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Child Caring

Does baby prefer grandma?

Hi Barbara,
I am a stay-at-home mom of a gorgeous 10 month old boy. I run a business from home and am quite busy so my mum comes over once a week to help out. Recently, when I have gone to take bub from my mum's arms, he has cried and not wanted to come to me.

I am afraid that he prefers to be with her over me. Could there be a cause/solution for this? Could this just be a phase?

Thanks so much for your help!!

From: JaySee, NY


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Dear JaySee,

Are you too busy? Are you always in a rush? Sometimes having a home office can be a curse -- very distracting. Maybe your mum slows life down to a pace that is more comfortable and focused on him. Just a thought.....
Meanwhile, here's what to keep in mind developmentally:
The typical 9- to 12-month-old is beginning to grasp the concept that people and objects can disappear and re-appear. Think Peek-A-Boo: something out of sight still exists. Often a baby who is in the midst of so-called "separation anxiety," which typically peaks in these months, doesn't want a parent to leave: Mom's out of sight! How do I know she'll come back?" Upon our return, some of those babies need help with the transition. Pretend this is his thought process: "You left me! I wasn't sure you were coming back. And then I had a good time. But now you're back and I'm remembering: That was scary!"
Even though this is likely a normal phase, your reaction can make this easier or harder. Here's what not to do:
* Don't be angry or jealous of your mum, and don't think you need to be more like her for your baby to "love" you. You're each an individual.
* Don't take this personally, don't react in anger to your baby: "Fine, you don't want me, I don't want you, either!"
Instead, consider this the message you want to send is, "I'm here, I love you no matter what, even if, right now, you don't want me."
Be patient and go slowly. Don't just walk in the room and expect to take him out of mum's arms. First, just be there with them, make eye contact with him, talk to him, focus directly on him. Chances are, if you give it a few minutes, he'll reach out for you. If he clings to grandma or returns to her, say out loud, "That's OK. I'm here now, I'm ready for you when you're ready for me."
Show physical affection to your mother. It's a reminder to him that the two of you have a loving relationship, too.
Work with your mum to create a routine that anticipates your return ("Mommy's coming soon!") and make the reunion predictable, so he knows what to expect for the first few minutes. Maybe you always read a story together, or play on the floor, or have a snack.
Communicate with him. Whenever you are about to leave him with mom, even if it's just to go into your office, tell him, "I'm going into my office now. I'll see you in a few hours." He's cognitively able to take in more than you may realize. When you return, you can say, "See, I came back, just I like I said."
Spend time cuddling and playing with him, once he's ready.
Make this your mantra: "My baby doesn't love me any less because he also loves someone else."
In the interest of covering the bases, is your unspoken question that your baby is what researchers would call "poorly attached"? I doubt it -- you don't sound neglectful or rejecting of your baby -- but read more if you're concerned.