Making Baby Affectionate

My daughter wasn’t a snuggler. At least not post-newborn stage after the limbs stopped flailing. At 6 months when she began to crawl, I’d hug her and she’d push away. She was far more interested mauling and smothering the cat. This puzzled me. Perhaps affection isn’t ingrained in everyone. In some, maybe it’s learned.

Thus began Operation Hugs and Snugs.

“Give mama a hug and a snug,” I’d say, picking her up and putting her entire cheek in my mouth. Phil cringed. “That sounds so stupid.” But a moment later, he’d be the one asking, “why isn’t our baby more cuddly?”

So Snugs and Hugs became my mantra.

Early on in the deployment of the Operation I noticed Fi would go up to our closest mom friend and hug her. Wtf? Granted, her boy Teddy was a huge hugger, but I’m the one who breathed life into her. Instead of getting upset about her misplaced loyalty, I decided to take this as proof my strategy was working.

I stepped it up a notch. Operation Hugs and Snugs enlisted the “Barnacle Baby.” I’d lie in child’s pose, pat my back and say, “Come barnacle on mama.” She began to scream in delight and climb on me. I’d go up on all fours and she’d sit on me as if riding a horse, giggling like mad. Then she’d lie down, her little arms wrapped around my sides, her head and warm stomach against my back. I’d inhale deeply, knowing there is nothing better (until she’d fall off head first and cry).

Barnacle Baby

Barnacle Baby

Slowly but surely, she’d start to give hugs more often. Without me even asking. It was like a case of lovies came over her and she’d run acrorss the room and lunge into me, holding me tight. By 10 months it became apparent that Operation Hugs and Snugs was a HUGE success. I had an energetic but cuddly baby. Even now at 18 months, the non-hugging enemy has stayed out of our territory.

I will confess there might be a slight catch to all this. Now in mom-tot yoga when I’m in cobra, she thinks it’s barnacle time and instantly climbs on my back (which makes going into downward dog impossible). When I’m doing my ab workout at home, she lays down on my chest. Guess that summer bathing suit will have to wait. And when Brother Wayne is anywhere near, she tackles him and tries to catch a ride (which has led to no less than 8 scratches in a week’s time.)

She also now clings onto her little friend Teddy. She grabs him around the waist and holds tight. He whines and wiggles out of her embrace. He clearly doesn’t enjoy her hug and snug. And in the sandbox last weekend she went up to a 3 year old boy and barnacled him. His mother looked confused. Is it possible I’ve created a monster of affection? Is it possible to be a “hug and snug” addict? Not sure. I’d like to think she might be the next Mother Teresa. Or Florence Nightingale. But for now I’ll just appreciate the fact that she’s such a sweet little girl. Who wants to hug. And snug. I can ask for no more.

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  1. by Angie

    On July 4, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    We went through the same thing with my daughter when she started crawling. She was such a snuggly baby, and then learned that she could run away!

    I actually did very similar things and now she is a very affectionate child at 2.5. She still doesn’t want to sit and snuggle, but she loves hugs and kisses. I think she confuses other kids her age when she tries to hug them before we leave their houses, but I am okay with that. I love that she is so affectionate, honestly.

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