Baby Cries and Constantly Needs to Be Held

Updated on February 11, 2010
J.C. asks from Seattle, WA
22 answers

My child just turned 6 months, he seems to be having an attachment problem. I know that most kids go through this, but I just needed to know if there is anything i can do. He doesn't mind strangers and I have people watch him 3-4 hrs a day in the afternoon. But at night he just cries if I am not holding him. I have tried the jolly jumper, the swing, the play mat, the papasuan. Nothing, he just cries until I come over. I try to give him 10-20 mins before I come over, but he goes strong almost the whole time. He doesn't need to be fed or changed. Any advice??

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answers from Augusta on

Wear him. Babies need more than just food and to be changed. They also cry when they need human contact. Just get a sling or carrier and wear him , He will be independant and want nothing to do with you soon enough. I mean really before you know it , and I mean like 6 months from now he'll be EVERWHERE and not want you to help him do anything. He will grow out of it.

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answers from Augusta on

Wear him. Babies need more than just food and to be changed. They also cry when they need human contact. Just get a sling or carrier and wear him , He will be independant and want nothing to do with you soon enough. I mean really before you know it , and I mean like 6 months from now he'll be EVERWHERE and not want you to help him do anything. He will grow out of it.

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answers from Washington DC on

Night time is often the hardest time on children. They are over-stimulated, over-tired and just need some love and attention. Unfortunately, its also a point in the day that we are busy, tired and running short on patience. Its important to assure your child that you are there and you love them, but you also need for them have some independence so you can cook, do dishes, etc.

I'm all for baby wearing but I don't think wearing the child while cooking is safe - splatters, spills or even little arms and legs wiggling around can be a very dangerous thing. Plus, its akward to reach around the baby to stir something.

I would say as L. as he's nearby and you aren't entirely ignoring him the entire time, there is nothing wrong with letting him fuss and learn to entertain himself.

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answers from Richmond on

Hold him. It goes too fast I know. My daughter was like that as well, and now she is a really independent 6 year old. Wish I knew where the link was, but there was a link once to an article on a government website when I was researching the same issue. It basically was titled "Can you spoil your child by holding them too much". Wish I could find the link for you. However the summary was "NO". By holding a child when they need it as a baby, they feel secure and loved . . . and the studies showed that the children that were in the "held significantly" group matured into toddlers and young children who were actually more secure and self sufficient, and felt more comfortable exploring on their own. The children that were held less and not kept as physically close sometimes needed a bit more reassuring from parents because they did not seem to have the same self secure feeling.

Now, that being said, my first one clung to me for 12 months, and early on became pretty independent, and has a great level of self confidence. My second one did NOT request to be held as much, and is equally as independent. So what I would take from the article that I read is that IF your child needs a greater sense of security from being held that first year, give it to them, you won't wreck them. If they don't, count your blessings and your lack of backpains!

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answers from Austin on

I have much the same issue with my daughter. My feeling is that at 6 months, if they cry, they need you. This might be especially true given that he is away from you during the day. I would hold him. Some people "wear" their babies in a babycarrier while cooking dinner, etc. (Wear the baby on your back, not your front, while cooking...) My daughter is now 12 months and is a little more independent now. She has a twin brother who wants a lot of attention too, and believe me it's not easy. Is your child's father around when this happens? If the baby only wants you, then dad can take care of dinner or whatever needs to be done.

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answers from Orlando on

Hold him. My oldest is 12 and I can't hold him anymore. Hold him.

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answers from Portland on

I was given a Moby wrap when my daughter was a baby and for a long we used it regularly. It was a little complicated to learn how to use at first, but it gave me the ability to hold her and do other stuff that I need to do. It is also versatile in that babies can be worn in a variety of ways. She is 2 now and we still use it at times when she needs to be a little closer to mama for a long time. It was natural for her to want to be close to me (babies want that closeness, it helps build trust, and later helps baby to be more independent) and for me to be close to her. It isn't about baby manipulating you or anything like that, it is an innate need for closeness. He probably misses you when you are apart.
Good luck.

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answers from San Diego on

Physical problems first:

- Cold/Flu coming on
- Ear infection
- Teething
- Gas
- Colic
Many of these only show up at night, because during the day they're too interested in what's going on around them, but as they get tired and things wind down they're more aware of "I feel YUCKY"

Physical Reasons
- Overtired
- Hungry (6 months is growth spurt time)

Emotional reasons
- Just wants love and affection (solution = wearing when possible)

I always check the physical causes first, because when I don't (and I learned this the hard way, because I'm very emotions-based), and then a dose of tylenol or a bottle or a long burp solves the problem I end up feeling like and idiot.

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answers from Washington DC on

My 3rd child did this from a very young age until she was around 4-6 months (I don't remember the exact age). Bang on 4pm every day she would start crying and could not settle herself and we had to hold her , it was tiredness and in the early weeks we could not get her to stay awake later than 5pm (she was then out for the night until 6 the next morning). Have you noticed if it starts at the same time everyday? If so and it is towards the later part of the afternoon then it is more than likely tiredness. Maybe take a look at when he takes his last nap before you put him down at night , try and jiggle the nap time a little to see if it helps with him being happier later in the day. If not then maybe move his bedtime to an earlier time. I am pleased to say that the going to bed at 5pm for my daughter lasted only a few months and she moved on to a more normal bedtime , she does still get tired/grumpy though and cannot stay up much past 6.30pm (she is now 19 months).

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answers from Portland on

Ohh, he is 6 months old . .hold him - LOTS. He clearly wants to be near you for comfort. It won't last forever. Making him cry for 10-20 minutes is heartbreaking. There have been many studies about the effect of crying for long periods of time on development. Go to:

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answers from Indianapolis on

He is smart. He knows that even if you hold out, you will eventually give in and come over. He will scream till he gets his way until you prove to him that your life doesn't revolve around him. Of course the attachment issue may be part of it, but you have to put your foot down. You can't have a child attached to you at all times. Let him cry it out and after a week it will get alot better.

I'm not saying this because I'm a strick person or anything. I'm saying this because I was the mom who gave in to my daughter constantly. She was the same way you are describing. She's now 4 1/2 and we still deal with attachment issues. I did not give into my son and at 2 he doesn't know the difference. We is still very close to me, but he also understands that mommy has things that I need to do and sometimes it doesn't involve him (dishes, laundry, ect.)



answers from Dallas on

I had the same problem with my daughter. I tend to agree with Busymom. I had to let her cry it out. Believe me, it is not easy!!!! I would usually sit in the living room and cry the entire time. It was so hard, but it helped her sleep through the night better. This is how I see it. We are parents from the beginning. As they get older we see nothing wrong with giving our children time outs for behavior that needs to be corrected. As hard as it is, that's all you are doing if you let the baby cry it out. You are starting to train them at an early age. I know it's hard, but from experience, I think it's the only method that really works...


answers from Philadelphia on

Hi J.,
I have to agree with Megan. Babies at this age are smart enough to know that if they do something for long enough and you give in, then next time they do it even longer....and it sounds like you always give in.
I understand the frustration of a crying baby, but if your certain that ALL of his needs (fed, diapered, no discomfort) are met, including "cuddle" time, then you don't need to hold him 24/7. If he is being watched by others during the day are you sure that he is getting the necessary attention with them, or are they putting him in the swing, jumper, etc.? It sounds like he just wants his mommy.
I think that if you give him some good cuddle time when you bring him home, even if it's just for 10 minutes and then put him down where he can see you and you can talk to him, he should be fine. If he starts crying, talk to him, soothe him, and be loving without picking him up. If he cries harder even more reason to teach him that he can be by himself (not held) and that your still there and love him. Don't be discouraged by the fact that he is crying, he is testing you to see how long he has to go before you "give in". If you do "give in" then your just teaching him that he's doing the right thing by crying to get what he wants. Also, the best time for you to go over and pick him up is when there is a pause in the crying/fussing.
Good luck to you. Hang in there, this time passes too quickly try to enjoy it!



answers from Indianapolis on

Yeah, hold your baby is the msot common suggestion.

When you put him in the jolly jumper or swing or whatever, make sure he can see you, and talk to him. If you have to go into the kitchen to put the dishes away, bring the jumper in there, and just start talking to him too. It's not just that he isn't being held, it's that he can't see/hear you and if you aren't right there, it kinda scares him.

For what it's worth, and good luck!



answers from Colorado Springs on

Try the babywise book (On becoming babywise)--it really works. 5 kids I have used their system with. Babies learn to go to sleep on their own without needing to be rocked to sleep. I'm being lazy this time with my last (sob) baby, but he still sleeps great.

Now, my little guy also sleeps with me, and by around 10:30 every night, he's ready for me to come snuggle up with him. At that point, he's not too happy to be alone, either, although he's a great napper all day. Babies do need their "mama time".


answers from Washington DC on

Well he is only 6 months. When babies cry they are crying for a reason. I would suggest you just holding him because sometimes that is all they want. My daughter went through this also at 6 months. I would hold her and sing to her...It's soothing for him to feel your warmth and your voice. Give it a try and see how it works. It worked for my daughter!!! God bless you!!!



answers from Columbus on

I have slight problem with everyone jumping on you saying you aren't holding your baby enough. My daughter just turned 9 months and is certainly high maintenance. She cries for any number of reasons but for a period around 6 months would cry for hours and the only thing that helped was holding her....for hours. I also have a 3 year old, you don't mention if you have any others, so I don't have the ability to just hold her all day long. I did wear her quite a bit to free my hands but even the tiniest babies can get heavy after a while. I don't suggest letting him cry for long amounts of time but if he's right there with you, you could try shushing and patting him every few minutes to let him know you are still there are love him, while you get done what you need to get done, then snuggle away. If this is more of a late night issue like he doesn't want to go to sleep because you aren't there (we are still dealing with this one) you may have to just go in every five minutes or so to comfort and remind him you are still around. Some babies are clingier than others but it goes by fast so hopefully he'll outgrow it soon. Good luck to you!!!



answers from Detroit on

hold him.. buy a baby wrap.. a snuggly and hold the baby.

it is normal babies like to be held.. he is probaby tired.. you might try moving bedtime up or naptime later.. tired babies usually cry.



answers from Cincinnati on

I know this is going to sound harsh, but I'm going to say it anyway. HOLD YOUR CHILD! He is ONLY 6 months old. Babies cry for a reason and sometimes that reason is JUST because they want to be held and that is OK. As another responder said, babies need more then just food and a clean diaper to be healthy and grow.

Some children are content to sit for hours and hours by themselves. Others are not. It's not a bad thing. It's just who they are.

I would make sure there are no physical things going on. Look at your babies diet. Do you nurse or formula feed. Is he being given anything to eat in the afternoon that would upset his stomach and cause discomfort.

It could just very well be the fact that he MISSES you. You mentioned someone else watches him for 3-4 hours in the afternoon. He may be trying to tell you he misses you and wants to be near you. Do not ignore your child. Do not let him sit there and cry when he clearly needs you. A 6 month old is NOT trying to manipulate you. His ONLY means of communication is to cry, so that is what he does to let you know he needs something.

Yes. I would say he is having an attachment problem... he's not attached enough to you. As suggested, baby wearing is a great way to have your baby close and still be able to do the things around the house you want/need to do.

Please... listen to your child. He's trying to tell you something. He needs you.



answers from Cincinnati on

I agree with the idea of purchasing something to wear him in. You can keep him close and happy and you can get what you need done. I have used many baby carriers and this one is the one I most recommend :

They are SO comfortable.

They also have babywearing classes at Park and Vine if you are close to Cincinnati at all:

it is a wonderful store and the women that do the classes are very nice and very helpful.

Hope this helps, I couldn't imagine being a mom without my baby carriers!

Good luck,



answers from Minneapolis on

My advice would be to wear him. Get a wrap or a mei tai and wear him so you still have both hands free to do other things.



answers from Honolulu on

sometimes babies get like that when they are teething or getting sick or do not feel well.
A baby gets clingy when not feeling as usual.

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