A baby spends approximately 280 days in the womb (give or take) and is in constant connection with his mama. He depends solely on her for his nourishment and security. For his very life.
Suddenly, in an instant, (it might not feel like an instant to some of us! 🙂 ) he is out of the home he knew for so long and his whole world changes. What is the first thing that you want to do with your baby? HOLD him! It’s the natural response. Give me my baby! I want him close. And it’s totally acceptable for the first few days of life. (In society’s eyes)
And then, as your baby grows, you begin to wonder, “If I hold my baby too much, will I ruin him? Will he be spoiled? Will I create a bad sleeper?” (Why do we moms worry so much?! – Kids really are so resilient!)
Maybe you’ve also been the subject of unwanted parenting advice. Maybe others have told you that you can’t hold your baby so much or you WILL spoil him!
In my early years of parenting – when I thought I knew less and others knew more – I let (well-intending) people tell me how to parent.
Since I was a young, new mom, I thought that the unsolicited advice that was given was all correct and I parented accordingly. I followed a system, recommended by veteran moms in which I felt guilty holding and rocking my baby. “He won’t sleep if you don’t put him down. He needs to learn how to sleep on his own. You’re nursing him again?”
Confusion set in and I wondered why I couldn’t keep holding this baby who was attached to me not long ago. (And why did anyone care what I did with my baby, anyway??)
Thankfully, my wise husband stepped in and told me the best advice I could have ever received…”Just be a mommy! Hold him. Rock him. Snuggle him. He needs you and you need him. He won’t always be little and you will never get these years back.”
Fast forward sixteen years and seven babies later and I couldn’t be happier!
And my now, VERY well adjusted kiddos are always stopping me throughout the day for a hug and/or a snuggle. My six-year-old’s favorite pastime is to snuggle with mommy!
I am thankful that I learned that holding a baby won’t spoil him. In fact, quite the opposite occurs. You will develop a bond between you and your baby that spans a lifetime.
Maybe you’re worried you’ll spoil your baby or you’ll create a bad sleeper. I’m here to tell you that eventually, your baby WILL let you put him down. And in the not too distant future, there will be a day when it will be hard to stop him so you can snuggle!
There are good reasons your baby wants to be held and if you know them, it can help set your mind at ease.
The Fourth Trimester
The Fourth Trimester is a relatively new concept. In fact, I hadn’t heard of it until I had my seventh baby, 8 months ago. (If you haven’t looked into it, I’d encourage you to research further. It helped me understand so much about my baby and me.)
The Fourth Trimester encompasses the first three months of the baby’s life.
Think about all of the changes that are happening to your baby now, once outside the womb.
It may help you to understand a bit more why your baby may need a little extra reassurance and comfort. Holding your baby might make you feel more compassionate and less frustrated.
For almost a year he sat nestled comfortably inside of you with not a care in the world. Then suddenly he goes from inside of you to a cold, noisy world. Now, he has to wear clothes, which is an entirely new experience. He also needs to learn how to eat since he has relied on you for all of his nourishment.
These changes can bring about uncertainty. Babies need comfort during this time. Holding them close and snuggling them tight, is one of the best ways to help them feel secure, and in turn, will help them adapt to their new surroundings more quickly
Babies Have Immature Neurological Systems
When a baby is born, his neurological system is not completely mature.
Therefore, babies can’t control many of their movements. Have you ever seen a baby get startled and his arms go out wide? He doesn’t have any control over that. Various movements (which he can’t control) can cause him to be uncomfortable. Holding your baby will help him feel more safe and secure.
Remember, he just spent so much time being all squished up inside and he will crave feeling close and being held. It will remind him of the womb.
(An added tip is to hold him over your heart if he’s fussy, to help soothe him. It reminds him of his former home!)
Holding Your Baby Develops Trust
Your baby will begin to trust you when you hold him.
You are meeting needs that he cannot express and that creates trust. A baby is so tiny and cannot speak for himself, so when you hold your baby and keep him close you are teaching him that you are a safe place. This trust will continue on through the rest of his life.
The bond that you form starts now.
Holding your baby creates a wordless trust that develops over time spent in close proximity to him.
Babies Can’t Remember Rules
Babies really don’t have rules.
That is evident by the fact that they want what they want when they want it. They eat and sleep at times that are not usual for the rest of us. And they don’t eat and sleep at times that are usual for the rest of us :-).
Try not to get frustrated if your baby needs to be held constantly. He doesn’t know the rules. He isn’t concerned with whether or not supper is getting cooked or you have other things to do.
He just knows that he wants….to be held. Period. That’s the ONLY RULE he knows how to follow!
Touch is Critical to Development
If you’ve had a baby lately, you know that skin-to-skin contact has been stressed.
Researchers are beginning to find that touch is critical to development.
Through physical touch and holding, your child learn basic life skills. Brain development is even enhanced through contact. (Just by holding your baby, you could make him smarter!)
Holding your baby can also reduce stress in both you and your baby.
Think about it. What happens when you pick up a crying baby? Usually he quits crying. And you become less stressed.
While you don’t have to walk around doing skin to skin, contact, (although if you want to, the Moby Wrap is a great way to do it.)
Simply holding your baby will help soothe him and without even realizing it you will be helping with his brain development.
Research Shows You Can’t Spoil Them
If you need something a little more authoritative to assure you that you can’t spoil your baby by holding him, then there is plenty of Scientific proof.
Yes, that’s right! Science has actually proven that you cannot spoil your baby by holding him. And hopefully you have seen that the exact opposite Is true. Holding your baby has proven to have many many benefits. More than I think we even understand.
Go Ahead and Do It!
So if you are afraid that holding your baby might spoil him, or if you are hearing from other naysayers that you are spoiling your baby, hopefully now you can rest assure that you are actually doing the best thing for your baby. Actually you are doing more good, than not, by holding your baby. You will not spoil him so don’t worry! I promise!
Have you ever worried that holding your baby might spoil him? Have you seen the benefits of holding your baby first-hand?
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