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Soothing a Clingy Baby

If you’re having trouble soothing your child — or can’t figure out why your son is so much clingier than your daughter — one parenting expert thinks she has the answer: dominant senses.

Priscilla J. Dunstan, who made a name for herself in many parenting circles by “interpreting” babies’ cries, says in a new book that each child has a sense that dominates all the others.

The LA Times summarizes Dunstan’s theory like this:

By paying careful attention to what soothes your baby, or thinking back to what techniques worked best when your child was a baby, you should be able to identify your child’s dominant sense, which will, in turn, identify their primary communication method.

She divides babies in three categories: tactile, auditory, visual and taste/smell. Tactile ones tend to be “clingy” and want to be held to go to sleep; auditory are soothed by your voice; visual don’t need to be next to you but need you in their sight. Taste/smell babies seem to be a lot like tactile babies and really want to be close.

Dunstan tells parents that figuring out what kind of baby you have will help you figure out how best to soothe him or her (and, Golden Ticket of parenting, get baby to sleep).

Her theory is interesting — not exactly backed up by science and studies — but possibly worth a shot if you’re struggling with how to soothe your child. Especially helpful could be having a so-called expert in your corner if your child is clingy, something a lot of (unhelpful) people make parents feel bad about. My oldest only wanted me to hold her, not her grandparents, not even her father much of the time. Not-so-helpful people encouraged me to push her in other people’s arms to “get her used to it,” or set her down and walk out of the room. You know, they made sure I felt like the clingy one, that my daughter and I were too enmeshed.

I should have just said “she has a dominant sense of touch.” Mainly, I just ignored them.

Do you think Dunstan’s on to something, or just selling a few books?

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Photo: 4everyfamily.com

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