Not long after my second baby was born, Facebook suggested I like a page for sleep training advice (it was as if Mark Zuckerburg himself had noticed the bags under my eyes!). I wasn’t really interested in too much advice this time around because my first baby proved to me that there is no perfect trick that works for every baby, and I had probably tried them all anyway. (My children just don’t sleep. However, they are otherwise perfect. So it’s fine.)
With that being said, I did see something on the page that caught my eye. The words “Velcro Baby” were being tossed around left and right. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, a Velcro Baby is one who prefers to be held constantly when awake AND asleep. Velcro babies cling to their mamas day and night, and they aren’t happy in the arms of anyone else.
Aha! Finally…a diagnosis! I have velcro babies! There’s a name for it…it’s a thing!
Sooo many mamas were desperate for help. Asking how to make their velcro baby more independent. How to get things done around the house. How to SURVIVE.
I totally understand it. That was me as a first time mom. I bought all the sleep books (and subsequently fell asleep reading them). I kept a sleep log. I tried all of the gentle methods. I put my content baby down sleepy but awake (and then picked that screaming little monster right back up!). I asked everyone for their advice. I think I even cut out gluten for awhile. (I wish I were kidding!) I was desperate and discouraged and overwhelmed.
It seemed like everyone else had the answer. It was exhausting. And it wasn’t just sleep. My babies are so so happy UNTIL I put them down or hand them off, or leave the room. It seemed like they were the only babies who wouldn’t go willingly into the arms of others.
With baby #2, things have changed. He doesn’t sleep much better than my daughter. And, like my daughter as a baby, his favorite place is in my arms, and I am his very favorite person, (I know my days are numbered before he figures out my husband is “the fun one”). The bulk of the changes didn’t happen on his end. It was me.
This time around, I’m not just trying to survive with my velcro baby- I’m enjoying him, and the biggest reason why, is his velcro-baby-turned-big-sister. She is now basically a grown up that sleeps in her own bed (all night). I have to beg her to slow down for snuggles. And she turned out to be a wonderfully kind, smart, independent and well adjusted kid.
Would I be upset if he suddenly started sleeping through the night? Not a bit! Would it be cool to leave him every now and then with no tears? Absolutely. But the difference is, this time around, I know this time is fleeting, and that he won’t need me this much forever.
I so empathized with and related to you mamas looking for THE answer. Buying all the white noise apps and swaddle blankets and lovies. Feeling trapped under a clingy baby all day long. I was you.
I know you have tips and tricks coming at you from every direction..but can I just offer you ONE more piece of advice? Embrace the velcro baby (and that mountain of clean laundry that never gets put away). Stop googling. Quit looking at the clock. Invest in a good baby carrier and get comfortable baby wearing. Learn how to safely co-sleep if you want to. Make a list of 5-10 minute self care activities or indulgences you that can enjoy, and make sure you get a few of those in every day.
Mostly, just know that you and your velcro baby are doing just fine.
No baby is damaged because of too much love or too many snuggles.
No mother of an adult tells you they wish they had held their baby less.
And there is no child in therapy because their needs were met too consistently as an infant.
Trust me, there are plenty of ways to mess up as a parent (just ask the Internet!), but comforting your baby is not one of them.
Someday, I will pick my baby up and it will be the last time. I probably won’t even know it when it happens. So for now, I’ll pick up him up EVERY TIME he cries.
Someday, he may not want to go anywhere with me. So for now, I’ll take him everywhere I can.
Someday, he will roll his eyes and call me “Mom” with two syllables and an attitude. So for now, I’ll always respond to the sweet sound of “Mamamama”.
Someday, he will tower over me. So for now, I’ll cradle his whole little body in my arms.
Someday, DAYS will go by without any contact at all (though he better not make it a habit!). So for now, I’ll happily spend our days and nights together.
Someday, he will look at another woman like she is his whole world. So for now, I’ll soak up the gift of his loving gaze.
I may have velcro babies, but I kind of think I’m a velcro mama, and that’s okay. Because it’s true what they say: the days are long, but the years are short. This season won’t last forever, but the memories of their little heads resting on my shoulder and their eyes looking deeply into mine? I plan to keep those for the rest of my life.