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How much attention does an 18 month old need?

(23 Posts)
VFVF Mon 20-Jun-11 09:25:37

I ask genuinley as I don't know anything about children really and am learning as I go along!

DD is 18 months, and has been generally quite 'easy' up until now. She seems to be going through a very clingy phase at the moment and I was wondering if anyone had any tips for this? She never leaves me alone! Dont get me wrong, I play with her a lot, but I also need to get the dishes done and have a shower etc! The only way I'm even able to write this now is I've put her in the bath (her current favourite activity).

She also demands to be carried around the house wherever Im going. If I dont carry her she screams and wails (even though she is perfectly capeable of following me by walking!) This is giving me a bad back and means I just cant get things done as easy!

I feel like I spend my life entertaining her (Im a SAHM at the moment, although going back to work soon, another worry!) I do love her and love interacting, but not for 14 hours a day! I dont know if I would be unrealistic to expect her to entertain herself for a little while?? In some ways I feel as though Im making a rod for my own back, but then I feel guilty about how young she is and that I should just suck it up and play with her if thats what she wants.

DH is very supportive, but works long hours. He comes straight in and plays with her, but she then just demands both our attentions!

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

VFVF Mon 20-Jun-11 09:26:39

Ooops! Should add that I'm in the bathroom with DD! I haven't jut keft her there so I could MN smile

Ivortheengine8 Mon 20-Jun-11 09:29:39

I don't kow the answer. I have a 19 month old and tbh I could not manage carrying her around the house as I am pregnant. I never really have done it to be honest as I had a bad back after the birth for a long time. She is fairly independant though and always has been which makes it a whole lot easier. I think they also need to learn to entertain themselves and realise that they can't have mummy 'all' the time.
She is not all that young now. They are up and walking and capable of much more. I also know that mine can be quite manipulating!

Ivortheengine8 Mon 20-Jun-11 09:32:42

Sorry not much help.
If my DD follows me into the bathroom I say 'out, I'm getting cold!' blush We live in a flat so she wanders around freely even though we have had to move everything up close to the ceiling!

3littlefrogs Mon 20-Jun-11 09:34:02

IME they do need constant attention. This is where the loss of extended family has had a huge impact on the pressures on parents. In cultures where there is a lot of extended family, the child rearing is shared. I am sure this is better for parents and children.

I used to take mine out all the time to wear them out, as the only time I could do anything was when they were asleep.

I don't think an 18month old can entertain themselves - they are too young.

If you can get to know other mums with small children, it can be very helpful. You still don't get anything done, but at least you get some adult conversation and the other children are a source of interaction/distraction for your toddler. Of course they will wallop each other with their toys from time to time, but it is valuable for developing social skills.

I know it sounds trite, but mine are grown up now, and I can't believe how fast the time has gone. I really miss those days, and I wish that I had spent more time playing with them and less time trying to "get things done".

mousymouse Mon 20-Jun-11 09:35:05

your dd sounds normal and absolutely lovely!
maybe it is time to start her in a setting with more children around?
my dd is the same age and she has these phases as well. I let her help doing the dishes next to me, give her a toy hoover etc so that I can get things done. usually she gets bored after a minute and then wanders off trying to find mischief smile

supadupapupascupa Mon 20-Jun-11 09:38:13

it's trial and error i'm afraid.
Lots of toys and show her how to play with them. Cbeebies is our best friend when need be.
I trained DS by leaving him for a minute at a time and making a big deal when I came back in he room about how good he had been playing with his toys.
I found a bumbo brilliant for meal times and keeping him in one place (infront of the telly) in emergencies.
We also had a playpen for a while although with mediocre success.
I shower during nap time.

Above all, it does get better. She just needs to learn how to play by herself.

BertieBotts Mon 20-Jun-11 09:38:58

I think DS was quite full on at 18 months too. He only really started playing alone after he turned 2.

I used to use a ring sling a lot for jobs like washing up and cooking, they can sit on your hip and then when you get used to it you can scoot them around onto your back.

Also see if you can incorporate ways for her to "help" you with any jobs possible. So she could pass you things from the washing basket to the washing machine, or put them in the machine herself. With washing up you could give her a plastic washing up bowl and some plastic bowls/plates/cups/cutlery etc to "wash" with lots of bubbles on the floor while you do the main washing up. Put the whole thing on an old towel wink

And when she naps, don't do jobs, relax!

Ivortheengine8 Mon 20-Jun-11 09:40:34

I think they are all diferent though 3 little. Mine will quite happily sit and play with her toys for half an hour.

BertieBotts Mon 20-Jun-11 09:41:23

Oh yeah and TV. I did abuse TV a fair bit.

3littlefrogs Mon 20-Jun-11 09:49:55

I agree ivor. They are all different.

I am prepared to be flamed for this, but:

I had 2 boys first, and they needed constant supervision and frequent forced marches every day, or the house would be wrecked.

My third was my lovely dd who was positively angelic, and much better at playing quietly and nicely, and all together a lot less demanding!

Ivortheengine8 Mon 20-Jun-11 09:55:28

I do have to take her out everyday though for a walk or like your boys she would go insane! I leave the buggy at home most of the time now as well now as she does like walking and when we come back she has a blissful nap as do I!! I wish my little girl were like yours! sad
VFVF does she get out much? Fresh air and marching seems to do the trick!
From that point of view, yes if she goes quiet suddenly for longer than usual I have to go and check she is not colouring the walls or sofa in or eating the box of rice crispies she spilt over the floor!

FetchTheMaid Mon 20-Jun-11 10:02:45

Have one slightly younger. She's also very attached and if I even try to sneak out of a room - eg to put kettle on - she jumps up as if she has been shot and gives a look of panic before following me out of door. Quite often she grabs at my legs to show she wants carried rather than walking herself.
If I announce I'm going to do something, it seems she assumes she must also come with me.
Tried to leave her watching TV (short time only!!!!!), playing with toys, with her books, etc etc but this doesn't work - she just wants to be with me.
We do go to toddler groups and she plays really well away from me but regularly looks to check I'm still there.
It's getting slightly better - she'll be distracted by older siblings when they come in from school and goes off wandering around the house investigating now.
My second child was also like this and my others weren't. By coincidence my two 'clingy - I want mummy' children had bad colic and the others didn't.
My second child grew out of being so needy by the time he started school smile

Not too bothered by it (most of the time) - some kids are just like that.

VFVF Mon 20-Jun-11 11:00:39

Phew! An hours peace while she has her nap!

Thanks to all that replied, in answer to some of your questions, yes I do try and take her out every day, and she is not nearly as clingy when out! I do think I need to start taking her on little walks more often, we have a field right next to our house that she loves to go to.

I also think a bit more child play places would be good. At the moment we see friends with kids about twice a week, and for the most part she likes this (except for when she gets beaten up! Poor kid has a target on her face for other toddlers!) I did go to baby groups when she was younger, but unfortunately I had quite bad PND (I still have it to a much lesser extent) and I used to leave every week and cry when I got home because I was oversensitive about things the other mums used to say. Perhaps I should summon some courage and try again, I think DD would benefit.

monkoray Mon 20-Jun-11 12:22:49

My ds sounds similar to you dd. Although he can walk when we are in the house he likes to be carried. I too have a bad back. I found a hip seat works well. It has a thick belt so when your dc sits on the seat it pulls the belt onto your back like a wrestles support belt, protecting your back.
I shower with him, he likes the shower and its easier than letting him trash my room or stand in the bathroom yelling. And we go out for a long walk every day I look after him. I have to take the buggy because he will decide he doesn't want to walk and then I end up carrying him. I have also just bought a mei tai sling so I can carry him on my back for short trips - this doesn't hurt my back if I tie the straps under my arms rather than across my boobs. I tried a ring sling but you end up popping your hip out to support your dc and that can hurt your back.
My ds also does one day in nursery so he can be with other kids. Even though you are a sahm you should consider this to give you a break, and give your dd a chance to mix with other toddlers - its also easier than having to go to groups with other parents (totally know what you mean about getting upset by what other parents say inadvertently)
Also soft play areas are great. My ds seems happy to run off and do his own thing there. And it really wears him out.

EasyFriedRice Mon 20-Jun-11 14:02:03

I could have written the op myself except my 18 month old daughter isn't walking yet and so I do have to lug her around all the time. She sleeps a lot though (12.5 hours at night and 2 hours in the afternoon) so I get quite a bit of time out.
We try to go out 2x a day as that leaves play time together at home as chunks of less than one hour, which I can handle. She won't watch TV, she just isn't interested.
She's an engaging thing though and as one PP said, I'm trying to enjoy it as I know it'll go by very fast.

BaaBaaHerdwickSheep Mon 20-Jun-11 14:12:25

I have a very very active DS who is 18 months and to be honest I don't agree with those who say that kids of this age can't play independently. That's not to say that all can either - they're all different as others have said. DS loves racing around the garden with a football, rolling around in the grass etc - and I can sit and have a cup of tea while he does that so long as I get up and kick the ball around for a bit as well. He also is very happy to play in a corner for 15-20 minutes at a time with various toys and especially books. After a bit of time he'll bring a book over to me and demand to be read to at which point I know he's had enough.

It's probably just personality rather than anything I have particularly done, however I would say that I've always got on with chores while he's been around for short periods during the day, leaving him on the play mat or with whatever toys he had at the time, so he's always had time to do his own thing. He's also been in nursery a few days a week since 9 months and I think kids generally do become a bit more independent when they do this as they can't have constant one-on-one attention - so you might find that this happens once your DD is in nursery. I'd definitely agree that playdates / playgroup would be good too.

good luck.

tabulahrasa Mon 20-Jun-11 14:17:11

they need pretty much constant attention, but sometimes that is talking while they play next to you and you do things like wash the dishes

I'd not be carrying her round with me if she can walk though, no matter how much she wailed and screamed at me hmm

Ivortheengine8 Mon 20-Jun-11 16:48:10

I agree baabaa mine sounds like yours. She doesnt even notice most of the time if I walk out of the room or not. When we are at playgroup, I can quickly sneak off to the toilet without her even noticing I am gone! Yes, she gets fed up and bored sometimes if I am doing the chores but tbh I'm mean and usually ignore it. Afterall I spend a lot of time with her the rest of the time and do different things with her everyday. Especially with another on eon the way, it just wuldn't work.

Ivortheengine8 Mon 20-Jun-11 16:48:55

wouldn't *

chocolatebourbon Tue 21-Jun-11 20:24:45

DS (now 18 months) has always been like this so to me it is normal. I don't carry him any more because he is big for his age and I am pregnant with a sore back. I basically just had to say a full stop no to the carrying and put up with the howling for a few days until he got used to it - not fun but
I didn't really have any choice. However, he will grumble and eventually lie on the floor screaming if I try to stop playing with him to do jobs. I have found it easier to just accept that he needs attention pretty much all the time and that the more frustrated I get with it the worse it seems to be. So I have learnt to prepare meals that require minimal input and save most jobs for naptime/evenings...and to try and keep myself relaxed, though it is difficult! His favourite activities are probably eating and painting (not sure he can tell the difference somtimes....) so often he will sit in the highchair and do one of these in the kitchen whilst I am doing chores - works as long as I come back to him at least once a minute or so to give attention, and it has taken a long time to get that far. Good luck - I am sure it will get easier for both of us!

MovingAndScared Tue 21-Jun-11 20:43:52

My DS1 was very like this - very hard work - although I just refused to carry him- and if he cried so be it
shower he would watch me
dishes in the high chair with snack
do go along to some toddler groups sounds like your DD would love them -and its quite a different vibe from baby groups - less time to sit round and chat for one thing - and some are very friendly - maybe post on your mumsnet local for recommendations?
and if you are going back to work soon do you have childcare - sorted as you could maybe start it soonish gradually -ie morning/day a week which would give a break and also give you confidence she will be ok when you are away
with my DS1 he just loved interaction with people - it didn't matter who the people were really - could be other children, childminder, grandparents - he is still quite like that at 5
my DS2 is quite different at 16 months but has always played on his own from quite little - but also has his older brother around quite alot so has company/attention from him

AngelDog Wed 22-Jun-11 00:10:10

I agree with Baabaa. My DS is often happy to entertain himself for 15-20 mins at a time, but other days he needs 100% attention. I think it's personality not anything I've done.

I try to include him in things - he 'helps' me press buttons (microwave / breadmaker / light switches), throws around sorts laundry, stands on steps at the worksurface and throws food on the floor helps cook, chucks things in the bowl while I wash up. Or if he wants me to read to him, I'll get him to put his book on the top of his steps so I can 'read' it while I'm cooking etc. The steps were from Ikea and have been brilliant.

When he is happy to potter around by himself, I try to leave him to his own devices, but I try to give him attention as often as he wants it.

Separation anxiety often peaks around this time, and there is a HUGE developmental spurt around 18-21 months which often makes children (temporarily) more clingy. You can read more here

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