Parenting Q & A

Q. I have a six-month-old baby and am planning on attending a family reunion this summer. My son is starting to go through a phase where he only wants me to hold him. How can I protect him from my well-intentioned relatives wanting to pass him around? How can I get a break to enjoy the vacation too? 

A. Depending on your accommodations, one thing you’ll want to try to establish is a “relative-free zone.” This should be an actual physical space (a bedroom, a chair in the corner of a room or maybe just the back seat of the car!) This is where you can retreat whenever your son is feeling stressed. Hopefully, it will be comfortable enough for you to feed him, let him play and be a place where you two can take a break. It would be great if you could tell a few close family members your situation and have them run interference for you. That way you won’t always have to be the one to deny everyone access to your beautiful baby. 

You’ll also want to try to stick as close to a good sleep schedule as you can. If your baby is overtired he’ll be even more prone to crankiness, and that will not be any fun for you or anyone else. Although you may feel pressured to have your baby smile and respond like you know he usually does, try and relax and know that this phase will pass. It may not be a perfect visit this time but there will be others.

Ellen Barrett, a parent educator at Heights Parent Center for the last 12 years, fields questions from parents about the daily ups and downs of parenting. The same issues affect many parents. If you have questions for Ellen, e-mail her at 

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Volume 2, Issue 8, Posted 3:27 PM, 07.21.2009