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Clingy baby going to nursery. Please advise desperate mum.

(20 Posts)
JC155 Sat 09-Aug-08 19:59:36

My dd is 12 months old and is so clingy and I don't know how she is going to survive when I return to work. We have been to 3 settling in sessions in the nursery this week and she howled every time I left the room - even for a minute. We have at least 3 more sessions and then she will be on her own from 1st Sept.

If you as a mum or carer know or have any similar experiences, please share them with me as I am worried sick. What are the things I should do between now and Sept to minimise the amount of separation anxiety for my dd. Any survival tips are much appreciated.

wendy33 Sun 10-Aug-08 20:06:43

Hello JC155 I can understand how you are feeling and can sympathise with you both. I have 2 children now aged 7 and 2. Both my children went to Nursery from young ages and I found it just as hard as you do now.

I work in a nursery and see everyday parents feeling anxious about leaving their children. I have a few tips which may make things eisier for you. I hope they are helful and help the trasition for you going back to work easier.

Remembering that the age of your baby is the typical age where they are now more aware of unfamiliar people, the following will help her feel secure.

* A blanket, hankie or toy that has your scent on it may help your baby to feel more secure. The familiar smell will comfort her.
* Transition time between yourself and nursery needs to be made quick, but dont feel forced to leave. If you are not comfortable leaving immediatelly, although in the long run this is sometimes and often better for older children, you dont want to feel like you are abandoning your baby. You need to leave when you feel she is distracted and happy. Reasure her that you will be right back, and leave with smiles. She may pick up if you are lookiing anxious.
Take a familiar toy or comforter with her that is conforting. This will help her through any tears .
Where I work we have a saying. 'Expect tears, if you have none it is a bonus.'
And always remember that your baby will in time come to trust these nursery carers and will be happy to go to nursery and will enjoy her time their.
Nurseries provide many activities and especially sensory one for very young children that they have plenty to distract them. She will be fine and always ring the nursery during the day to check she is okay. A good nursery will welcome your concern and will be willing to help.
Good luck and I hope you find this useful.

accessorizequeen Sun 10-Aug-08 20:17:22

I think wendy's tips are great! Both my ds's were v.clingy about nursery when I first left them (at 5.5 months and then nearly 9 months). I found it extremely upsetting (ds2 is still doing it at 20 months a bit!) and felt so uncomfortable about going to work thinking they were upset.

However, I was reassured by the staff that my baby had settled after I'd gone and was v.happy playing with the other children. I have been known to hang around outside the room for a few minutes (or come back after I've dropped my eldest off) to check if he's alright & he always was although it may take a couple more settling in sessions. DS2 had 3 and bawled all the way through, after the 4th he settled after I had left. A friend with the same age ds found the same thing. They're getting used to a completely new environment and crying is the only way of expressing their confusion. I know that it's really hard to leave your baby crying, but if you know that they're ok after you've left, it's easier to go.

wendy33 Sun 10-Aug-08 20:24:43

Any good nursery will advise you to pop back in a few minutes after the initial few weeks. This 'pop back' is esential for parents to see that their children are happy and playing within a few minutes. Most parents think we just say that, but it really is true. As you said AQ they only know how to express their feelings by crying, as they get older and begin to talk they will be able to express their feelings in a more positive way

JC155 Mon 11-Aug-08 08:45:26

Thanks for all your advice and messages. I have found a toy which I will take to the nursery with my LO today.

wendy33 Mon 11-Aug-08 14:31:15

Hope the advice was of help. Good Luck

bert74 Mon 11-Aug-08 19:58:49

I'm a nursery nurse and a mum, my heart goes out to you having to leave your baby.
In the long run, it will be easier for both of you if you leave quickly, make sure you say goodbye and phone the nursery as many times as you want during the day, the staff will be only to happy to put your mind at rest. Try not to show your baby that you are upset, make leaving a positive time. When you return, have a quick peek in the window, i'm sure you will see that your daughter is happy and this will put your mind at rest.
Good luck. Please let us know how you both get on.

ten10 Mon 11-Aug-08 20:03:11

Have you thought of trying a childminder instead, she may feel more relaxed in a 'home' situation with less children than a nursery which may feel very 'alien'

AnybodyHomeMcFly Mon 11-Aug-08 20:08:13

It is hard but as OPs have said, the tears really do dry quickly.

DS started nursery when he was 12 months old too and after a fairly clingy first week he absolutely loved it.

He has lots of friends and gets to do loads of activities. The staff are very caring and he has a great relationship with his key worker.

I know that nursery care is not for everyone - and of course you can reassess your choice whenever you like - but in our case it has been very positive. I am sure you will make it through the difficult first period.

AnybodyHomeMcFly Mon 11-Aug-08 20:09:41

PS good idea to take a toy, staff can get it out if your LO gets upset. Also good for naptimes.

greenandpleasant Mon 11-Aug-08 20:15:15

My ds started at a mini-nursery / childminders when he was 13 mo. We took it very slowly, just 2 hours first few days. Definitely found it hard going and had real ups and downs throughout the time there. 3 months in and he went today for a whole day, 9 hours that is, and is loving it. BUT he still howls when I leave him, in fact he howls as soon as we get there because he knows I will leave. I wait in the hallway where he can't see me and he has stopped howling within 30 secs, stops crying / whimpering within a minute and is back to normal in 90 seconds. WHen I come to pick him up he is so absorbed in what he is doing he barely gives me a second glance.

The childminder is fabulous, she gives a very detailed report and is utterly honest about his moods so I know she is not just saying he's fine when he's not. He is having a really good time now and I was VERY sceptical about nurseries and not keen to try, but now feel he gets a great change of scene and a better mother for me having the break. I'm sure your nursery is good, but think it is wise to keep in mind alternatives if you think your dd is just not settling.

greenandpleasant Mon 11-Aug-08 20:16:28

My ds started at a mini-nursery / childminders when he was 13 mo. We took it very slowly, just 2 hours first few days - can you take your time over settling in?

He definitely found it hard going and had real ups and downs throughout the time there. 3 months in and he went today for a whole day, 9 hours that is, and is loving it. BUT he still howls when I leave him, in fact he howls as soon as we get there because he knows I will leave. I wait in the hallway where he can't see me and he has stopped howling within 30 secs, stops crying / whimpering within a minute and is back to normal in 90 seconds. WHen I come to pick him up he is so absorbed in what he is doing he barely gives me a second glance.

The childminder is fabulous, she gives a very detailed report and is utterly honest about his moods so I know she is not just saying he's fine when he's not. He is having a really good time now and I was VERY sceptical about nurseries and not keen to try, but now feel he gets a great change of scene and a better mother for me having the break. I'm sure your nursery is good, but think it is wise to keep in mind alternatives if you think your dd is just not settling.

Not a huge amount of help but may give you reassurance about the fact that they do settle - and if they really don't then something is not right for them.

JC155 Mon 11-Aug-08 23:08:06

I felt so miserable over this weekend and questioned if I had made the right choice of care for my dd. I think if she doesn't settle within a couple of weeks then we will have to review the situation.

Today, I spent over an hour with her before telling her that I was going to leave to get her a toy. She seems to understand this as she clung onto me tightly. I was mightily impressed when her keyworker manage to stop her crying after a few minutes as I hid behind a wall. I reappeared with her toy when she started to cry again. This is a small step but a huge landmark for both us.

Your messages of support coupled with this made me feel so much better today. Thanks everyone.

accessorizequeen Tue 12-Aug-08 23:09:09

JC, glad it went better today. Really, don't despair about it all, it can turn around in a session or two & you'll feel better about leaving her.

jimmyjammys Fri 15-Aug-08 15:47:16

JC, I went through the same thing, my DS had a really tough time settling in but he has now only been there for 3 weeks and he really loves it. The first few days he cried when we left him and cried when we picked him up and he wouldn't drink his milk or eat his lunch. Now he hugs and kisses his carers goodbye and is really excited when we drop him off and tries to run back in when we pick him up. He is 12 months now and I would never have believed how quickly he has settled. He has friends and the other day one of the other little boys came over to him as he was leaving and they both hugged each other goodbye. If you are happy with your nursery then your DD will be absolutely fine. DS is still clingy at home, he will still cry if i leave the room at home but he seems to have worked out that mummy has to leave him at nursery and that he will have a nice day and then mummy will come and get him again.

Pinkjenny Fri 15-Aug-08 15:52:16

JC - dd is 15mo and has been at nursery since she was 9mo, two days a week. She still tends to whinge when I leave her, but she settles really quickly. If she is particularly upset, for whatever reason, I always call them half an hour or so later, and she's always fine. I think sometimes she cries more in protest than real trauma!

I really enjoy picking her up at the end of the day and just watching her, before she sees me. It heartens me to see that she is playing happily.

And trust me, it gets easier to leave them crying as well. As you gain confidence in the nursery staff, you won't find it as difficult. I absolutely adore our nursery, and have so much faith in the care that she is receiving, that I don't worry anywhere near as much as I used to.

This is a prime age for separation anxiety too. I had to butter toast and put make up on this morning with dd (who can walk perfectly well) on my hip.

grin

JC155 Sun 17-Aug-08 11:53:00

After 7 settling in sessions, dd did not make much more progress ie she howls everytime I leave the room and I find it difficult not to return within 5 or 10 mins. The nursery is now closed for 2 weeks and I am worried that the whole process has to be repeated in Sept when I return to work! I feel so stressed.... I really thought it would be easy to go back to a part time job that I love.

Has anyone got any suggestions of things I could do at home to train her to be less clingy? Before the summer hols, we usually attend 3-4 activities per week but now we have only 1 activity to go to.

Should I consider finding alternative care or stick with nursery for a while?

accessorizequeen Sun 17-Aug-08 20:06:57

Sorry it's not going too well JC, I know how upsetting it all is from experience. 12 months is unfortunately a bad time for them to be like this as they're more aware than as younger babies. Not that that helps you. I had to do the same thing with ds2, settle him in via a few sessions, then we were on hols for 2 weeks & I started work week after we got back. I did actually leave him a bit with other people (his dad, my sisters, my dad) when we were on hols, I don't know if this made it easier.

TBH, this is a stage and they get through it when they're ready and nothing will change that. I really don't think looking at alternative care will change the situation, she won't react any better as she will still have separation anxiety. My ds was the same whether I left him at nursery or with his dad. If you're happy with the nursery (and you seem to be) then stick with it. I'm sorry to say but it may just be a longer period that she needs to settle & she may continue to cry when you leave her. Leaving straight away is really the best thing and popping back after 5 mins will only unsettle her more, tough as it sounds. Have you actually left her for longer than 10 minutes yet or do you keep going back in & pick her up? I do know it's heartbreaking - are you doing a staged return to work so that you're not immediately away the whole time? Can your dp/dh drop her off sometimes if it's not as bad with him?

blackrock Sun 17-Aug-08 20:29:17

My DS was 10 months when he started at nursery. I hadn't left him with anyone beforehand.
The nursery were more worried than me as they said integration is trickier between 8 and 14 months ,but we did it!
Persevere, reassure, leave the room and stand behind a door (my DS used to stop quite quickly once I was out of sight) and ring the nursery after ten minutes to see how they are getting on.
Stick with it, as your DC becomes more familiar with the key worker things will improve. I tried going back several times and leaving with the same cues. 'bye bye, be good, see you later' Now he says this to me! He is 2.3 and adores nursery. Hope this reassures you.

blackrock Sun 17-Aug-08 20:31:43

MY DS was also much better when dropped off by DH! Worth a try perhaps.

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