My son is now experiencing his attachment issues. I can put him down and he cries, pick him up, he is fine.
He is actually pretty independent but lately it seems that he just wants to be held all the time.
I can't and will not hold him 24/7, so how long do I let him be frustrated before picking him up?
A 6 month old baby can't be spoiled by holding him too much or by picking him up when he cries. However, I know that there are times when mum needs to be hands free so she can get things done.
You mentioned that your son is pretty independent but more recently is wanting to be held a lot. There are a couple of things that come to mind. If he is teething, he could be less tolerant and just want to be soothed more. If there has been any change in his routine, this, too, could create insecurity that would make him want to be held more. If you have been away from him more, or daddy has, or if someone new has come into the home, these are things that can create stress on a baby and make him more clingy.
Also, if you have been breastfeeding him, and those feedings are a little less often now due to feeding solids, this could also be a reason why he wants to be held more. After all, when we breastfeed our babies, they are held and enjoy that closeness.
I would find ways to keep him happy and without letting him cry. At 6 months of age, I used to put my children in a lightweight backpack while I was doing dishes, making dinner, vacuuming, folding laundry, or doing things around the home. This gave me my hands free, and let baby be up high so he could see what was going on. Plus he was close. Often my babies went to sleep in the backpack.
Using a front pack can also give you your hands free. Our violin teacher would put her baby in the front pack and teach violin lessons. There were times when I would put baby in the front pack while going through the grocery store.
You can also use the swing to help baby settle without having to be held. My battery powered swing was a lifesaver with my second child. And you might try putting bub in a baby walker or exersaucer where he can be upright and play with toys. He won't be able to move around it it, but he can sit and play.
Please feel free to give more details if you need more ideas. Your son is too young right now to recognize that your refusal to pick him up when he cries is because you want him to settle himself. I didn't start working on having my children settle themselves until they were older.
I recommend babywearing to help settle your baby and make your son feel more confident and safe. This is where you wear you baby in a sling for a significant amount of time each day. You will then have your hands free to enable you to get on with some of the other jobs you need to do.
A good sling worn properly has been found to be at least as safe as carrying a baby in your arms - in most cases it is a lot safer.
I understand from Kate's helpful post above that your son is about 6 months old. A sling like a Mei Tai, baby Tula or woven wrap would be excellent for what you describe. You may find that there is a babywearing support group near you where you can meet other parents who babywear. You may be able to try or hire slings from such a support group or alternatively see if there is a 'sling library' in your area.
Babywearing has been shown to help create a strong, healthy attachment between parent and child. This leads to a baby who is happier and more settled.