Question: I have a parenting question. My 7 week old has become very attached to me. I can barely put her own for a second before she starts to cry. My husband and teenage kids try to hold her but she cries then too. They are frustrated and I feel bad because I know they want to bond with the baby. I’m nervous about what will happen when I have to go back to work. I don’t want the baby to cry all day when I’m away.

Answer: This is one of the many challenges of enjoying maternity leave but also feeling prepared for when mommy has to return to work. I will start by telling you that you are not alone. Deep breaths, mama.

First and foremost, let’s step back and see the positive in this situation:

  1. You have family members that are excited to bond with the baby and are ready to love on her.
  2. You have this beautiful maternity leave time to bond with baby and I’m assuming you still have a few weeks before you must return to work.
  3. You and her and exactly where you need to be, right now. Connected to each other and bonding.

Now let’s talk about some ways to wean her gently to help the transition of you returning back to work run a little more smoothly and foster more bonding time within the family.

First ask yourself, how are you feeling RIGHT NOW. Let’s put all the anxiety and fears about what will happen when you return to work in a box and we will place that box to the side. We know it’s there, but we will give it some attention later.

Let’s talk about the now and your immediate needs.

I am assuming that you are holding the baby quite a bit (which there is nothing wrong by the way!) but to help other family members bond and for you to get a bit of a break, let’s talk about some weaning strategies. Also keep in mind that it’s not easy and since every baby is different, there will be a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best.

Here are a few things you can try:

  1. Baby loves your smell right now. You can try to help her feel calm by swaddling her in one of your t-shirts when you are not holding her. Your smell is soothing, mama. She might find it comforting to have your scent when others are holding her.
  2. To allow family members to hold her and enjoy those moments without upsetting the baby, time these bonding moments effectively. When is baby in the best mood? Right when she wakes up? Right after she has eaten? Look for her cues.
  3. Try working on a good sleep routine where she is put down to sleep in her bassinet or crib as she’s drowsy and not fully asleep. Establishing that now will help both of you in the long run.
  4. If you are breastfeeding, make sure you are now giving her one bottle a day so she is comfortable with both breast and bottle. Try having someone else give her the bottle since she will be bottle-fed by a caregiver when you return to work. This is a good time for someone else to hold her and if timed when she is hungry, she will be more happy to take the bottle. Practice makes progress!
  5. Lean on helpful baby items. Have you tried a baby swing? A sound machine? These things can be comforting to baby, especially when mommy isn’t there.

Now back to that little box of fears for when you return back to work. First and foremost, you are a mom. You have instincts and nobody knows your baby better than you. Tune in to see what is the most challenging for you and baby and work on that. ONE THING AT A TIME. It’s easy to start the “what ifs” and tumbleweed one concern into ten.

Once you have a trusted caregiver and you begin practicing the things you want to work on, the rest will slowly fall into place. There will be hiccups, no doubt. But your mindset is everything. You got this!

**This is for informational purposes only. Personalized coaching and consultations are always recommended for best results to achieve your goals and unique needs. Click here for more information.