Q: What do I do when my baby wants to be held all the time and cries when put in a chair or on a play mat?

A: Being held leads to the habit and expectation of being held, even in infancy. Breaking the habit can be a challenge and requires a great deal of patience and perserverance. Begin by puting the infant down, either in the bouncy chair or on the play mat. Stay close by and play with your baby. Start with just a few minutes and try to pick the baby up before he starts crying. Learn to tell the signs of your baby becoming unhappy so you can pick her up before the crying starts.  If you wait until she is crying you are reinforcing that "crying gets me picked up".

Do this multiple times per day when the baby is happy and well rested. Slowly extend the amount of time that you leave the child in the play area and begin to use toys as the source of entertainment rather than you. Have other members of your household do the same so the baby will learn that it is okay to be put down no matter who is holding them. Toys with contrast (black and white) are good for young infants; mirrors and toys that make noise or have flashing lights work well with older infants. After a few days to a week you should see a change in your baby's willingness to be put down and ability to entertain himself for short periods of time.

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Answered by Dr. Carrie M. Brown



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