What is the psychology of this babys behavior?

Dick and Jane are married and have a baby girl, under 1 years old, crawling, starting to stand up, and so on.

Sometimes they have neighbors Jack and Jill babysit.

When Jill is in a room alone with baby, baby is happy, playing, crawling, etc… Baby likes to be held by Jill too.

When Jack is in a room alone with baby, baby is happy, playing, crawling, etc… Baby likes to be held by jack, too.

But if both Jack and Jill are in the room, baby has a conniption. Crawls over to Jill, tries to climb up her leg, demands Jill holds her, screams & cries if Jack comes anywhere near her or Jill.

Baby obviously has no problem with either Jack or Jill individually, but has a big problem with Jack being anywhere near Jill.

I’m thinking this is a carry over from her parents, though I’ve never seen baby with both parents together.

Is this a protective behavior? Is it because Jane is breastfeeding baby? Is Dick abusive towards Jane and baby knows?

So what’s going on here?

I don’t know what the technical terminology is, but it falls under pretty normal baby behavior starting around 6-9 months. Based on explanations received from already-verbal toddlers who exhibit similar behaviors, laypeople call it jealousy. Jack by himself is OK. Jill by herself is OK. New person Joe by himself is OK after a few seconds of “hrm… is this person ok?”. But ah, as soon as they pay attention to each other (which they will, if they are in the same room), here comes the wailing! A woman will, if available, be the preferred person (women of fertile age are preferred over those not); if none such is, or if more than one is, then whomever the baby is most familiar with will be the preferred person.

And no, there’s no narcissistic component, because at that age we can’t speak of narcissism: it’s still solipsism. Kids generally realize the world exists with-out them at about 2, 2-1/2 yo.

Kids be weird??

My second kid (now 34 and normal) went through a stage where if anyone apart from me and his daddy even looked at him he went into hysterics (and I mean that literally). Folks would not dare say ‘Hello’ for fear of upsetting the little scroat. Even extended family and VERY close friends, from around 9 months until whenever he grew out of it, it was a friggin’ painful time for all concerned.

Don’t sweat it, the bub will get past this and you’ll wonder why you were concerned in the first place. :slight_smile:

My middle daughter was like this. It got to a point where no one but me could hold her. If anyone talked to her she grabbed the back of my hair and planted her face in my neck. And jeez!, she was a screamer. She grew out of it by age 3.
But, yeah, babies be weird!

I’ve seen this behavior in kids with their mother or some other adult they have long time contact with, such as Grandma or a daily day care provider.

But the OP example is of a couple that sits with the kid maybe once every two weeks, if that.

Maybe a prior bad experience involving a pail of water?


Many babies would laugh their heads off at Jack and Jill tumbling down a hill.

To the OP: Seems like fairly normal baby behavior.

Object permanence might be in play. When Jack is the only adult around, that’s fine - attention from Jack is great, and since Jill can’t be seen, it’s just like she doesn’t exist. But when the preferred adult, Jill, is in the room, baby isn’t going to put up with being cared for by Mr. Second String.

My sister cared for her step-daughter’s girl when she was small and the girl did not like my BIL. (Wise girl, I can’t stand him either.)

However, if he was the only one around, after my sister and their two high school kids, then she was OK with him.

Just from the info here, it’s hard to tell if this is just “kids are different,” but I certainly can’t see how to jump to “is there abuse” without a lot more info.

I got to spend a lot of time with my kids when they were babies, maybe even more than their Mother and they were super attached to me, I just bonded really closely with them.

When my son was a baby he would kick and scream if his Mom tried to take him out of the crib, he only wanted me, Mom would break into tears over it. His sister was similar but not as severe, she only wanted me to hold her, and as a baby would try to jump out of her Mom’s hands into mine.

My son is now more of a Momma’s boy but my daughter stil favors me I think.

My very-soon-to-be-nine-month-old is just like this when mom and I are together. She’s quite happy to play with me alone, as long as mom is completely out of the picture. As soon as she knows that mom is around, though, she whines and cries until mommy can hold her. If she’s on the floor and not restrained, she’ll crawl towards mom.

Welcome to the world of being Not Mom. When Squeaky was little, he noticed his big brothers competing for their Mom’s attention, and realized if he hung out with Not Mom, he got all the attention to himself. And finally, one of my children hung out with me… at least until Mom was free, then I would be demoted to Not Mom again.

Bother thing I remembered which may be more relevant to the OP.

When Beta-Chan was about a year old, we would sometimes hang out at a community center where they had play space for small kids.

Sometimes other children would come to me and Beta-Chan would go crazy. “He’s MY daddy!” sort of thing.

Jokingly, another mother grabbed my arm and came close to me and Beta threw a royal fit. She was not going to lose me to that usurper!

At various ages, one or both of my kids haven’t been happy with too much physical affection between my wife and I, getting jealous.

Without actually being there, it doesn’t sound that unusual of behavior.

Except, once again like others in this thread, you are talking about a child/parent relationship where the couple in the OP are basically strangers to the kid save but twice a month.