Shop the fall collection ➔

You always carry her.

You hold her a lot.

You pick her up so much.

Carrying my baby brought on a lot of commentary when I was a new mom.

“Up,” my daughter would signal upon arriving at a park, preschool or playdate. She was “spirited,” as author Mary Kurcinka described: extra sensitive, perceptive, uncomfortable with change.

She’ll become too dependent.

Enabled.

Clingy.

I still lifted.

Museums? Mall play areas? Movies? Big, busy and loud equaled my child’s need for smallness, space, and security.

Colorful play structures that lured toddlers, made mine draw back. Attending children’s concerts usually led to vacating our seats and heading to the quiet room.

I envied free-at-the-knees moms with empty laps who enjoyed eating and having a conversation at parties. They didn’t have to reply, “Mine just needs time to warm up,” when asked why their child wasn’t participating.

As the onlooker sitting on waiting room benches during birthdays at kid gyms, I tried to look amused by the squealing of children yet didn’t want to look discouraged by my downtrodden daughter. We’d roam the room or I’d escort her to the circle of kids gathered around the instructor.

Let her go alone.

Stay back.

You’re coddling.

I still lifted.

“You have to raise the child you have, not the child you wish you had,” says author Dr. Kathy Koch.

Now that nearly-raised child is as independent as July 4th. At 15, she loves going to movies with friends and eats in noisy food courts. She manages her schoolwork and communications with teachers. The one who once ran from the masses now performs on stage during choir shows. She auditioned and made her school’s mock trial team . . . another public performance, oriented activity.

Each year since having left her former school, she is invited to give tours to perspective parents at the annual open house. The principal feels she is a confident leader, poised, and a clear communicator. She volunteers Sundays in a first grade class and landed a camp counselor job, desiring the opportunity to work with kids. This once fearful child decided to step out from her small, private school to attend a large public high school where she did not come in under the security of a friend group. She marched in alone.

I list these examples not to brag but to say that if you are a Coddler Mom, years from now, you may see a gap from where your child was teetering to where she is standing. Baby steps taken have left imprints of self-assuredness and independence in my daughter’s life. She’s still cautious, doesn’t rush in, and there are still hurdles to jump in getting through uncomfortable situations. Here’s what helped:

Knowing and Accepting My Child’s Temperament

You can change and control your response but not your child’s personality. Rather than trying to talk my child out of being uncomfortable, learning about temperaments, development, and approaches that elevate children’s spirits, builds esteem, and honors readiness, was invaluable.

Respecting My Child’s Discomfort

Offering empathy with, “I know you feel afraid,” or “I know the noise hurts your ears,” relaxes an anxious child and gives words to their feelings. Suggesting to return another day, communicates that fears don’t always stick around and strength develops in trying again.

Communicating Plans Ahead of Time

My daughter did better knowing what to expect before an event. When walking into a store I’d suggest, “I’ll carry you until we reach the door and when we get inside, you can ride in the cart or walk next to me.” Laying out the plan enabled her to step in with more ease and giving choice gave her the opportunity to make a decision comfortable for her.

After a day out, I knew my daughter needed quietness to recharge, which she still needs today. She schedules the timing of activities with her temperament in mind, and knows when she needs down time to recharge. She directs her choices based on what she knows about herself. Isn’t that what we want our children to be able to do?

I wish I had seen that every lift up to my hip provided security to later step alone. I should have trusted the passing stages of development more, my fears and words of others, less. For that baby who needs holding now, just might be coddling you when it’s time to live life beyond your hips.

To a Coddling Mom I say:

One day, your arms will retire and be put to rest from lifting. Carrying will have its final day.

You are giving your child love and support.

She’s going to feel accepted, unhurried, and have freedom to launch at her pace, emotionally strong.

Keep lifting.

You may also like:

I’ll Hold You Instead

Mama, You Feel Like Home

The Nights Are So Long

Linda Tang

A wife and mom of two daughters, Linda has authored a YA romance novel and writes for parenting publications. Her PR and marketing career has circled the globe working at Miss Universe, Inc, ‘TEEN Magazine and KABC TalkRadio in Los Angeles.

No One Will Ever Call Me Mom

In: Baby, Motherhood
Negative result digital pregnancy test

This is going to be a tough one. Another seemingly innocuous situation that should be easy, but for me is anything but. It comes in different forms—a conversation, a moment in a TV show, a scene in a book—but it always has the same effect. Some reference to motherhood makes me flinch.  Today, it’s in an English lesson I’m teaching online to a 7-year-old boy in China. I’m supposed to be teaching him to say, “This is my mom.” Slide after slide in the lesson shows a happy mom cuddled next to her child. Mom and daughter hugging. A toddler...

Keep Reading

To the Nurses Who Loved My Baby In the NICU

In: Baby, Motherhood
Woman smiling at newborn in hospital chair

I wish I could remember your face. Your name. Something. But I only had eyes for the tiny baby in front of me. My whole world was about to change and I think you understood that more than I did. He was so tiny. Impossibly small. I had never held a baby so little. He made up for his teeny size with an impressive mop of jet black hair that stood straight up on top of his head. He also had hair all over his body and you reassured me this was normal for a preemie. There was so much...

Keep Reading

My Last Baby Changed Me

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother and baby touching foreheads

I was already a mom of two teenagers. I thought I’d move to a city and join corporate America in a few years. But my last baby changed me. There would be no law school or big city living. Now, I write about life in my little country home. And I don’t see that changing. I thought I’d be that old lady with 10 cats. I already had three I snuggled and loved on. I never cared about the litter box, the clawed couches, or the meowing. But now I find myself disliking pets. I hope that might change. But...

Keep Reading

Real Life Maternity Photos Are Beautiful Too

In: Baby, Motherhood
Pregnant women on floor next to toilet, black-and-white photo

As a maternity and newborn photographer, my feed is full of radiant moms and seemingly tidy spaces in the families’ homes we work in. We always want you looking and feeling your best in your photos, and to avoid clutter that can distract from the beautiful moments we’re capturing. An unfortunate side effect is that it creates the impression of perfection, which can be intimidating for anyone interested in booking a photography session. In our consultations, we frequently hear concerns from pregnant moms like, “I’ve gained so much weight,” “I have nothing to wear,” “My home is a mess,” or...

Keep Reading

Having Babies and Toddlers Is Exhausting—but So, So Sweet

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Family of four with baby and toddler on bed

I took the girls to one of our favorite coffee shops last week and all around me were parents of babies and toddlers. Their little ones ran about in the grassy area out back, toddling up and down the lawn, when it suddenly hit me with perfect clarity—the sun has nearly set on this season for me. It was a realization marked by internal tension, a mourning of the loss of one season contrasted by the joyful anticipation at the arrival of the next. It came out of nowhere and hit me like a tidal wave. Having five kids in...

Keep Reading

You Used To Fit In My Lap

In: Baby, Motherhood, Toddler
Toddler lying on mom's lap in rocking chair, color photo

Hi Love, Remember when you could fit comfortably across my lap in this chair? I do. We’ve done a lot of sleeping and feeding and reading and rocking and laughing and crying (yes, both of us) here these last few years. We still manage to make it work for all of the above, but these days we most often sit side by side. When we don’t, I’m fairly certain we both wake up sore the next day from the necessary contortions. (OK, probably just me.) It’s true, there is a larger chair waiting for us in what will soon be...

Keep Reading

We Don’t Get To Know You, but We Will Always Love You

In: Baby, Loss, Motherhood
Couple holding baby announcement

Dear baby, There is still so much about your dad and me you don’t know, but that takes time. Parents aren’t the only ones watching loved ones evolve. Over time, kids meet new versions of their parents too—we change, we make mistakes, we grow. I often think about what an adult relationship with you would look like, how we might bond or argue, the inside jokes we might have, how we’d show each other love. I hope we’d be close. I don’t know if you’d be loud and goofy like your dad, an empath like me, or something else entirely....

Keep Reading

5 Ways Being a NICU Mom Changed Me for the Better

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother holding up smiling baby, color photo

When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I was panicking inside. A multiples pregnancy would be anything but a breeze. At our 20-week scan, my husband and I were told that our baby girl had a life-threatening birth defect that could lead to serious complications like heart failure and even death if left untreated. In addition to interventions during the pregnancy, she would require lung surgery immediately after birth. This diagnosis coupled with the fact that our babies were born at 34-weeks earned us a NICU stay of nearly three months.   I could write a whole book...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Your Baby Starts Out Feeling Like a Stranger

In: Baby, Motherhood
Newborn feet

Rolling over in bed, lights off and covers pulled high, I whispered to my husband, “It finally happened. I feel bonded with Bubba.” Our sweet 3-month-old slept peacefully in the cradle beside us as I shared the happy news. I laid back on the pillow and smiled up at the ceiling in a silent prayer of thanksgiving and joy. Motherhood feels like the most instinctual journey I have ever walked, but bonding doesn’t come naturally to me, and it never has. When I pulled our firstborn onto my chest for the first time a few years ago, I expected the...

Keep Reading

Becoming Someone’s Mother Can Feel Foreign

In: Baby, Motherhood
New mom holding baby

For my little girl—I’m so blessed I get to be a part of her world. My life changed in a minute. She came into this world so perfect and innocent. I heard her cry and then they handed her over. I held her in my arms and thought I would know her. I longed for that feeling, like I finally felt whole. But the longer I held her, the bigger the hole grew in my soul. It wasn’t long after, in a room full of people, I felt so alone. Motherhood can be evil. I just wanted to go home....

Keep Reading