is no reasoning with them.

In fact, letting your baby cry for any length of time while someone else tries to soothe her may even cause her to develop a negative association with that person. It's best to take your baby right away before she can work herself up at all. She's expressing her distress (literally true terror for her life) and you are so so right to want to take her right back.

Most babies go through a stage like this for a while, especially when they are newborn. She may not adore her father now, but there may be a time when she prefers him over you. It's all about what she needs at a certain point in time and right now, she's saying that what she needs is you.

Your family may want to hold her when she cries, but it may be that it's not good for anyone. It terrifies the baby and causes her huge amounts of stress, it stresses you out, obviously (and hearing your baby cry can cause your maternal instincts to turn off which isn't good), plus it stresses out the person holding the baby. They may want to hold her, but who can really enjoy holding a baby that is obviously in distress and totally freaked out by them?

Pretty soon she will LOVE going to other family members and they will forget all about how she cried when she was little. If you want others to be able to get close to her at this age, it's a good idea to let them hold her often, but take her back right away when she's in distress and then you can sit somewhere with her with that person while she is calm. I used to hold my daughter in my arms while snuggling with my husband. That way, he could hold both of us and she would not cry. Family members can sit next to you and stroke her hair or hold her hands while you comfort her if you're okay with that.
Jun. 30th, 2009 09:57 pm (UTC)
it's hard but so worth it.
i go through both sides of this situation MULTIPLE times a day. i am struggling with both what you're going through AND what he's going through. i'm dating my best friend of five years and her two daughters are now my daughters, but i didn't start parenting them until they were one and three (now 2.5 and 4.5) and the little one is SOOOO attached to bio mom from LIVING in a sling and go-sleeping until september 2007, right before she turned two, and is still sort of co-sleeping. It's what was right for her, it's what has built this unbelievably unbreakeable spirit she has. BUT the downside is that when she's really upset or really tired or just in general sometimes, she has NO interested in me whatsoever. It really really hurts to know all the work i put into raising this child (i was basically full time sahm for almost a year, up until a couple of months ago). It hurts every time i try to get up with her in the middle of the night and she screams at me that she doesn't want me, even when i know she'd take me were bio mom not home. We recently figured out that her incredibly clinginess to bio mom was from wearing her and co-sleeping. i am not AT ALL against it, i think it's what's best and i strongly believe it will make her (and has so far) this strong willed independant child. the older one was not quite so worn and co-slept and has more insecurities. Do what YOU feel is right but always remember to listen to him. i say the exact same harsh things to my wife and this animal part of me knows that what's best for her is what hurts me. keep reminding him it's a blip and she will be so much better for it. it's probably the hardest thing i've ever done and it hurts SO much, but i remind myself multiple times a day. it is NOT easy for me and i'm sure it's not easy for him at all either, but just keep communication REALLY open and constnatly remind him it will build and incredible PERSON. remember, you are building a PERSON, not a child.

good luck. it's getting better on my end, i just have to remember all the times she looks up at me with these amazingly huge eyes and tells me how much she loves me. And if it helps, remind him that it means he gets to sleep more than you. :P i know it might not help, but sometimes it helps me smile a little.
Jun. 30th, 2009 10:11 pm (UTC)
Mine was a "scream until he vomits everywhere" if I put him down more than a few minutes, so I know where you are coming from. He did this from about 2-5 months, then suddenly other people were great and funnier than Mommy, except when he wanted to eat.

Still, my son didn't really want his father until his father became a primary caregiver from 9-12 months when I had to go back to work. It was hard the first week or so, but then he adored Daddy as much as me, and that lasted through his toddler years.

Your husband has to understand that seeing her for a few hours at night is not going to make a big impression on her at this age. As far as she is concerned, the only person in the world she needs or wants is you, and that won't change yet. He needs to start making an effort to spend long blocks of time with both of you together so she can slowly get attached to him as well while feeling secure with you, and he needs to understand that she really isn't old enough to recognize anyone but you physically at this age. It will be different in a few more months.

This will pass, and you're gonna miss it one day ;)
Jun. 30th, 2009 10:37 pm (UTC)
As they get older, it changes. Mine was very similar, and now that he is 8 months, he can have fun daddy time, but still, when he is upset, he mostly just wants the boob-I mean, mom.
Jul. 1st, 2009 12:04 am (UTC)
Absolutely follow your instincts. They are there for a reason! Babies are supposed to dependent on their mommies and you are all she has known for nine months plus. At first my daughter (now almost 6 months old) was hesitant to be with others, but with her father especially, the lactation consultant recommended tummy time with daddy (like kangaroo care) where you let the baby sleep and cuddle skin-to-skin with dad. The baby at this point in life mainly uses scent to identify his/her caretakers. They know just by smell when mom is around. By letting the baby snuggle with daddy like this they will get used to the idea of having TWO caretakers. I truly and honestly believe, too, that bedsharing/co-sleeping helps a lot too. We bedshare and sharing a bed with daddy helped her acclimate to his natural scent, too!
Jul. 1st, 2009 04:55 am (UTC)
Always try to put yourself in the baby's booties. Baby can't do anything for herself, mommy is her only source of food and security, and then these strange other people try to do things with her? So she says, "Mommy, come get me! I need you to make it better because I don't know how!" and if mommy doesn't come get her, she says, "Where is Mommy? Don't abandon me, I need you." And the more these strange non-mommy people hold her and Mommy doesn't show up, the more terrified she becomes that Mommy isn't coming and that's what these strange non-mommy people mean: no more mommy. That's a pretty terrifying thought for a baby, and not much fun for grandma and grandpa and daddy.

A baby who is confidant that mommy will come and get her when needed will be much more accepting of others than one who is terrified that something will go wrong and mommy won't come.

And no, an 11 week old baby isn't capable of self-soothing. Hell, if toddlers were better at self-soothing, they'd have a hell of a lot fewer temper tantrums.
Jul. 1st, 2009 10:31 am (UTC)
I agree with the person who suggested Dad puts her in the baby carrier... that was one of the things that has worked really well with our baby girl. Also, although you're almost at the end of the "fourth trimester", have you tried the 5 Ss "cuddle cure" from Harvey Karp -- swaddle, swing, shush, side and suck. This works with my partner... it's not Mum holding her, but it's still womb-like: a tight swaddle, lie her down on her side on his knees, rock the knees from side to side and give her his finger or thumb to suck = instant calm. She's 5 months old now and doesn't take the finger any more and barely needs the knees to move, but if she's really upset for some reason, he can still calm her with a swaddle and lying on her side where it would just take a quick cuddle from me. What that means is that I can leave the house for an hour if I need to and know that there is *some way* that he can calm her if need be. It also means he feels involved and not shut out.

Once you get past the fourth trimester, babies who have confidence will start to soothe themselves (ours just babbled herself to sleep tonight instead of nursing for the first time ever!!) but 11 weeks is way too young.
Jul. 1st, 2009 12:08 pm (UTC)
"They try and calm her down by walking around the house and talking to her"

Well that there is the reason why she gets hysterical with them. If they would just give her back to you as soon as she starts crying, which is what she wants, then she'll probably learn to relax with them.

I do think you should let her learn to accept comfort from her dad too, but not from everyone else, she'll let you know when she is ready to be comforted by someone other than you and daddy. My daughter loves baths, so I get my husband to give her bath every night, and that gives the two of them the opportunity to bond.

There are ways to teach her to self-soothe, such as giving her a dummy or a 'lovey' to comfort herself with, but I think that 11 weeks is too early to expect any success with this. My daughter was 8 months old when she started being able to self-soothe when left alone in bed with her lovey.
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