Yes, that’s my boy… not my baby any more. My little boy.
The time comes in every baby’s life… sooner for boys than girls, I think. They just stop wanting to cuddle as much. Sure – they still want cuddles when they fall or when they’re tired, but they stop being the constant cuddlers they were. Paul (1 ½) is going through this right now. Suddenly, I can put him down without him crying and he would rather walk around, talk to Charbel or even play with toys by himself than just be in my arms.
Happy moment or sad moment?
Both, I think. But more happy than sad.
You know you’ve lost your baby. There will still be some baby moments, especially getting them ready for bed each night and some instances when they just crave that cuddling again for a few minutes… but these moments will be few and far between, instead of the norm. You’re going to miss the cuddles and the comfort you receive when your baby wants to be cuddled all the time.
- You now have a little boy (or girl).
- You now have a little more time to actually “get stuff done”. Now that your baby doesn’t cling as much, you suddenly have empty arms and can use your hands to do much more.
- Most importantly, you now have a precious opportunity to get to know your child in a new way. Sure, cuddling your baby is adorable, but from the beginning, it’s something you know your child will grow out of. All babies, to a greater or lesser degree, want to be cuddled. It’s universal baby love language, and it’s something all babies shed, again to a greater or lesser degree, when they come more in contact with their personalities. When your baby stops being content by just being held and cuddled, you need to find new ways to bond with your child. Your child’s new form of communicating love will be specific to him, and will give you a lot of insight into his personality. It’s also something that won’t change – it might be tweaked a little over time as your child matures more, but in its essence, will remain the same even when your child becomes an adult.
Now’s the time to figure out: what replaces the cuddling for your child? How do you show your child, in a way that he appreciates and understands that you love him? Does he want you to read to him? To play with him? To talk to him? To follow him while he shows you new discoveries? To make treats for him? Does he just beam when you praise him? Does he laugh hysterically when you tickle him and come back for more rough housing?
What does your child naturally want you to do for him or with him, over and over again? What is it that he never gets tired of? This gives you a clue about what he finds satisfying in life. How he obtains this satisfaction will change as he grows and his capabilities develop, but the basic idea will stay the same. If your child likes rough and tumble play and sees tickling as a sign of affection, rather than torture, he will probably continue enjoying physical exertion as he grows older. You might not keep tickling him, but could go for a jog or accompany him to the gym instead. If your child is seeking praise, then verbal affirmation is one way you will always be able to show him that you love him. If he is looking for you to give him things, or spend time with him, you can always find ways to serve him or just be with him as he grows.
Most children enjoy a mix of these signs of affection – they want to be praised, to spend time together, to receive things, etc., but most of them, as they grow, start manifesting a clear preference for one or two above the others. Learning how you can best meet your toddler’s need for affection now that cuddling no longer suffices gives you valuable insight into their personality and how you can continue relating to them as they grow.