First things first—‘clinginess’ is a totally normal part of development, and is perhaps not the most accurate term to describe this healthy phase in your little one’s life. Instead, ‘relationship learning’ might be a better way to label (and understand) what’s happening to your baby.
When your baby hits around eight or nine months, they may suddenly become aware that Mum and baby are not one single entity. This means, of course, that you can leave, and for a tiny human with limited mobility and understanding, this can be a scary prospect.
On the flip-side, however, this dramatic change in your baby’s sense of security and contentment can be tiring.
Parenting expert Kathryn Mewes, explains—
“This is something that will pass, but I understand that when you are in it, you feel it is going to last a lifetime! The main thing to do is to continue as you are. Have [them] engaged in play before you leave the room. Bend down and look into [their] eyes and tell him where you are going.
Promptly leave the room and do as you told him. While you are gone sing loudly or call to him ‘Nearly done. I’m on my way back now.’”
Mewes advises that you don’t ever sneak out—always let your child know where you’re going, and make it clear you’ll come straight back. This is all about building trust during what could otherwise be a traumatic time. Think about your bond with baby as an elastic band; it has stretch, but wear it out, and it loses its capacity to bounce back like before—so be compassionate.
The mantra to repeat is simple: TALK, GO, SING, RETURN. And of course, keep courage—as with most things in your parenting life, it won’t last forever (so enjoy the extra cuddles).