Babies that need to be held all the time

Archived Q&A and Reviews

13 mo. old wants to be carried all the time

November 2002

I have a 13 month old daughter who is not walking yet. She walks holding onto the walls and furniture. She is a great crawler and even goes up and down the stairs really well (with our supervision, of course). Lately she wants to be carried everywhere, and if we set her down she starts crying and then lays down on the floor and cries harder until we pick up her again. My husband and I are not sure what to do about it or why she is acting this way. She also used to like to walk holding onto our hands but lately she wont walk that way and will just sit down and refuse to walk. Has anyone been in a similar situation? If so how did you handle it? What do think she is trying to express? I would appreciate any advice or recommendations. Thank you, Amy

Dr. Sears warned me (not personally, but in a book!) that babies between about 14-18 months are very clingy, and indeed I found that to be true with my firstborn (my secondborn is still a small baby, so we'll see). She had to be carried A LOT during that time even though she could walk. Has to do with growing independence and the fear that comes with it. I carried her in a sling on my hip quite often which was helpful. My advice is to get a sling, or use it if you have it, and just wait it out. It WILL change! Hilary
I remember reading in Penelope Leach that children this age walk for exploration and use Mom and Dad for transportation. I think it was in _Babyhood_. My daughter is older by two months and sometimes I'm chasing after her but just as often she stops and says ''up.'' I try and carry her cheerfully a bit. Then, if she really feels too heavy explain that I'm tired and she will walk again for a bit. Jessica

How to Always Hold Sleeping Newborn with Toddler Around?

October 2001

I have a 3 week old baby, who will only sleep at night and for naps if held. I also have a 2 1/2 year old, so holding the newborn all the time isn't an option. My doctor advises to keep laying her down and she will have to sleep at some point. She doesn't. I have tried a bouncy chair, stroller, swaddling, and combinations of the above. At night she will only sleep in my bed with her face up against me. I am a light sleeper and don't sleep most of the night. I would prefer to get her in a bassinet or crib. Please give me suggestions that have worked for others. Thank you. Marci

You didn't mention a battery operated swing as one of the solutions you tried. I don't know if a 3 week old might be too small for the swing - you may want to check on that. Nonetheless, I had a baby who wouldn't sleep at all unless she was being held or in the swing. We also draped a used nursing bra over her, so she would have the comfort of my smell. That being said, borrow one before you buy, because this solution did not work for our second child. Good Luck. Daphne
I would suggest trying a sling. We used one with our son ( a light sleeper) quite regularly in his first 4 months, and still do occasionally. You can have your hands free, and the baby will still sense that s/he is close to your body. We often gave our son a pacifier in the sling, and that helped him stay asleep for decent naps. Good luck! --Elisabeth
I had almost the exact same situation, so I empathize! What worked was to keep the baby in a sling, or later a Baby Bjorn, while giving my full attention to my toddler. In fact this was literally how I spent the first three months of the new baby's life! This worked very well for the first three months, and then some. I was able to keep baby happy (he rarely cried or fussed at all when in the sling or Bjorn carrier) and I had the rest of me available to my toddler. As for nights, baby slept very well right next to me, and I was able to get pretty long stretches of sleep (at least one 5 hour stretch which counts for a lot!). I think it helps to remember that this phase will not last forever, and that all babies are different. (Yes, I have at times envied those whose babies seem to quite happily just sit in a bouncy seat all day, sleep in a crib the entire night, etc.!) As baby gets older, especially when they can sit up b! y ! ! themselves at around 6 months, things get much easier (when crawling starts, that's a whole other ballgame!). But the effort I put in up front seems to have paid off---the baby, now one year old, is a happy, secure, enthusiastic and calm almost-toddler. And he finally will sleep in his crib (though I still have to put him in the crib after he falls asleep--we're still working on that!) I know it's hard to meet the needs of two little ones at the same time!!! So, take a breath, remember that snuggled right next to you baby is getting the very best nurturing, and he or she won't stay this little and needy forever. Good luck!!
Marci--I can only imagine how tired you must be, And speaking as someone who has 2 that are 21 months apart--I really know what it's like. I also am a light sleeper and feel like I've gone thru every sleep problem there is. I have heard every kind of sleep advice you can imagine and read practically every book. We eventually ferberized (read the book first if you do, it may be too early, but it's not all as bad as you might hear). Although what works is different for everyone, one things I know to be true--the key is consistency. My suggestion is similar to your doctors--start putting the baby down in the bassinet or wherever seems like she'll be comfortable. Eventually ( & I don't mean after a time or two )she will learn to sleep in the bassinet. The hard part is dealing with the meantime. Maybe you can enlist some help, a friend or a family member. Even if it seems like it's not working at first--stay consistent--it may take a week or two, but it will work, and if you're tired enough, you'll pull through. Good luck! H
Hi. I would recommend a sling for being able to get things done. As a postpartum doula I love my New Native Sling and sing it's praises. With this sling I usually wear the baby on my back while I do chores around the house. I have worn a baby while sweeping, vacuuming, making beds, washing dishes and cooking. Also with the baby on my back I have found that I can sit on a stool like seat and hold a toddler on my lap to read to them, or carrying them on my hip - it's great to be able to carry two children! I have only once not had a baby not fall asleep while in my sling and that was an active 8-month old where there were 3 older siblings running around. With this style sling I have been able to transfer the baby to someone else, place a baby in their carseat drive somewhere, pick them up and re-sling all without the baby waking.

As far as general sleeping issues, well it may help to remember that being near a heartbeat and human warmth is what they are used to the most. You could try a heating pad in the bassinette/bed/crib to warm up the spot before setting the baby down. That and something that ticks or has a rhymthic sound might help your babe to sleep without being on you. Samantha (birth and postpartum doula for 5 years)

I just wanted to second (or tenth) the advice to use a sling. I had the exact same situation seven months ago--newborn who would only sleep when next to me (for naps and for nighttime) and a preschooler who didn't like my having no hands free. I used a sling for daytime comfort and I let the baby sleep with me at night with his little nose pressed up against my chest. That kept him happy and helped with bonding. Now, seven months later, I still use the sling when he's feeling fussy or we're someplace without a crib (like on an airplane) and he still loves it, but at night he's graduated to sleeping in a crib. I used a baby bjorn with my firstborn but with my son, I've found the sling works better--it's so much more intimate and comfortable for him, since he can recline, and he and I spend a lot of time gazing at each other, which is hard with a front pack. THe sling isn't easy to figure out though--I actually took a $10 class at Pickles and Ice Cream (on Shattuck) to learn how to use it correctly. Friends teased me that everytime they saw me the baby was either hanging around my neck or sucking away on a breast, but I kind of think that's how it ought to be! Susan
More comfortable than either a sling or a Baby Bjorn is the Baby Bundler, a miracle of a wrap that holds the baby very securely AND is so supportive that it works even for people with troubled backs, shoulders or necks. I couldn't use a sling or a Bjorn because they hurt various parts of my body. The Bundler goes on both shoulders, the back and the waist so it distribute the baby's weight evenly and throughout the upper body. It takes a little while to get used to wrapping the baby in it, but after improvising new ways to do it (in addition to what's shown in the printed materials and video), we got it down and used it very happily. Our baby LOVED being in it, as did other babies :-). Now close friends of ours are using ours to save their backs, and it works for them, too. Inbal