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poofandmook's avatar

Baby intolerant of anyone other than parents... What to do?

Asked by poofandmook (17222 points ) July 22nd, 2012 from iPhone

My good friends have a 6 month old that went from loving everyone to not tolerating anyone but her parents. She cries even at the sight of certain people, and it’s genuine too… You can see fear. Yet other times, those same people are just fine by her. Myself included. Sometimes she’s all smiles for me, and others she’s flat out terrified at the sight of me. Not to mention this means that whenever they try to leave her with anyone—mostly grandparents—she wails the whole time. We’re talking hours. They’re new parents, confused, and very frustrated. Any thoughts? Similar experiences? Things they can do to try and break her away from this?

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21 Answers

creative1's avatar

This is just a phase she is going through, my daughter went through something similar at the same age and I am sure their peditrician will reassure them it is perfectly normal.

augustlan's avatar

One of mine was like that from birth to just before she was maybe a year old. It’s just one of those things that some babies go through, unfortunately. It can be heartbreaking for the parents to leave her screaming, and frustrating and sad for the other people who love the baby, too. There really wasn’t much we could do about it… we just kept trying, and when necessary, left her screaming. Thank goodness, she grew out of it!

gailcalled's avatar

Let some time pass. Having a battle of wills with a six-month old will leave everyone frustrated, unhappy and bad-tempered.

It’s tough with a first baby. Each minute of screaming feels like an hour.

wundayatta's avatar

We were just visiting with my parents and they told how when we first went on vacation together, they offered to “babysit” one night so we could get away on our own for the first time since our daughter was born. This was about three months after her birth.

They said that our daughter started crying as soon as we left the house, and didn’t stop until about an hour before we came home. Apparently, she also did this one other time. I’m not sure how old she was then.

A few years later, she was spending weeks with them on her own.

Yes, it is frustrating, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Sometimes, if you worry about these things, you make them worse. So you don’t leave the child with someone else for a little while. When you leave them at daycare, they’ll have to get used to it, and that usually happens pretty quickly. Like in a day.

It’s natural for kids to want to be with their parents, but you have to let others take care of them at some point, especially if you don’t want them chained to you forever. They may cry for a long time, but they can’t cry forever, and eventually they will learn to connect to others besides the parents.

I really think the worst this is worrying about it. Just do what you want to do and don’t let the baby’s crying make you change your plans.

josie's avatar

Children can cry all they want. Unless they are sick, hungry or in pain, they are simply bitching about something and who knows what that is.
And if that is the case, the sooner everybody ignores them the better for them.

ccrow's avatar

Ah yes, I remember it well… thank goodness only one of mine was like this. Except he didn’t particularly care for his dad, either. My parents would still babysit, but I’m sure it wasn’t much fun!! He got over it after awhile; once he could get around under his own power he turned from a pretty cranky little guy to the happiest baby ever:-)

susanc's avatar

My 7 month old grandgirl is doing this too – desperate/furious if she isn’t in full body contact with at least her father, if not her mother. Furious. What appears to be helping very slightly is if I interact with her while she’s attached to one of them. Then she trusts and likes me. But all the above advice seems critical to follow, too. They have to cry and they do learn that mama and papa will reappear. Yes, it’s awful; don’t let on.

Sunny2's avatar

It’s phase. Don’t fret and don’t make a big deal of it or it could last longer than it would otherwise. Be sure the baby has alone time to get used to being out of your sight. Then when you reappear, keep it natural. He/she will learn that absence doesn’t mean forever. Play peek-a-boo. Then play hide and seek with just you hiding behind a piece of furniture and coming out. Laugh and the baby will laugh with you.

cookieman's avatar

My niece is like this. Only wants to be with her father. Clutches him for dear life. Anyone else even goes near her, it sets her off screaming bloody murder. Sometimes for hours on end.

I love babies, but she’s really unpleasant to be around. I try to avoid her at this point.

tinyfaery's avatar

Patterns are being formed. Teaching the child to self-soothe can never begin too early.

skfinkel's avatar

@josie : wondering if you actually have children yourself?

skfinkel's avatar

The answers I am reading here a upsetting to say the least. Babies are people, only they can’t talk, and have very specific needs to be with their mothers—especially young babies. Imagine you are desperately in love with someone, that person leaves and you don’t know if or when that person is coming back, and you don’t know how to communicate this to anyone, and everyone else is terrifying to you.
If you want a secure child, spend time with her or him when they need you, and the child will be secure for her whole life.
Some children are more comfortable being left (read more secure, perhaps) and others need more time. Help them get secure by letting them know you understand their needs and will give them what they need. This kind of attention is more important than anything else the parents are doing.

Pandora's avatar

We would run into that in day care often enough. Especially with the babies who only came in for a few days. I find that it often has more to do with how a baby is held and the confidence in how you speak to them. People don’t realize this but their eyes give them away as well. Your eyes must match the smile on your face. They really don’t like or trust people not smiling at them, unless its mom or dad. But I’m willing to bet that mom and dad smile a lot at the baby. They pick up visual cues from their parents. Parents smile, are happy and seem relaxed around the baby, so the baby feels safe and secure.
Also the more others feed and change the baby the more secure it will feel.
If you look at a baby like its an alien that is going to suck your soul, than the kid is wondering what is wrong. Something seems scary. It has no idea it is scaring the heck out of you.
Of course any change is frightening for the baby as well. No mom, no dad. Its not always objecting to the people but rather the lack of the 2 people who make it feel safe. Only with time alone with others will the baby know it is safe any time, with anyone. But the babies basic needs have to be fulfilled by the ones taking care of it. Hungry, feed it, tired rock it or soothe the baby till it falls asleep, wet, change it, hot and sweaty, wipe, it down and change the clothes to something more suitable, cold, warm it up. They are really easy. Just don’t be intimidated and the baby will feel secure.

gailcalled's avatar

There is also the sniff test. Babies recognize their parents’ smell, I am convinced. I could certainly pick my little guys out of a crowd blindfolded.

I would not refer to an infant as “it,” either.

ccrow's avatar

@skfinkel I agree, but sometimes there are circumstances such that the baby must be with people other than the one(s) he/she wants. A child cannot learn to cope with separation if it never happens.

Supacase's avatar

Find a family member or close friend who is willing to stick it out and ask them to babysit. Maybe just an hour at first, then progressively longer periods of time. Honestly, you could probably start with the leaving the sitter with the baby while the parents go into another room for 15 minutes. The point is for the baby to learn and trust that Mommy and Daddy will come back.

gailcalled's avatar

The term is “object constancy,” which refers to the inability of the infant to know that when his or her mother/father disappears, they will return. I am doing this from memory but I believe that at about 18 months the baby will understand that parents will come back and not vanish forever.

You cannot bully a baby into being anything than a baby, with the stages of growth that we all went through.

Here’s one of many technical articles. Object Constancy

poofandmook's avatar

The most recent instance of this being especially frustrating was on Sunday evening. Both parents were there, she could see both parents, and yet she turned to a friend and wailed and wailed. When he first got there, he smiled and said “Hi Olivia!” and her face practically melted into screaming. The friends she’s scared of all love her very much, and love playing with her and making her laugh. I don’t think it’s a case of people not being genuine.

Plus, she was going to daycare three days a week not that long ago, before the mother was laid off, and she was fine. This is a new thing in the last month or so, I believe.

skfinkel's avatar

@ccrow
@supacase:
I think the idea you are talking about—starting early to let the child get used to separation, is based on the idea that you can teach an infant certain things. I just don’t believe that. I am not saying that a baby should not be exposed to lots of other people, exposure to other people, but that exposure is best when the mother is around, and if there is any kind of unhappiness, the baby can go right back to the mother. A baby has a certain developmental timetable, and it can’t be rushed. The fact that mothers leave babies at young ages because they have to work, or for whatever reason, and some babies don’t object, doesn’t mean the baby is not noticing. Some people believe in development and some believe in behavior modification. We as a country have been under the sway of behavior modification for many years, but the scientific evidence is showing that development is real, and babies have critical times for certain behaviors and experiences, and there really isn’t much you can do to make those developmental stages go faster, or even skip the ones you don’t care for—like when a baby is worried about a parent not being present. From my point of view, making sure the baby gets through whatever stage she is in and going through with as much help and love as possible means she is sturdily ready to get to the next developmental stage. Rushing it just won’t work, even through people try. When a baby cries, my advice is to listen. If a baby is crying without stopping even when her parents are there and giving the child what it needs, it might be that something is the matter with the baby, and a visit to the doctor is necessary to make sure there is nothing seriously wrong.

Luckypie's avatar

Stranger anxiety is incredibly common at that age. Respecting the child’s developmental stage won’t spoil him or her and it may help form positive attachment patterns.

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