PSA: No, These 8 Things Won’t *Actually* Make Your Kid Clingy

Ad failed to load

There have been plenty of times when one, or both, of my kids have been "clingy." Usually it's when they're learning a new skill, in a new place, and are feeling incredibly self-conscious. For the most part my kids aren't "clingy" for too long, and as they've grown more and more independent they've relied on me less and less for comfort and security. I've also learned that there are more than a few things that won't actually make your kid clingy, too, and that knowledge has helped me feel more capable of parenting my children in a way that benefits them and their unique needs.

I am confident enough to admit that I used to be an unapologetic "helicopter mom." So trust me when I say that my kids had all the opportunity in the world to become the clingiest kids to ever cling. But they didn't. If anything, the way I chose to raise my children has contributed to their consistent need for independence. Because here's the thing: children require a lot of things. Yes, boundaries are important, but so is being there for your kids so they can have the comfort, love, affection, security, and safety they need in order to feel safe enough to venture out into their new, ever-expanding worlds. I'm not creating cling-on monsters if I am there for my children. I'm preparing them to handle the world, and all that it entails, when I'm not.

Fostering a sense of independence, and allowing your children the space and room to grow and learn on their own, is important. But so is being their port in the storm. So with that in mind, here's everything you can give, unconditionally, to your kids that doesn't contribute to how clingy they may, or may not, be:

Ad failed to load

Paying Attention To Them


There's an old wive's tale that suggests giving your kids too much attention will spoil them. Yeah, that's not true.

In fact, research supports the opposite ideology, especially when your child is still experiencing their baby and toddler years. A study by Alan Stroufe via the University of Minnesota found that in ignoring your child's needs can actually contribute to clinginess, not prevent it. Of all the times I paid attention to my kids, it didn't make them cling to me, but it did help them gain the confidence they need to go out into the world.

Showing A Lot Of Affection

If you have a baby, there's no such thing as "too much affection." Newborns need a lot of it, actually, so the sky is literally the limit. So if you're a new parent and you'er worried that giving your kid too many hugs or cuddles or kisses might stunt their independence, worry no more. I hug my kids more times than I can count in a day, and they're independent beings.

You shouldn't use your affection in ways that manipulate your baby's dependence on you for their basic needs (food, love, comfort), but Dr. William Sears, pediatrician and best-selling author of over 30 parenting books, told Parenting that, "babies who seem the most dependent early on often turn out to be the most securely independent as they get older." Dr. Spears goes on to add that dependency is a natural stage of development, because it helps babies "form lasting relationships as adults." You're their foundation. If they trust you'll love them, it's be easier for your children to eventually form relationships with others. Basically, don't withhold affection fear of feeding their clinginess.

Being There For Them When They Need You


Again, to echo Dr. Sears' advice, being the one your kid runs to isn't a bad thing. The technique called "attachment parenting" (coined by Dr. Sears) is the idea of utilizing the instinctual approach of bonding with baby by "attaching" mom and baby through continuous empathy, closeness, and touch.

There's no better way for your little one to create lasting future relationships with others, than by witnessing how you've done the same for and with them.

Ad failed to load


James McKenna, professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory, tells The Bump that, "sharing your room with baby is said to help her senses develop. Babies need to learn to respond to the sensory signals of others, including smells, movements, sounds, touches and heat."

In other words, co-sleeping won't make your kid clingy. It might help them build a relationship with you, and develop "sensory distinctions," but it won't make them co-dependent people when they're older.

Holding Them When They Want To Be Held


When your child is living that baby life, feel free to hold them as much as you can. It's not going to make them any clingier or needier, but it should help them establish a level of trust between the two of you. Your baby will know that they can rely on you for comfort, and that knowledge is an important and necessary building block in their development.

Baby Wearing International promotes being close to your baby and holding them often, through the use of baby-wearing products. The organization goes on to say all that closeness leads to less crying and happier, healthier babies.

I've always picked up my kids when they asked, not to "spoil" them but because there was something they needed from me — usually comfort or guidance. Wanting to be picked up is usually a sign of an internal sense of insecurity regarding the world around them. So, unless you're creating the anxiety within them by preemptively picking them up for no reason, hold that babe of yours often.

Extended Breastfeeding

According to BabyCenter, extended breastfeeding may actually help a child foster a sense of independence, instead of co-dependence:

In fact, Kathleen Huggins, author of The Nursing Mother's Companion, tells BabyCenter that "forcing a child to stop nursing before he's developmentally ready won't necessarily create a more confident child – it could even make him more clingy."

Ad failed to load

Staying When You Should Go


If you have the chance to go out, but as the time approaches your kid wants you to stay behind, it's OK. It might seem like giving in to their whines and cries will make them clingy, but it could actually promote more independence.

Jude Cassidy, a psychologist and attachment expert at the University of Maryland, tells Slate that your child wants to know you're their "secure base." When they know you're there for them, it's that much easier for them to explore their surroundings and relationships with others. If you were to consistently leave without acknowledging their separation anxiety, or the reasons behind it, they might be more likely to have problems with independence and attachment.

Feeling Attached


The bottom line? Feeling attached to your kid, and vice versa, isn't a bad thing or indicitive of a potential co-dependent relationship in the future. If you want to build trust, be there for your kid early and often. It sounds counter-intuitive, but to prevent clinginess, be your kids' go-to port in the storm from day one.

Watch Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

6 Early Signs You're Going To Have A Short Labor, According To Experts

As far as I'm concerned, a short labor is right up there with winning the lottery in terms of lucky life events. (And when I was actually in labor, I would absolutely have traded a bucketful of lottery winnings for a speedier birth.) While some women…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In March

You can always count on Netflix to keep it fresh: though there are already so many movies and shows to choose from, every month there's an influx of new content to keep your entire family entertained. As February enters its final weeks, it's time to …
By Megan Walsh

Here Are 10 Ways To Boost Your Baby's Immunity To The Flu

As I'm sure you've read in the thousands upon thousands of articles written about it this winter, the flu is spreading like wildfire and it's bad. Really bad. This strand of flu is the worst we've had in a very long time and it's the most widespread,…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Khloé Kardashian Asked Twitter About Her Bump, & Moms Totally Delivered

Like her younger sister Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian managed to keep most of her pregnancy a sort-of secret. But unlike Jenner, Kardashian chose to publicly announce her pregnancy several months before the baby's due date. While there's no wrong wa…
By Sophie Hirsh

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

An Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the t…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack