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Only wants Mommy

My daughter is almost 9 weeks old. When she fights sleep, she will not calm herself and refuses to let anyone else calm her down but me. This happens both at night and during the day. I have tried leaving the house for a few minutes to see if she will allow someone else to calm her if I am not around, but I always return to her screaming. We are at a complete loss and refuse to let her cry it out at this age. My husband and I want to go out, but we are afraid to leave her with a babysitter--especially in the evening when this seems to happen the most. What should we do?

I should add that I am exclusively breastfeeding, but she does not fall asleep while feeding. She will also allow someone (even me) to feed her a bottle so I don't think this is tied to hunger or comfort from breastfeeding.

Children often prefer their mother. More than once a Gordon child with a skinned knee has run past me to seek the comfort only their mother can provide. My medical degree and years of pediatric medical experience seemed to mean little to a child with a bleeding knee.

Our children younger than two typically prefer their mom.

When she cries do you typically have to nurse her to calm her down? If you do than you are training her to calm down through nursing and therefore only you could calm her down.

In general, if you have completed a strict bedtime routine and she is waking shortly after being placed in her bed than try to do as little as possible. Try giving her a pacifier, swaddling, hold and bounce her. These things could be repeated by her father or babysitter.

At her age, it is not wrong to nurse her to sleep and transfer her to her bed. However, it is best not too as this eventually leads to nighttime waking beyond 6 months. I also agree she is too young to trying “crying it out”.

Sometimes as fathers we need to be force to step up. Typically, fathers defer to mothers when it comes to crying infants. When forced to take care and console our little ones we can. One of my 9 months and I bonded only after a family emergency forced us to spend a weekend camping without his mother. Try leaving your husband in charge for an evening as a first step.

Given time this will get better.

Follow up

Our routine had been for daddy to put our 3 year old to sleep while I put her to bed, but we reversed roles after reading your advice. This seems to have done the trick. I have also started pumping a bottle for her to have right before bedtime so she is not relying on me alone. She is 3 months old now, and her daddy puts her to sleep most nights without an issue. He is still rocking her, but we are slowly transitioning to laying her down in her bed awake. Thanks so much for your help!

Written March 2011
Follow up April 2011
Dr. Gordon, Orlando Pediatrician







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