Breastfeeding strengthens the bond between a mother and her baby. While it’s a joy to have such a strong attachment with your baby, you may find that your baby is more clingy than their formula-fed peers.
Are breastfed babies more clingy? It depends. Every baby is different, so your breastfed baby may be more clingy or may be more confident. Either way, since you have a strong bond with your baby through breastfeeding, your baby will likely be more comfortable with you and let you know when they need you.
Read on to learn more about clingy breastfed babies and how you can help comfort your child.
Breastfed Babies and Clinginess
If breastfeeding your baby, here is some information to help you get through their clingy phases.
Does Breastfeeding Cause Clinginess?
No, breastfeeding doesn’t cause clinginess. Every baby is different, and while some breastfed babies are more clingy than formula-fed babies, some breastfed babies are calmer and more independent than formula-fed babies.
Since breastfed babies are held longer by their mothers, they tend to have a stronger attachment to their mothers and may reach out to them more for help.
Why Is My Baby So Clingy All of a Sudden?
Your baby is so clingy because their attachment to you is developing. Babies have various stresses in their lives, such as hunger, uncertainty, frustration, fatigue, and change.
They look to you for comfort when they can’t figure out their emotions themselves.
How Long Does Clinginess Last?
Babies go through different phases of clinginess throughout infancy and toddlerhood, but most children outgrow this behavior by age 3.
If your child is still clingy by the time they’re in preschool or elementary school, you may want to speak with their pediatrician.
How To Survive a Clingy Phase
When a baby only wants you, it can be frustrating. Here are some tips for survival:
- Recognize it as a normal stage of development: Instead of feeling guilty that your baby gets upset when you leave, realize that every baby goes through this at one point. Eventually, your baby will learn that you always come back.
- Start separating from your baby gradually: If you have to go somewhere without your baby, get them used to it by spending a short time away from them. Leave them in a safe place and go into another room, talking with them as you walk around.
- Always tell your baby you’re leaving: Some parents think the best thing to do when their child is clingy is to separate when the child isn’t looking. However, by doing so, you communicate to your child that you may disappear without warning. Instead, happily say goodbye and then leave.
- Give them a familiar object or toy: Leave a blanket or scarf with your scent so your baby can feel like you’re still with them. A toy or stuffed animal can also help comfort them.
- Let them be independent on their terms: Your child might not like to be alone with a babysitter, but they may wander the house on their own. As long as they’re safe, let them explore. Wait a few minutes before entering the room.
- Follow a routine: Babies thrive on schedules because they know what to expect. Create a routine with your child and tell the caregiver to follow it so your baby feels comfortable.
Psychological Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding offers many physical and psychological benefits to the mother and the baby. Explore the following ways breast milk enhances your baby’s mind, socio-emotional development, and overall well-being.
According to a recent study, breastfeeding allows babies to retain more memories throughout their lives, particularly in toddlerhood at 14 months and 18 months.
The longer babies were exclusively breastfed by their mothers, the more their memory retention improved.
Exclusively breastfed babies also display a higher intelligence than formula-fed babies. Babies who were breastfed for at least six months in infancy had higher verbal intelligence scores at age five than those who were not.
Better Language Skills
Babies who are breastfed pick up on more vocabulary than their formula-fed peers. You can improve your baby’s language skills while breastfeeding by talking to him or her and making eye contact during each feeding.
Good Problem-Solving Skills
Studies show that exclusively breastfed babies had improved problem-solving skills throughout infancy and toddlerhood.
A study monitored 2- and 3-year-old children and studied their motor and cognitive development. The results indicated that the longer a baby was breastfed, the more his or her problem-solving skills improved.
Reduced Risk of Cognitive Impairment
Even though feeding a baby formula doesn’t cause cognitive impairment, breastfed babies are less likely to develop one.
According to a clinical study of children aged 4 to 11 years old who were diagnosed with specific language impairment compared to neurotypically developing children, those diagnosed with language impairment were less likely to have been breastfed as a baby.
Breastfeeding can help both the mother and baby be calmer. In the mother, breastfeeding lowers inflammation, the body’s physical response to stress.
Babies who are breastfed also feel calmer and connected to their mothers while breastfeeding.
Studies show mothers who breastfed their babies get better, deeper sleep at night. They also fall asleep faster at night. Babies who are exclusively breastfed also snuggle with their mothers before bed, helping them relax.
Boost of Feel-Good Hormones
Mothers produce oxytocin as their bodies make milk. This feel-good hormone helps mother and baby develop a strong connection by focusing on and feeling a sense of love for one another.
Physical and Emotional Bonding
Besides breast milk itself, the experience of breastfeeding increases the bond between a mother and a baby.
The affectionate touch of skin-to-skin contact and cuddling that comes with breastfeeding helps reduce social and behavioral issues in both babies and mothers.
Breastfeeding also allows a mother to pick up on her child’s cues and develop their behavior.
Why Do Babies Love Breastfeeding?
Babies love breastfeeding because of the oxytocin released during a feeding. This “feel-good” hormone strengthens the bond between the baby and the mother and makes both more relaxed.
Breastfeeding also allows babies to be closer to their mothers where they feel safe and comfortable.
Do Breastfed Babies Cry More?
Yes, some breastfed babies cry more than formula-fed babies. Breastfed babies cry to communicate to their mothers that it’s time to eat, and they eat until they’re satisfied.
Formula-fed babies might be more content because they’re overfed during some feedings.
Are Breastfed Babies Healthier?
Yes, breastfed babies are usually healthier than formula-fed babies. Breastfeeding allows the mother to share her antibodies with her baby.
Studies also show that breastfed babies are less likely to have stomach bugs, ear infections, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, obesity, and diabetes.
Are Breastfed Babies Smarter?
No, breastfed babies aren’t necessarily smarter than formula-fed babies. There are some short-term cognitive benefits, such as enhanced problem-solving skills and reduced hyperactivity, but the degree of long-term difference is difficult to measure.
Breastfeeding grows your connection with your baby. During your baby’s clingy phases, enjoy the extra snuggles, try to make time for yourself, and seek help when needed.
Mom of three (including identical twin boys), wife, and owner of Parents Wonder. This is my place to share my journey as a mother and the helpful insights I learn along the way.