Years of research have demonstrated that human babies have very positive responses to touch and holding, both physiologically and emotionally. A baby is unable to understand that she is a separate entity from her mother or primary caregiver, but her awareness of separateness will come as she matures. This appears to be a survival mechanism designed to keep baby and mother, or primary caregiver, close together. Thus, it is important that babies be held very frequently as a baby benefits from a mother or father’s warm touch, smell, and voice. It is very comforting for them to be held; therefore, they cry less.
We’d like to refer you to Ashley Montagu’s book Touching, The Human Significance of the Skin, Mariana Caplan’s book Untouched, and The Vital Touch by Sharon Heller. Our culture values independence so much that we begin distancing ourselves from our babies, consciously and unconsciously, from very early on, through the use of cribs, separate rooms, plastic infant carriers, bottle propping, and frequent separations.
We all love to snuggle our babies into us, and there really is no closer feeling you can get with your baby. But sometimes the number of cuddles your baby appears to need can make you feel that she’s permanently attached to you.
When is it right to pick your baby up and when should you leave her? Your baby needs gentle, warm, physical contact. Whenever she snuggles up against you, she thinks, “This is exactly what I want.” But does that mean you should hold her or cuddle her all the time?
The sense of love and security that comes from your reassuring cuddle helps build your baby’s healthy emotional development.
But your baby has other emotional needs too, including the need to become independent and to be able to manage life’s little ups and downs without you always by her side. So, it’s important to get the balance right.
We want parents to be conscious of this extremely important need for physical closeness by infants and older babies. Human touch and holding is really something we never grow out of. Adults have the same need for touch unless they have grown up unaccustomed to affectionate human touch. Some adults will resist touch, especially if touch was only given to cause pain. Touch and holding are important from birth. It helps parents connect early with their baby, enabling parents to be sensitive to their baby’s cues. Obviously, you can’t hold a baby 24 hours a day; just be aware that it’s very important to hold your baby when possible or have the father or other loving relatives hold your baby instead. Choose to rely less on baby gadgets, and opt to hold your baby in your arms or with a baby sling, wrap, or another carrier. As your baby grows, you will find she will be more independent, not less.
Check out our baby pram packages here.
Can you hold a baby too much?
No. No, you cannot hold a baby too much. A recent study conducted at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, centred on 125 premature and full-term infants and the how important TOUCH was to their brain development. And the study’s results show that touch is even more important than PREVIOUSLY assumed. So please, HOLD THAT BABY!
One thing to note: the research says special care needs to be specially taken to see those premature babies receive this gentle touch as soon as they are able; often the illnesses they fight and the wires and tubes that must be attached to babies in the NICU make this important gentle touch rarer than it should be. The researchers found that these teeny tiny preemies are less likely to respond to the gentle touch than their full-term peers, especially if they’ve been through painful medical procedures. But there’s good news on that front, too. The researchers also found that the MORE these sweet preemies were touched and held, the MORE they began to respond…proving it’s not too late for a gentle touch to make a difference even if it gets started later than desired.
The study’s lead researcher Dr. Nathalie Maitre told Science Daily, “Making sure that preterm babies receive positive, supportive touch such as skin-to-skin care by parents is essential to help their brains respond to gentle touch in ways similar to those of babies who experienced an entire pregnancy inside their mother’s womb.”
Dr. Maitre advocated for hospitals to strongly encourage and help facilitate skin-to-skin contact between newborns and parents and said that in a case where the parent could not provide this, it would be wise and beneficial for hospitals to “consider occupational and physical therapists to provide a carefully planned touch experience, [which is] sometimes missing from a hospital setting.”
So, mamas and daddies, the bottom line is: you can’t spoil that baby by holding him or her too much. So get on with your parental instincts and cuddle the daylights out of your little sweeties! Their beautiful baby brains will be ALL the better for it, and will the parent-child bond. And hey, if brother and sister are game, they can get skin to skin with your baby, too and get the sibling bonding started on a brain development level!
Know When to Hold and When to Stop Holding the Baby All the Time
If you’re the mom of an infant, don’t sweat holding your newborn all the time, at least not yet. Newborns require steady attention to give them the foundation to grow physically, emotionally and intellectually. Parents should help him (or her) get to know that his essential needs will be met. Holding your baby isn’t a matter of spoiling him, rather it’s a matter of dealing with the baby’s needs.
Studies show that a typical newborn cry about 3 hours a day in the first three months after his birth. It’s not because he is trying to entice you. Baby doesn’t learn until he’s about nine months after his birth that he can cry to get you to do something for him. So, he is crying because he’s hungry, need to change the diaper, or he feels uncomfortable. And that’s his only way of letting you know.
Holding newborn to sleep
By that, I mean holding them while they sleep. Some babies will only sleep while they are held. I would say that nothing is wrong with that if you are OK with it.
But, if you’re the mom that says I can’t even shower, and I’m dying. Then, put them down. Lay a blanket, put them in the crib, or use the bouncer (make sure it’s a safe space for an un-attended newborn), close to your shower and just pop your head out every few minutes and peek at them.
Even if they’re crying, they will be OK — because you are crying inside for a shower. You are a human, and you deserve that.
My Baby Nursery has a wide range of the best baby prams for you to choose from.
Holding Your Baby All the Time-Things You Must Know
A baby is born having heard his (or her) mom’s heartbeat, and he was securely swaddled in his mom’s womb for nine months. When he’s born, is it a bad thing to be held?
The attachment between your baby and yourself is a unique relationship. This bonding draws the two of you together, ensuring that his needs will be met and this new place is somehow reliable and trustworthy. This is a key factor in your baby’s physical, intellectual, social and emotional development.
The scientists have revealed that the most effective way for moms to calm a crying baby over a thirty-second period – simply holding the baby or carrying the newborn while walking. Scientists have observed an automatic transition in the baby’s behaviour when a mother holds her baby and starts to walk with him (or her) cradled close in her arms.
As a matter of fact, by paying attention to your baby’s cry or holding him up, you’re not only responding to his physical need. Studies show that if you hold him, your baby learns a sense of comfort, warmth, nurturing as well as security. These, in turn, will give him (or her) the confidence to learn rapidly.
Furthermore, a recent study has shown that holding your baby has numerous benefits when it times to brain development. So, the myth “holding your baby too much can cause developmental delays” isn’t true at all.
How to hold a baby with other children?
I LOVED babywearing, especially on my 3rd who just seemed to need me closer.
Because my babies were really active, I never felt safe with them in a sling (could easily have been user error). I also never got the hang of Moby wraps where I had to straps over all my body.
In the newborn phase, I used a Bjorn. You can often find these cheaper (because they aren’t comfortable as long) in kid’s second-hand stores.
And, once they were over two months, I switched to the Ergo. My daughter was in that thing a LOT til’ about age 2 (and beyond). I loved it, and I think they make a quality product (which is why so many carriers have copied them)
That’s just what worked best for me — but I’d ask around, and maybe try a few friend’s to see what you think will work for you.
Are You Holding Your Baby Too Much? Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Holding?
Neonatologists have revealed that holding a (preterm or full-term) newborn closely with parents as much as possible offers a lot of benefits. Holding an infant not only keep him warm but also the closeness helps regulate heart rate and breathing. It also enhances weight gain that results in a better growth rate.
The experts encourage more intercommunication and bonding between a baby and a parent. Experts also suggest that dad swill carry their newborns in a sling to imitate a closer bonding. In fact, the baby likes to be held, especially before he (or she) can walk on his own. He likes to look around, to see what his parent’s doing. He finds these completely fascinating and this is definitely good for his mental development. Furthermore, in this way, the baby is gaining good receptive and expressive skills.
What are the concerns with holding the baby too much?
I think it’s up to you. If you love it — then do it. If it’s driving you crazy, then put them down.
Clearly, as they get older, they need more room to move, grow and learn skills on their own, but in the newborn phase, they are just adjusting.
Where is the safest place for the baby if I’m not holding them.
Somewhere hard and firm without anything to choke on. Often that’s the crib, but other safe places include a swing, or bouncer, or even just a blanket on the ground (as long as it’s clear of anything else).
If you liked this post, please consider signing up for my practical parenting series (I also have a pregnancy series if you’re still growing our little human)
Should I always pick my baby up when she cries?
Your response should vary, depending on the circumstances.
Extreme measures for dealing with your baby rarely works – your baby will tend to develop best under moderation.
That’s why it’s better neither to hold your baby the moment she cries nor to ignore her crying altogether. Take a more reasonable approach and don’t set hard and fast rules about picking her up or leaving her.
It all comes down to getting to know your baby as an individual. You’ll soon learn what her different cries mean – whether she’s in discomfort, or just wants some attention.
Some people claim that a baby who is held by her parent every time she cries will soon think, “This is a good way to get a cuddle from mum,” And before you know it, she’ll cry all the time.
On the other hand, there are other people who argue that a crying baby is obviously distressed and needs to be held in order to help make her feel better. The root cause of her discomfort won’t go away, and it might even intensify if her cries are ignored.
It’s a question of balancing these two views to reach a more moderate approach.
Baby Prams are one of the most important baby products to get right. Check out our range here.
So, Actually When To Stop Holding The Baby All The Time?
Studies and experts show a lot of positive to hold the baby as much as possible. But it doesn’t mean that you’ll hold him all the time.
Your baby also needs some tummy time on the floor or blanket to develop his motor skills. But the more he feels about your availability (through holding him early on), the cozier he is on the floor or blanket later on.
Everything you must do on balance. It’s your role as a parent to ensure your baby a safe and trust-filled environment so that he (or she) can exercise his (or her) independence with lesser fear.
For the first three months of a newborn’s life, parents should throw out their intentions about any schedule. Parents must scope out their baby’s needs, temperament and personality. You should also pay attention to his (or her) emotional development.
When your baby will pass the 9th month and start to learn the art of persuasion, you can become more selective in responding to him, especially to his cry. After checking to make sure, he is in need of a new diaper, isn’t hungry or physically ill, hold him and sway from side to side as much as possible.
In fact, the babies who develop the sense of security from his parents in the first year will be self-confident, more independent and happier later.
When a baby cry, a brief period of holding him may help parents to find out the cause of his tears. If the underlying reason for crying is hunger or any physical illness, your baby may start crying again soon after the end of the holding. Your baby will be only benefited from all of the love and care you can muster.
Meeting your baby’s biological need for human contact isn’t about following a particular parenting philosophy. Keeping your baby in almost your constant contact for 9 to 12 months, won’t “spoil” him. So, don’t be confused about when to stop holding the baby all the time.