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My 10mnd old wants 100% of the time attention, how can I reduce this?

When I or his mom are around, he can play somewhat solo. I often sit near him, but do my own thing (play a game on my phone or something). When he checks if I'm there, I always have a small interaction with him. I also make sure to actively play with him some of the time. I dont expect 100% independency.
His mother and both his grandmothers experience the same. Sure, thats not 100% solo playing, but that would be what I expect of a 10mnd old. He can entertain himself about an hour or so.

However, when we bring him to the daycare and we pick him up at the end of a day, we get the comment that he has been practising for tornado siren all day (he has a good set of lungs), unless they give him full attention, which they cant because he's not the only kid there. This is coming to the point where the daycare is dropping hints that they might not be able to do this for a lot longer. Their main argument is that this cant be fun for him and while its not really a problem now, this might soon turn in an a bad experience permanently. The guardian there has been doing this for about 30 years and she says he is one of the most difficult cases she's ever had.

He is like that with more people. My father (more of a 2yrs+ kind of person) has difficulty with him too, my kid can be (and is often) described as pretty intense. You have no doubt wether or not he is liking something. While entertained he is happy with the same intensity.

I'm looking for something we can do. My first though was to "leave" (eg do laundry a small distance over) him for 5mins, then come back. Then increase that more and more. However, when he is at the daycare, he will not stop crying at all. Practicing this has booked us no results at all.
All people babysitting him have been told to practice this and they all do, and it works for them, as long as there are no others to share attention with.

When the daycare guardian picks him up and gives the attention, he stops crying, I'm fairly confident he sees her as a safe person too. The guardian suggests that he might be overstimulated because when the other kids go to bed, he becomes easier. But when I ask if she then gives him more private attention, the answer is yes. Me and his mother also are not really under the impression that overstimulation is the issue, as we bring him to more situations where there is plenty of stimuli, and he doesnt really seem to impressed by it. He also like a bit more wild playing, such as swings, or placing him on one of the kid cars and drive him around.

His week is like so:

  • Monday: His mother has him (private attention, but then he plays well enough)
  • Tuesday: Daycare, significant crying when left alone (even for a few seconds!)
  • Wednesday: His mother has him (private attention, but then he plays well enough)
  • Tuesday: His grandmother has him (private attention, but then he plays well enough)
  • Friday: I have him (private attention, but then he plays well enough)
  • Weekend: I and his mother have him (private attention, but then he plays well enough)

We're out of ideas how to approach this and we need the daycare to work. Does anyone know a good technique we can try?

My mother described me the same when I was young, easy but continues, she left me to cry and that seemed to work for me, but when my kid is with us, no real issues. And letting him cry does nothing for the daycare.

He has no issues with sleeping, wherever he is. At the daycare he becomes so upset he barely eats/drinks, worsening everything.


Little addendum: The daycare is very much in line with our philosophy. She takes them outside often, lets them play in the rain (she has raincoats) and stomp in puddles (she has boots). She promotes creative behaviour (like couloring), they sing together (I dont like singing, but its a fun kid activity). She is not a neatfreak, not scared of a booger etc, but does care about hygiene to a realistic standard. She is of the "emphisise positive, redirect negative" style (unless something serieusly wrong), creating self esteem. We do that too.

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  • How does he respond when he has to share attention in other settings than the daycare? For example, when you and his mother are talking and he can't get instant attention? Or when other children are present? Feb 28 at 11:31
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau No real issues. With us he is more forgiving. Its not really about getting attention when he wants attention and and getting angry when he doesnt get it. He just wants it at a steady rate all the time, when with us the 'continues' part reduces to 'part of the time'. I like to think we're doing something right, because when he is sick or has teething pain, he is a lot more calm around me/mom than even grandmothers
    – Martijn
    Feb 28 at 12:05
  • When did you start leaving him at daycare? I imagine that you only started recently...
    – Questor
    Mar 4 at 19:17
  • @Questor a little late, yes. We'd've liked a bit sooner, but no available options.
    – Martijn
    Mar 5 at 7:57

2 Answers 2

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I'd look for another daycare, honestly; if it's only with them and not with anyone else, that's the variable. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with them per se, perhaps they just aren't a good fit for your son.

That said, it's totally normal for a ten month old to want a lot of attention. Especially if he's behind on crawling/walking and is largely immobile, it's SUPER boring to sit in one spot all day and not do anything! I'd be upset, too. His mind is fairly advanced - and at 10 months old, that mostly means socially! - and so he wants that stimulation.

This may change some in the near term, especially if he starts moving around more - there's a ton of exploring type options available at that age. Can he explore the daycare? Is it structured so the infants can move around a lot, crawl all over, find things to play with? Or is he sitting strapped to a chair all day? Consider things like that in your daycare choice; a kid with options will be happier than one without.

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  • He cant move yet, we're working on that (as far as you can work on that). They daycare he goes to is otherwise in line with what we like, so we prefer to keep this. In march he will go to another (wednesdays), we will see how that goes but we're expecting the same outcome thb.
    – Martijn
    Feb 27 at 20:36
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    You answer has a part of what turned out to be the issue: He was extremely frustrated that he couldnt do anything. He can now move around and that alone reduced it 80%.
    – Martijn
    Apr 3 at 8:39
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I wanted to post that he had a good day today at the daycare! We got the feedback that it seemed like we gave her a whole other child. The changes that took place this time:

  • His mom is no longer sick (she was for 2+ weeks, yay young children). While he was not majorly affected by this, it now enabled:
  • His mom now had time to play with him in the morning. She spend about 1.5-2hours with him. WHen I had him, I woke up and dropped him off when I want to work, spending less time with him (about 0.5hrs). My guess is that this is the biggest contributor.
  • We changed his breakfast. He used to get half a banana/orange-juice smoothie, now he also gets a slice of bread. He has become a little bigger, it could be the smoothie was sufficient anymore.
  • He learned how to move! He learned how to buttslide (is this the term? I'm not english), so he can move around a bit, go where he wants to go(-ish), significantly reducing the stress.

Today we can apply the same routine, lets see if this makes any difference.


Edit: In our case it turned out that moving around reduced it 80%. He still wants us to be around and especially when he gets tired he wants us to hold him, but that is absolutely expected. When he slept well, he plays 30min 'solo', 5-10min attention, 30min 'solo'. That is a gigantic improvement! He has now also figured out he can point to things he wants.
Also no issues (well, not this one) at the daycare anymore :)

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    Welcome to having young children. They continuously develop and what worked yesterday may not be good enough today. Prepare yourself for lots of rounds of trying things out. Mar 5 at 8:26
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    For us, the last point was also a game changer. We had several weeks when, according to our pediatrician, our kids where mentally able to want things that are further away from them and recognize the whole room but weren't able to get to anything. Those were also highly care intensive and then it just suddenly puffed away. Have encountered several more episodes like that, always prior to or accompanying major development steps Mar 7 at 7:04

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