Clingy Babies

Archived Q&A and Reviews

My 9-month-old boy, formerly very gregarious and open to new people, has recently become extremely clingy and doesn't want to leave me, his mother, at all. I'm home with him full-time, but I've been leaving him with a babysitter one evening a week. He's been getting progressively more upset when I'm gone; this week he cried hysterically for three hours straight. The babysitter doesn't want to come back, and my baby has been acting even more anxious and fearful since then. At this point he cries when someone else holds him, even if I'm there. I'm feeling that I should just not leave him with anyone else for a few weeks, and then try again. Does anyone have any other advice? When do children typically come out of this phase?
I agree with your instinct to honor your baby's need to be with you, and not leave him with a babysitter for now, if it's feasible to do so. I know some subscribe to an idea that the baby must learn (by force if necessary) not to cling, or that it's safe to be away from you, but I tend to follow the theory that the baby's need to cling will fade given the natural development of his understanding of the world, and his safety in it. My daughter got very clingy at about 9 and a half months, which continued until about 12 months, at which point she got very excited to stay with trusted babysitters. Dr. Sears relates it to the baby's mobility and the newness thereof--once the baby is used to being able to crawl away from you, it is less scary to be away from you.