How can I get my 7 month old to be more independent and not so attached?

Q: My 7 month old is super attached. He will watch me as I walk away and start crying. When I put him down he crawls right back over too me and sometimes he just won’t leave me alone. He sleeps in my bed, so I guess I’m attached too? Does letting him sleep in my bed make him like this?

A: Dear Mother of 7 Month Old:

It is normal for babies of this age to suddenly become very anxious when Mom walks away or--you may have noticed this--whenever someone other than Mom tries to pick up the baby. You cannot "cure" your son from this anxiety, which will pass on its own after a period of time. Your goal for now is to try to keep your little guy as soothed as possible so that he can develop a store of optimism, trust, and cheerfulness inside--this is how children gradually grow to be independent in their spirits. Naturally, his sticking to you like glue may make you feel pretty tied down at times! But the more you try to sneak away, the more panic he will experience--so use your own judgment about what is reasonable.

Eventually, he will become big enough to want to walk away and explore the world on his own (and then run back to you after a while), but right now he is too little.

Letting him sleep in your bed is not really a cause of this anxiety. Most babies all over the world sleep in their parents' bed although there is a strong feeling on the part of some parents in the USA that this pattern is very inconvenient. Trying to make him sleep in his own bed at this point, just as he has become very anxious whenever you leave him, is probably asking for more trouble! Enjoy the attachment and stay calm. He'll be moving 3000 miles away in the blink of an eye.

Elizabeth Berger MD Child Psychiatrist and author of "Raising Kids with Character"


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