Does your baby cry every time you put her down? Do you find yourself coming up with inventive ways to use the bathroom without putting baby down? Feel trapped under a baby for hours at a time because he won’t nap without you? Are there days when you’ve not bothered getting dressed, because it seems baby has been attached to the breast all day? If any of this sounds familiar, your baby may be among the many breastfed babies who only want their moms. Here’s why your breastfed baby only wants mom, and what you can do about it.
Does your breastfed baby only want mom?
Does it seem like you can’t put your baby down for one second without her crying? You might be worried that something is wrong, like you’re not producing enough breastmilk, or your baby is in pain. It’s actually quite normal when the breastfed baby only wants mom! As long as you’re seeing enough wet nappies each day and you’re able to sooth her when you’re holding her, there’s no reason to assume there’s a problem.
Is it early separation anxiety?
If your newborn breastfed baby only wants mom, it may seem like separation anxiety. It’s actually something completely different. Separation anxiety normally kicks in around 8 months of age, and while your newborn baby may be upset when you’re not holding him, he doesn’t yet have the ability to recognize when you’re not in the room. That said, newborn babies do have preferences for familiar smells, voices, and sensations – like breastfeeding – that bring them comfort. If your breastfed baby only wants mom, it’s totally normal for him to cry and scream until you hold him.
What to do when a breastfed baby only wants mom
When your breastfed baby only wants mom, it can be exhausting. Be patient and know that this, too, shall pass. Like all skills in life, baby needs to learn how to be independent.
When they cry
If your baby cries when you put her down, responding to her cries by comforting her will actually help her learn independence. It may seem counter intuitive, but studies have shown that babies who’s care providers comfort them each time they cry will establish a sense of trust – and independence – much sooner than babies who are left to cry it out more often. When your baby cries, comfort and soothe her to help her build a sense of trust and independence.
If your breastfed baby only wants mom, consider giving baby wearing a go. It can be physically exhausting if you’re constantly holding your baby, and you might want to get up and about. Some babies find movement soothing, so being in a carrier can be comforting. Your baby might like napping in a carrier, and once you get accustomed to baby wearing, he may be able to breastfeed in the carrier.
Encouraging bonding time with dad
It can be hard for dads when their breastfed babies only want their moms. When you breastfeed, you’re creating a bond with your baby both physically and mentally. The act of breastfeeding establishes a hormonal bond. You and your baby both release oxytocin – the hormone responsible for love and bonding – while breastfeeding. Baby bonding can be difficult for dads in the early days if baby only wants mom, and many people think that dads need to feed their babies expressed breastmilk to mimic the bonding effects of breastfeeding – this is not true! There are plenty of ways dads can bond with their newborn babies – and you don’t have to express breastmilk.
Dads can do skin-to-skin contact with their newborn babies, too, to establish a hormonal bond similar to breastfeeding. They can also bathe baby, or try rocking baby to sleep and nap with baby. Most importantly, remember that it’s totally normal for the breastfed baby to only want mom – and not to feel too discouraged if baby screams and cries in dad’s arms. Remember that this is only temporary!
If your breastfed baby only wants mom, it’s not uncommon for her to want to breastfeed frequently too. Newborn babies need to eat 8-12 times each day, so if you’re baby is wanting the breast even more frequently it can be exhausting. Know that it’s totally normal for a baby to want to comfort nurse and to fall asleep at the breast. Frequent breastfeeding during these first few months is important for establishing milk supply, and also preventing discomfort like engorgement or plugged ducts. You should allow your baby to breastfeed whenever she wants during this time, and know that she will gain more independence (and need to eat less frequently) as she gets older.