15 answers

My 11 Month Old Son Has Become Way to Clingy....

On Febuary 20th my husband left for a deployment to Iraq. (He's in the Air Force). Our older two children are taking it ok, but the baby has taken on some strange new behaviors.
Our baby has been a very happy one since birth. He is the kind that if you look at him, he breaks out laughing. He is easily entertained, but not one to need constant attention. You couldn't ask for a better baby.
About three or four days after my husband left, our baby started becoming extremely clingy to me. It is almost like he realizes his Dad is gone and now is afraid I'm going to leave him too. If I walk out of the room, he begins to cry. If someone else is over at the house and tries to hold him, he cries and fights them to get to me. Unfortunatly, I have a job, and two other children to attend to, so spending all my time cuddling with the baby is just not an option.
Also, he is starting to wake up in the middle of the night again. He works himself up so much, it takes me quite a while to calm him down.
Tonight, he went ahead and just threw the fit as soon as I layed him down. I went back into his room and put him back down with his bottle, but as soon as I walked out the door, he was back up and screaming. I went ahead and let him scream it out and it only took him about five minutes to give up, but it is so out of character for him that it is actually scaring me. He has never even once thrown a fit about going to bed.
His birthday is coming at the end of this month and, just as I did with the other two, my goal is to have him off the bottle by his first birthday. I had him off the pacifier as of a month ago, but he has picked that back up already in the last couple of weeks(babysitter gave it to him, now he won't let it go), so I don't know if I'm going to be able to get the bottle away from him as soon as I would like too.
ANY advice would be well appreciated...

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well, I finally gave up on the bottle issue and I am letting him keep it for a little while longer. My new projected age is 18mos, so we will see how that goes.
Nothing has really changed with how the baby is acting. Still just as clingy as before, but I am getting used to it, so it isn't bothering me as much. Now I just take the walker around the house with me and sit him in it. That way he can see me where ever I am. If I need to go to the bathroom or something, I just ask one of the older kids to sit and play with him long enough for me to get back.
When it comes to him sleeping the night through, I put a little fan in his bedroom for some backround noise and for the most part, it seems to be working. (he still wakes up, but not every night now.)
Thank you to everyone for your wonderful advice and good wishes towards myself and my family.

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I had the same exact problem. My solution was to just give him as much cuddling as he needed. My child definately changed. I know you feel that you don't have the time. But it is so nessacary for you to do this for him. I wouldn't push him to hit milestones right now, its ok to try though. My son was completely potty trained, and that all went out the window when his father deployed. The best thing you can do for him is to give him all the care and attention that you can. Don't make him feel as if he has to compete with company. My son was attached to my hip for at least 2 mths. before he realized that I wasn't going anywhere. I hope this helps. If you have any family members that you trust to come by and help, this will also be a good idea till he gets through this tough time. My son never took to a pacifier but he would drag his blanket around the house.

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I am not a military wife but I was a Navy brat. My mom says I started rocking in a rocking chair as soon as my dad went to sea, sucking my thumb too. Even now it is my comfort (not the thumb sucking of course!) and I am 41 years old! I have heard from lots of people who have a spouse in the military that their children's behaviors change when the spouse is deployed, especially when they are very small and don't know how to handle it. I'm not sure what to tell you about your little one's clinging habits except to reassure him and be close to him every chance you get. It's especially hard since you also work and can't be with him all the time. As far as getting him off the bottle by his first birthday, with such a huge change in his life with Daddy gone and it obviously affecting him so much, I wouldn't sweat trying to take that away from him too. It seems like it would just make your life more difficult. Let him set his own time frame for giving up this comfort item and maybe he will feel some control over his life. As the mom of a 21-month old (and two older, plus one on the way) I can tell you that you are now beginning a phase in his life where he will be transitioning between being a baby and needing you and being independent and this would be taking place even if your husband were home. I think Daddy being gone is probably just accelerating the onset. But since you are a mom of older kids I'm guessing you have been through this before. I'm sure he will adjust! Your husband has only been gone for a short while and he probably just hasn't gotten used to it yet but he will.

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I had the same exact problem. My solution was to just give him as much cuddling as he needed. My child definately changed. I know you feel that you don't have the time. But it is so nessacary for you to do this for him. I wouldn't push him to hit milestones right now, its ok to try though. My son was completely potty trained, and that all went out the window when his father deployed. The best thing you can do for him is to give him all the care and attention that you can. Don't make him feel as if he has to compete with company. My son was attached to my hip for at least 2 mths. before he realized that I wasn't going anywhere. I hope this helps. If you have any family members that you trust to come by and help, this will also be a good idea till he gets through this tough time. My son never took to a pacifier but he would drag his blanket around the house.

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First of all I want to thank you and your family for your great sacrifice in serving our country. I have a small business making boutique baby items and I would like to send you one if you can email me with your address.
I'm sure there are issues with your kids if they are used to seeing daddy and then things change but there is one thing you can try that worked for me. I didn't have THIS particular situation but when my toddler got too clingy and was driving me crazy at a reunion, I kept finding things for him to do and next thing you know he was back hanging on me. Finally I took him in my lap and said "you just stay here with mommy" and snuggled him pretty tight. I decided to hold him close until he wanted to get away. Surprizingly only took a minute. Then I said, "no, just stay with mommy" He went off to play and that was the end of it.
As far as the fight with the bottle or pacifier, I would let him keep them both. That would be another change in his world and I don't see what would be the advantage of keeping them from him. If you're worried about tooth decay you can give him just water in the bottle. I actually used that to eventually help some of my babies give it up on there own.
I don't know what to suggest about the nights. Maybe someone else has a bit of wisdom for you on that.
I, by the way am not a pushover mom. I realized my comments above may sound that way. I actually am really quite tough but understand consistancy works and after 6 kids and now 2 more it doesn't pay to sweat the small stuff. Praying for you, deb

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Bless your heart! And thank you for serving our country by being a military wife. My father is a retired Colonel in the Army and my brother served in the Army and was in Iraq for 8 months and Korea for 3 years.
I don't have any professional advice but I do have a 2 year old and am 7 weeks pregnant now. If it were my baby I would definitely be very lenient on him right now. Like you said he may be afraid that you are going to leave as well. I don't blame him for being clingy. I really wouldn't try to take the bottle away by a certain deadline. I think he would probably go into a tailspin! Maybe after some time he will adjust and realize that you aren't going anywhere and you can gauge when you think it might be a good time to take the bottle away. I would definitely give him as much extra love as you can right now (I know that must be hard with all that's on your plate) My prayers go out to you and I wish you all the best. And I pray safety for your husband as well.

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First off let me say we have so much in common right now it is not even funny, its amazing!
I have a Husband who is in the Army, he left the 29th of February and I have 3 children, My oldest is 8,my daughter is 7 and my youngest son is 2 turning 3 on March 25th.
Well, I wish I could say a lot, but I am in the same boat as you trying to adjust with (our first deployment).
I work full time as civilian contractor for the Army and I have my youngest in daycare from 7am to 5:30pm.
He has just now started showing out for his teachers, and JUST LAST NIGHT, I was up trying to comfort his refusal to go to bed. I read him a story, I put nature sounds on,(I prayed with him longer than normal), I tried to comfort him,
Eventually I went to my room and just let him cry it out and he fell asleep 10 minutes later,
We will just have to let them get extra activities at night before dinner to try and wear him down, give a bedtime ritual,and call it a night.
I think it is ok that your baby has the binky for now, and I think extra loves and hugs won't hurt, because he may be sensing your moods and adjusting to daddy being gone (children are so intuitive)
And the bottle may be a comfort for now so I wouldn't worry to much about the timeline of taking him off of it (just yet). I would let him have it for now, and when he gets use to daddy being away slowly start working on your goals for him.
PLEASE... email me, lets keep in touch, every little bit of support from the least expected places could mean a lot one day. ____@____.com

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Hi there J.,
That baby knows one of his support systems is gone..he does not comprehend what is happening so he is clinging to you, afraid that you will leave him too. He will get over it in time but you must allow him to gradually feel that you will stay. Then he will stop clinging.
PS thank your husband for his service to his country and to us, and thank you for standing behind him and supporting him, enduring his absence and carrying the load yourself. Bless you and your children!

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I too have been through a deployment with children and it isn't easy regardless of their ages. Hang in there. The separation is hard on them and they don't understand what is going on or why they feel the way they do. My advice may seem over simplified but I found it worked and many of my friends said the same. Patience is best. I realize that you may want to wean him off at the same time as your other children but the situation is very different. It may be best to give him some more time to adjust and then wean him off. One of the problems is that his norm is no longer normal and that is hard for him. If his bottle and pacifier are a comfort it might be better to just let him have those until you feel that he is adjusting to daddy being gone. The clinginess will eventually recede but until then I would just try and be as patient as possible and try and keep things as stable as possible. Good luck and stay strong.

All age children may regress to a previous level of maturity or functioning during times of stress. This is normal and you should not be stressed about it or it will cause him additional stress. Also infants 8-12 months old will normally experience "Separation Anxiety" when away from the primary caregiver or Mom. This usually doesn't last long. As I recall, I think it can last 1-3 months. I always allowed my kids to go back to the bottle or pacifier if they experienced stress or changes in their environment during this age period. Then I resumed whatever my method was before with weaning from both. I would talk about Dad alot, use Dad's picture for emphasis, and just keep reminding him that Dad is coming home.
Also get the other kids to practice the same behavior. Use every opportunity to comment on Dad. Examples: this is dads favorite meal, favorite tv program, dad doesnt like that, if dad was here...so on and so forth. Hope this helps!

My father retired from the Army when I was 17. I really miss the military life...

You live on a military base so you have other moms in similar situations around -- and even the health clinic for more "professional" advice.

What your 11-month-old is going through sounds a lot like separation anxiety. And that's totally normal. He's just a baby and Dad left. Does he get to see when Dad sends emails or letters? I think it's crucial that he be aware that Dad's not gone -- he's away but is doing a job and will be home when he's done. (I pray he comes home safe and whole. You and your family will be in my prayers.)

Ordinarily, when kids throw fits, we should let them work out for themselves how to comfort themselves. But, your son is so young and knowing what he's probably going through in his head, I think I have a kinder, gentler solution. Have a family meeting (maybe a multi-family meeting) and sit all your kids down. Explain to them that Daddy is a hero and that he's away fighting for others' freedom. You understand the fear and the confusion and are open for any questions at any time. For a while, let your clingy son cling. He needs the physical reassurance that you aren't going anywhere. Some regression is bound to happen. I don't even think I'd be overly concerned with the timeframe for the pacifier -- the bottle, though, should probably be gone soon after one...

Explain to your kids that, because Daddy's away doing his job, you are able to stay home and take care of the kids. You aren't going to leave!

I'm so glad you're on base and have other moms to lean on! Good luck and God bless!

First of all, thank you for the sacrifices that you are making for our country. I know it can't be easy handling everything yourself while your husband is away.
Here is what happened when my first son did the same clingy behaviour when my husband left on frequent business trips. He acted the same way as your child but one day Mr.
Rogers came on and showed an airplane. Mr. Rogers went on to say that many children feel that maybe a person (daddy) could fall out of an airplane but that doesn't happen. I looked at
my son and asked if he worried about daddy and that happening.
He said that he did worry about that. We had a talk and I watched my attitude and responce when my husband left and things settled down. I think he had normal fears he couldn't put into words but also may have been picking up on my anxiety.
I hope he does better for you real soon.

I'm not an expert, but a friend of mine had the same problem with her oldest son whenever his dad had to deploy. It takes them some time. He can't express his insecurity. Maybe give him a picture or an stuffed animal that he can associate with his dad and or you. Be patient it's hard being a toddler.

I use pep talks with my son. Now my husband works nights but is home so it's not the same but it may help. When I put him to bed I read a book and then turn out his light and then I tell him good night and that I'll see him when the sun comes up.

When I leave him at day care or with someone else I tell him to be good and to listen and not to hit his friends (this is an issue for him)

Then on either pep talk I ask him "got it?" and wait until he says "yeah, or ok". This does wonders for our routine and can be adapated as needed.


If you put yourself in your child's shoes, it's easy to see why he has increased separation anxiety. But for all children at this age, they begin a new struggle with separation anxiety as they fight to develop the cognitive skill of "object permanence," which just means that your child can't retain knowledge of you in his brain - when you walk around the corner and he can't see you, he is suddenly very afraid you are gone forever. Empathize and give him as much reassurance as you can until he has developed this new skill. Also a good child development book, like Touchboints by Dr. Brazelton, or The Baby Book by Dr. Sears will help you understand all of these little stages, especially the big one coming up when his personality seems to change again as he seeks to establish independence and assert himself. The more you understand the better you deal, and you have so much on your plate. Good luck and God bless.

I would just go ahead and let him have the pacifier for now and work on the bottle at bedtime. We let our son have his pacifier until he was 2 years old, and then weaned him (cut it off and said it was broken). You've got a lot going on right now and it sounds like he's having trouble with the changes. If the pacifier gives him comfort and makes him feel secure - go for it - there's worse things he could want or need. Try to extinguish the behaviors you really don't want (like the waking in the middle of the night) and give in on the stuff that isn't mandatory for you. When Daddy comes home and things stabilize, work on the rest of it. Good luck!

i say let him cling to you but keep him on his schedule.He just wants love and attention and prob. misses daddy.

I would just be paitent{as i'm sure you have} the bottle and pacifier is his way of being proctected..{not that he needs it}it's just like sucking your thumb ,give him time he will put it down,,,he will be proud of himself when he does it too...

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