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Question
Posted by: C | 2004/02/12

Concerned about baby bonding with caregiver

Hi. I know this may sound silly and I am probably worrying about nothing, but please help. I am 5 months pregnant now, and my mother-in-law has requested if she may look after the baby once I return to work. After careful consideration, I agreed as I know the baby will be safe and well-looked after in her care. However, I am now very concerned that my baby will bond with her more than with me. What if this baby prefers to be with my mother-in-law and I end up fighting for attention? I am planning to send the baby to creche when she is about 2 years old, and I already know my mother-in-law will have an issue with that, but I will deal with that bridge when I cross it. I am just afraid now that my baby is going to think of her as her mother more than me? Am I being totally stupid?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Dear C,
Relax. Kids have a built-in capacity to bond with well more than one person, and wilol bond with both of you. I understand your feelings of concern --- but the average dad, though he loves the kids, doesn't worry that they will bond with mom and not with him. The kids can soon appreciate the differing roles each of you play in their lives, and love you all. Kids bond with the lady in charge of the creche --- but not at the expense of their primary relationship with their mother. You'll be fine.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Lucia | 2004/02/12

Dear C

You are not being stupid at all. Your fear is very real and it is something most new mothers worry about when they have to leave their little one with a cargiver. Can I put your mind at ease - no matter how hard granny tries, she will never, but never be able to take your place. Don't get me wrong, there is almost always a special bond between a grandparent and the grandchild and even a bigger one if granny is the day-mother, but believe me, there is no substitute for a mom and babies have a canny way of recognising mom right from the moment that they are born.

Remember one thing, you relationship with that child is not going to start only once he/she is born, your relationship has started the day you found out that you are pregnant. Baby at first was happy go lucky and not really aware of the world, but as their hearing, etc develop, so also do their relationship with their parents. This is one of the reasons so many clever people suggest you start telling them stories, play music, etc whilst they are still in the womb. Baby needs to get to know your voice. I always thought what a load of nonsens, but I tested it on my youngest one who is 18 months old now. I used to read to her (no matter how boring it got), and sang lullabyes. Know what ? The moment she was born (she was being held by a nurse who was wrapping her and I was still on the delivery table) I asked the nurse to please bring her over to me immediately - and baby actually turned her head ever so slightly in my direction. The nurse just smiled and said she obviously recognised that voice.

It is that bond, (established even before they are born) which no one can break. Granny will always be granny (be careful - they tend to spoil them rotten) and mommy will always be mommy. You are very fortunate to have a caring mother in law who would love to take care of her whilst you are at work, imagine having to leave her with total strangers. You will never need to fight for attention from your child, believe me there are going to be times when you wish she/he would want to go to gran just to give you a break.

Good luck

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