Subject: 9 month-old baby boy demanding to be held
Question: Dear expert,
My 9 month-old son is constantly demanding to be held and taken here and there. He is very social and appreciates being held, even by strangers. He also has a preference for males, especially if they are tall. When we are out, we use a sling because if we put him in his stroller, he bursts into cry.
In the evenings, when I get back home from work and it is my turn to take care of the baby for about 3 hours, I often hold him to calm him down when nothing else does so and it works most of the time. When I am holding him, he feels very comfortable and relaxed. Sometimes when my wife cannot soothe our son’s fussiness, we understand that it is because he wants to be held by me. This situation and his apparent attraction to me makes my wife a little bit unhappy because she thinks that our baby does not appreciate his mom’s love and care. FYI, my wife does not hold the baby as often as I do, simply because she is spending a much longer time with our baby weighing 11 kg (24 pounds) now.
I explain to my wife that this is not because the baby does not like her or because he likes his dad better that his mom, but simply because he spends more of a fun time with his dad whereas the mom usually takes care of the things that are not to baby’s like (e.g. changing diapers and clothes, nursing him to sleep, feeding, etc.). I also tell her that the baby is still too young to appreciate his mom’s efforts. However, she does not seem to accept my reasoning!
Now my questions, in the order of importance, are:
1- How to take care of this jealousy situation caused by our son’s attraction to me?
2- Do you know of any method to help infants stay relaxed in a stroller?
Answer: Dear Unknown:
Well first of all not taking things personal at this age is important because if you do you will have problems for the rest of this child’s life. Babies do not mean things personally they just so preferences as many of us do too!
Your wife needs to deal. If she needs to spend more time having fun with the baby then she needs to schedule it in and maybe you could take over doing the caregiving at night so she is not doing the rough stuff all the time. Do you change diapers? Do some of the laundry? I ask because research shows that the more the dads do the household tasks the higher the relationship quality is reported by both partners.
As for getting the baby to relax, I suggest Infant Massage. Take an Infant Massage class and massage daily. Even twice a day in the morning and again at night is not too much as long as you are reading the baby’s cues and do not overstimulate (you learn these cues in the class).
I also encourage teaching babies sign language so you can help them develop their communication and vocabulary skills.
M. Kay Keller