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How can I return to work if my 12-week-old cries when anyone else holds her?
Q: My 12-week-old daughter recently started crying uncontrollably every time anyone beside myself (even her father) holds her. I start back to work in less than two weeks and I am really worried about what to do. I've tried leaving the room and also staying in the room and letting her cry while her dad holds her, but she won't stop crying. Please help!
A: I may not have received your question before you went back to work, but if so, I would urge you to delay the return for a few weeks if at all possible. Not many children are that exclusive about who can hold them when they are as young as 12 weeks. Around 6-8 months of age, after they have developed what we call a special “attachment” (usually to the mother), this kind of crying when anyone else does the holding is quite common. But your daughter seems to be demonstrating this kind of exclusivity at a very early age. In order to feel secure, she apparently needs you and you alone. Therefore, if you can be with her full-time a little longer, it would be advisable. Not only would that help her over the current problem, but it could well avert difficulties in the future.

Are you 100% certain that she doesn’t also cry when you hold her—at least some of the time? If that is the case, she may be exhibiting what some pediatricians call “The Three Month Colic”—inconsolable crying that doesn’t seem to be associated with anything in particular. The baby may be fed, dry, and held in a comfortable position and still wail for an hour at a time. My daughter showed this behaviour, and I well know how inadequate it can make you feel. With her, it stopped as though on contract when she reached 3 months—the age of your daughter now. So perhaps her situation will self-correct in the next few weeks. If it doesn’t, you should certainly talk to your pediatrician about it. She may be experiencing a pain that you can’t locate and may need some sort of intervention.

Finally, except for her father, I wouldn’t let anyone else hold her just now. Just say, “It might be better if you didn’t hold her, as she tends to cry when anyone picks her up.” With her father, discuss it and determine whether he needs tutoring in how to hold her and keep her comfortable.