21 answers

My Baby Isn't Very Affectionate Towards Me

I have a very independant 15 month old girl. When I leave her in a nursery they always say she did great and never cried. She's happy to see me but not desparate for me when I come to get her (to clarify, she goes to a nursery when I go to the gym, or church for an hour or two). She has not ever been snuggly and lately she seems aggressive towards me grabbing my face, hitting, and bitting. She does not do this to my husband. This is my first child and I don't know if its normal. i think i thought babies were more affectionate than this. I'm wondering if this is typical, a personality trait, or something more serious?

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So What Happened?™

thanks everyone. I am going to bring up my concerns with her pediatrition on our next visit. Its comforting to hear that others experience this with their children at this age. I hope that as she ages she will be more affectionate and cuddly. for now I will be happy for my independant and probably spirited little girl. i will look into that book suggested about "spirited children" because we have suspected for a while now that God gave us one of those. My next baby will probably be needy and clingy with separation anxiety (one of those be careful what you wish for things). She is a sweet heart in her own right even if she doesn't snuggle up to me on the sofa like I pictured in my head.

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In herown way she resents you drowing her off dont worriy about it she will get over it you might show her a little more hugging and kissing first children are hard to understand we try to hard. Relax you will do fine. Ive raised 4 children they are all different A. in no. Hill

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This is just my opinion, but I think most of the repsponses on here are ridiculous. I have a very independent 19 month old daughter and she goes through phases of wanting Papa, Grandma, Grandpa or Mommy. Sometimes she wants her space and wants to play on her own and not be smothered in hugs and kisses. Don't worry about it. I think it's great that they can be independant. I know it's hurtful, trust me sometimes I feel like crying when she'd rather have daddy : ) I don't think it has anything to do with daycare or your art supplies. Sometime people on here want to make people freak out I think. As far as hitting, etc. My daughter went through this a few months back and I read it is completely normal at 15 months to act out when they are frustarted. Toddlers don't know how to verbalize when something is wrong, so they tend to swat, pull hair, etc. Just try to tell her to love Mama and not make Mama sad, that's what I did and it seemed to work. I would have my daughter kiss my boo boo and tell her to love me. Anyway, don't worry.

3 moms found this helpful

Hi H.:
Your gut reaction,is to feel hurt,that your daughter doesn't seem as cuddly or close to you as you feel she should be towards you. Your her mother. While these feelings are natural,you need to try your best, not to appear,hurt or angry. This merely makes her feel as though your disapointed or angry in some way.In a sense,it makes her feel like she can't be herself, you aren't happy with her.As far as her actions when you pick her up after being gone for a time. Those are feelings of frustration or anger. At her young age,she experiences the same feelings you and I do,but is unable to express them verbally. She can't tell you,that she is hurt you left her there. She may have been good,but that doesn't mean she had no fears of you not returning,or that she may have had a lousy day.When she strikes out at you,its not because she hates you,its more like"Dang it mom" "You scared me to death" "Where were you?? "I hate it when your gone" "I was bored to death" "These ladies don't treat me like you do" You of course let her know,that it isn't nice to hit mommy,but by letting her know,you understand, she missed you,by letting her know,you Missed her to,you calm that frustration.You solidify her RIGHT to her FEELINGS. She's also at an age,where she has a need to spread her wings a little as far as independence goes.She wants you to notice shes getting big.Believe me,the cuddles and kisses are still needed.I wouldn't smother her,but some toddlers,are so busy,you have to catch them,and just give them a hug sometimes.As long as she feels your receptive,that you are there with arms open wide,she will feel free to be close.Kids will go back and forth between mom and dad,all their young lives.They will be moms girl,then dads,and when they are finally grown and gone,they always look to mom for that extra support and love.I wish you and your growing daughter the very best.J. M

2 moms found this helpful

A baby who cries and fusses when dropped off at a nursery is what is called, "normal". One who is under 4 or 5 years old who happilly goes to anyone and everyone and doesn't give a hoot about you has a thing called, "attachment disorder". Contrary to popular belief of 2 income households, this is NOT a good thing.

I used to be a vendor for preschool products and would sometimes need to go to the classrooms. It never ceased to amaze me how I, a total stranger to these small kids, would have kids clammering to sit on me and be held, simply because the ratio of kid/adult was not enough and the best thing for babies is: you.

It's only a few years when they are little like that. Enjoy your girl. She will never be little again, but you will always be able to be a part time artist.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi H., I am going through the same thing with my 15 month old. From everything I've read and heard from friends and family, it's a normal stage of a loving, trusting child. At 15 months, your daughter is starting to realize that her actions cause reactions, especially in you. A couple of months ago, my son would throw food from his highchair, just to see if it would hit the floor. Gravity is amazing, right? The chicken falls faster than the bread! But now, he's noticing that I get irritated when he throws things. How do I know the difference? In the past, he'd throw something, and follow its path wherever it led. Now, he's throwing it, but keeping his eyes on me to see what I'll do. Will I tell him "No!" this time, just like last time? Or is it meal/food dependent??

Your child is learning! And she trusts and knows that no matter what she does, even if you give her a scolding for her behavior, you love her, and that is why she feels okay to hit, bite and grab you...

Here's what I do: next time she does hits, bites or squeezes too hard, stop her immediately and with a firm tone of voice look into her eyes as you tell her not to do that. Then, give her something she CAN bite (carrot?), hit (ball?), squeeze (teddy bear), etc. and then when she does it to that, you can give her a hug and a kiss and tell her what a great job she's doing with it. This reinforces that biting is okay with food, squeezing a stuffed animal is okay, and that hitting a ball is okay, but not when you do it to other people. It will take time for the lesson to go through, and there will be times when you're uber-frustrated and just wish she'd stop it already. But be consistent and your daughter will move past this stage.

I know I'm always surprised when my little boy after playing on his own for awhile, he'll randomly just come over and lay his head on my lap (if I'm sitting) or hug my leg (if I'm standing) then head on his way happily.

Like everything with babies, this too shall pass. :-)

1 mom found this helpful

Hi. I'm a foster mom and have delt with little ones with attachment disorders. What you say about your daughter does not sound very healthy. You little one seems really angry with you. I would seek help for you and your daughter before the situation gets worse.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi H.,
I have two daughters, both very different in personality. My oldest was very cuddly and affectionate and the second one not quite as much. The oldest would cuddle with me by request, while the second one will do it only on her terms. The second one prefers to cuddle with dad over me. She did used to bite my cheek and hit at a very young age, but we had to teach her not to. I believe pretty much all kids go through biting stages to some degree. Right now her communication skills are limited, so small children will do just about anything to get your attention, hence all the crying at young ages.

I think you should wait a year when she can better express herself before you feel hurt over this.

She might just be testing her limits with you, since you are probably the closest person to her. I'm sure other moms will be able to relate. regardless, sorry this is happening. :(

In herown way she resents you drowing her off dont worriy about it she will get over it you might show her a little more hugging and kissing first children are hard to understand we try to hard. Relax you will do fine. Ive raised 4 children they are all different A. in no. Hill

Hi H.,
My 15 month old daughter just got out of time out for hitting me. It sounds like your little one is testing her boundaries and she trusts you most to give them to her. Some kids just are not as cuddly as others, and that's just their preference and nothing against the parent(s). They do come prewired.
There is a book I'm ready called "Raising Your Spirited Child", by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.
I'm not sure if your daughter is spirited (strong-willed) but it sounds like the book maybe helpful to you anyway in understanding your daughter.
I would make sure to address the hitting and biting by putting her in time out for 2-3 minutes. Just tell her firmly "We don't hit, bit, whatever" and put in a play pen if you can. Some place she's alone and can't play. I wouldn't go more than 5 minutes or the lesson gets lost at this age.
Take care and don't feel bad, this is a personality trait and an independent little girl trying to find her way.

Heidi H.
Your daughter sounds like a sweetheart. Children go through phases where they favor one parent over the other. In the next few months, you will find your sweet little girl running to you once again. Your daughter likes the company of rowdy individuals; she will mellow out over time, but in the mean time encourage her to be a little gentler. When you spend time with her discipline her when she bites, pulls your face, and hits. This will help her to learn the balance in her life. Observe who she plays with and find out where she picked up these habits, this can also let you know why she continues to take this out on you. Like you, I was upset, but over time, this will pass as it did when you were a child. The use of time out and discipline like this will teach her to calm down.
My daughter was a tomboy, she also has one older brother and one younger brother, and she is a tough little girl. Her favorite thing to do was to do what ever the boys did. I am personally the oldest of three girls and do not like girly stuff (the tom boy).

Hi H., first I want to tell you that your baby is beautiful and God Bless.I had three boys and my second son behavior was that same way in the being.But over time he is so loving toward me.He is my independant baby and that is ok just as long as he don't hurt himself.What I did I let him come to me.For example I would put him on my bed and stretch out next to him,and he would crawl to me.Or I would sit down on the coach and sit him down on the other end,and he realize he had a need for me and he would to me.Then I would make a game out of it. Thank you,T. Keas

Hi H.. First, I want to say that it's 99.9% sure that the reassuring posts about your daughter are totally correct. In all likelihood, she's just an independent little girl who doesn't need a lot of hugs, etc. My sister was this way as a baby (and still is, as an adult!), and she's incredibly well-adjusted and successful.
However, I'm going to be brave here, and suggest you follow up on this with your pediatrician. It is possible that your daughter may be showing early signs of being on the autism spectrum (ASD). Often symptoms of ASD don't show up until after the first year, and they can include a lack of interest in affection from others (both adults and other children), and aggressive behaviors like grabbing and hitting. Of course, these behaviors can happen for many different reasons, but ASD is one of them.
Please don't be alarmed. It's very likely this is not the case, and even if it is, it sounds like your daughter is doing great overall and might just need a little extra attention.
It's hard to write this, since I don't know your daughter at all, and I feel presumptuous. But early detection is everything, and there's nothing to lose by having your doctor do an assessment (most pediatricians have learned how to do a basic assessment for symptoms of ASD. If yours doesn't feel comfortable with this, ask for a referral to a developmental pediatrician.)
Your daughter sounds like a wonderful, smart little girl. I wish you and your family the very best.
p.s. I'm not a health professional. I'm just a mom with a wonderful little boy who has ASD. Please feel free to contact me privately if you'd like.

You say you are an artist... what kind of paint do you use? (or other art supplies) I ask this because my son has multiple chemical sensitivities and had a huge meltdown in an art supply store. i forget how old he was, maybe six or seven. I had to put him in the car and have the people in the store come out to the car to "take my order" (this was Aaron Brothers, and they were very nice about it!) i was shopping for a gift of an Art Box for my older child, so I really needed to get all this stuff. Anyway, the point is, maybe the baby is sensitive to something that is on you, such as trace chemicals of acrylic or oil paints, or the things you remove them with. Or even perfume or hair care products. Try going unscented and see if your baby responds differently to you. You say she is not this way toward others, that is why I would look for a chemical problem. Some kids naturally want more physical contact than others, and some are more independent. How is her development otherwise? Talking? Walking? Hitting the other milestones? If you have other developmental concerns besides being not as affectionate as you expected, then you need to have her assessed for a developmental problem. Early intervention is great, can really help the child get on track if there is a problem, so don't just "wait and see". And the services are free to the user (state funded). Having another person involved can bring great comfort and perspective to you. If you have developmental concerts you would call Inland Regional Center Early Start Program (provided you are in Riverside County) and ask for an Intake Assessment. ###-###-####. If you are from somewhere else your pediatrician will know the right phone numbers. Good luck, B.

This is COMPLETELY NORMAL. Part of it is her very indeprndent personality. It will probably always be a big deal for her to fell competant and independent. Another part reflects the fact that you are a VERY GOOD MOMMY - she obviously feels very safe and cared for. She has no fears that you will disappear or that other people will hurt her because she's always been safe and loved. She feels safe showing you negative behaviors because she knows, deep down, that you love her no matter what. She wouldn't bite a teacher, for example, because she's not sure that something bad wouldn't happen. Take it as a compliment, because that's what her behavior is - a compliment to how you're raising her. Still, set firm limits and tell her "No!" when you need to. She probably will never be a very demonstrative, lovey person, but she loves you very much - otherwise she couldn't feel secure.

Hi H.,
This is totally normal behavior. My husband used to get upset when my son was that age because he only wanted me. But then it changed and only wanted my husband. Either way your daughter loves both of you equally. She is just learning the ropes of relationships. It's great that she cango to day care and not cry and have fun. My son was the same way. It shows that they are well adjusted and know that their parents love them and will be back for them.

You have nothing to worry about... just try to enjoy her and not let her actions upset you. They are not intentional.

Good luck!

This could just be a stage where she is so busy exploring her world she doesn't feel the need to be affectionate with you just now. Watch for things like eye contact with you or other adults and smiling when she sees someone she recognizes. Babies this age do not usually notice other babies either but watch for that too. If you don't see much eye contact or responding to special people in her life, I would talk to my pediatrictian. Good luck and don't give up. Lots of toddlers get totally absorbed in their surroundings.

My daughter is 16 months and behaves similarly to what you are describing. I asked her pediatrician about it at the 15-month appointment and he said that it is normal. He said they understand about 800 words at this age, but still can't say many and so they use physical expression. The quickest way to get down if you can't say down is to clobber the person holding you. He said that I can react and that I can put her away from me if she hits or scratches or pulls my hair -- that I need to encourage her to talk instead (even though it will be a while still). I've noticed that she is starting to "get" that I really don't like it and she will try to mitigate an aggressive behavior by following it up with a kiss or a hug. (There come the snuggles... not that you want them after being whacked.) Anyway, hope it helps to know it's normal, another less than pleasant phase that will pass.

Babies vary on the spectrum of clingy to independent. Her being happy to see you is perfect. It sounds like she is well-adjusted and trusts you and the people you leave her with. The aggressiveness could just be a stage or maybe she wants more of your attention. Appreciate her for who she is.

I was my mom's first and she says that I was never snuggly- I would always sit straight up when she would hold me so that I could look around. It had nothing to do with her or how much I loved her- I was just curious and wanted to be independent from day one. I am perfectly well adjusted and happily married. My mom and I have a good relationship too. So I wouldn't let it stress you out or hurt your feelings. She doesn't intend to hurt your feelings.

1st daughter was very cuddly, but at 12 months she went through the hitting and biting phase too! My 2nd daughter was has never been very cuddly either and at about 15 months went through that same phase as your little one, but now she is 22 months and although she is not as cuddly as my 1st baby she is now more affectionate with kissing and hugging! Also your little one may not do that to dad especially if she is with you more and when little ones feel more comfortable they will act out their phases with you more! Don't worry it will pass!

My son was very much the same, particularly at that age (around 1.5 to 2.5 years). And he absolutely adored his dad. The good news is that he is now almost three and within the past few months has become very affectionate toward me. They say that children treat the people that they feel the most safe and secure with the worst. So maybe that's a back handed compliment? Good luck.

Hi Heidi,

First, I applaud your courage for reaching out on this. It's such an emotional thing.

Hitting a parent means the child does not respect you, for whatever reason. This is Child development, 101. It could be temporary, it could be longer-lasting. Either way, she knows that hitting is not ok, and is doing it because she is upset. It does NOT mean that she does not love you, or care for you, etc. It DOES mean that she is hurting in some way.

The important thing is to address it calmly but firmly, explaining that we do not hit, that it is not ok. Tell her that it hurts mommy (but don't go as far as making her kiss it. That's a bit silly.) Tell her that you love her very much and that you know she is a wonderful girl who is capable of not hitting.

Setting clear boundaries in a calm, non-dramtic way is one way that children learn to respect us. It says, "I am the mommy, and I am teaching you what is ok and not ok because I love you so much."

The worst thing you can do is punish her by putting her in a time out. Children at this age do not understand a timeout. They interpret it as being "sent away" or isolated, which of course, it is. It is punitive, meant to "punish" bad behavior.

Your daughter hitting you is not deliberately trying to hurt you (bad behavior). She just does not have the vocabulary to express how she is feeling, and is also dealing with rising hormones in her little body. All of this is pretty tough on a little kid. I know it's also tough on us moms (my son tries me all the time), but the best thing we can do for them is to extend our compassion ("mommy knows you are frustrated (sad / upset) and I'm sorry about that. And I also want you to know that it's not ok to hit mommy."

Acknowledging our children's feelings --without labeling them as good/bad -- is one of the MOST important things we can do to develop their healthy self-esteem. It sends them the message loud and clear that their feelings are real, acknowledged and allowed. In the absence of this acknowledgement, children grow up thinking it's not ok to be frustrated, or angry, or even resentful, so they bottle them up and let loose later in life.

I am not an expert, but I have read and talked to experts on this subject. My longest standing friend of 17 years is a renowned Montessori Teacher Trainer, and has been in the world of child development for over 25 years. I have been fortunate to receive lots of great input from her on child development stuff.

She runs a well-nown Montessori school for children from age 3 to grade 6 - with over 200 students. They have recently incorporated positive discipline vs. timeouts - for all ages.

One last note, I was recently touring private preschools in the SFV and one of the teachers wanted to convert her 2 and 1/2 year-old classroom to positive discipline. She started by having the children come up with the list of "ok" and "not ok" choices, explaining that they always had a choice of which behavior to use. An astonishing thing happened: the children had no trouble creating a long list of "not ok" behaviors but had difficulty coming up with even a few ok behaviors. What this tells us is that by age 2 and 1/2, the feedback most children get from their parents / caregivers is mostly about what they are doing wrong (not ok choices), rather than reinforcing what they are doing right. It certainly opened my eyes! Yikes! Gotta do more positive feedback in our house!

I wish you all the best as you sort this out. And having used the services of the Regional Center myself, it might be a good idea to have an early intake to screen out any developmental issues.

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