We have all heard phrases like “making a rod for your own back” “your baby is manipulating you” “your spoiling your baby” but if my baby cannot control its own hands enough to not scratch its face, what is the chance they are controlling me? If I had a penny for every time someone has informed me I am making my daughter clingy by carrying her I would be a very wealthy lady, yet she is the child disappearing out the door given the chance and will go to anyone. Some days I wish she was as clingy as everyone tells me she will be, as chasing her is a never ending task. So is she an exception to the rule? Or is this “advise” not accurate for every child? Or is it inaccurate all together?
Most parents want their children to grow up independent, successful and happy but what is the best way to do this? Is there a best way? Does it matter what I do in the early years? With all this pressure to “get it right” there comes a lot of unnecessary guilt caused by our “mistakes”. Care Givers have so many options open to them and so much contradicting information to battle through. The best piece of advice I have ever had was from my wonderful dad who told me;
“Don’t listen to anyone’s advice, it may have worked for them but it may not be the right thing for you. Trust yourself and your instincts, you will know what to do and what’s best for you both. But that’s my advice so you had better ignore that too.” – James Hall
When my instincts were telling me to hold my baby and comfort her when she cried, that is what I did. Babies under about six months can’t have much effect on the world around them so being independent isn’t really much of an option to them. Responding to them helps to build trust between you both and we all know that trust is the foundation to independence. This will become so important to you both when your baby starts to explore the world, they will know you are there and will respond if they need you and you can trust them enough to let them go. Letting them go is immensely hard on you but your foundations will support you for a lifetime.
Watching my independent little girl hurtle across an open field makes me wonder where all the time has gone, it seems only yesterday she was a tiny baby reliant on me for everything. She will happily go to anyone and will play by herself as well as with other children, she still has her cuddle days but I don’t think that is any different from any other child. I most certainly do not think for a second choosing to carry her has hindered her need or want for independence. If baby wearing makes children clingy my daughter missed the memo!
Your baby may not be able to have much effect on their world, but they can communicate with you. Babies cannot see very far at all and so holding them close will enable them to study your expressions and reactions as well as mirror them. Having your baby close will also help you to read their cues quickly, which in turn will bring them confidence in the fact they are able to communicate with you and in a way have an effect on the world. This early exploration of you and your fast responses will support their drive for independence and positive reinforcement for the both of you.
Babywearing will support you both threw the journey to independence and will not result in a “clingy” or “needy child”. If babywearing did make children lose their independence, then human growth and development simply wouldn’t have happened as we would all have been far too attached to our caregiver to go and discover new countries, build towns and so on. So don’t panic you are doing an amazing job!
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