Nothing compares to the feeling we get when we cuddle babies or small children. However, apart from giving us a lot of pleasure, holding your baby offers children some real benefits.
Five facts about holding a child
While holding young children has many benefits, there are drawbacks too. In general, holding a child:
- Helps their emotional development as it gives them a sense of security
- Regulates their heart rate and breathing
- Strengthens the bond between mother and child, leading to a more secure attachment style
- Can be very tiring for the parents, which is why it’s important to share the responsibilities among caregivers
- Once a child shows an urge to be more independent, holding them too much can mean they miss out on training important gross motor skills, such as crawling, sitting, or walking
Why some babies always want to be held
There are times when children would constantly want to be held, which can be very exhausting for new parents, especially if you have important things to attend to. Here are some of the reasons babies want to be held:
- The transition into the new world: The period of transitioning from the womb to the outside world can be overwhelming for babies. After spending nine months in their mother’s womb, it is natural for newborns to seek the familiar rhythm and warmth of their moms. Due to the dramatically reduced contact with the mother, one can understand why many babies seek close contact so much.
- Separation anxiety: As babies reach nine months old, they often realize that they are separate from the mother. When they are not being held, they may develop separation anxiety.
- The feeling of warmth: Because of the need for warmth, newborn babies usually want to be constantly held. This is one of the reasons why swaddling always works for babies.
How to help baby transition
You need to help your baby transition properly. There are ways you can do that, and these are a few ideas that can help:
- Swaddle your baby: Swaddling is a technique that involves wrapping the baby tightly in a blanket or lighter material. This provides a feeling of warmth, which babies often need.
- Comfort them: Some parents feel that giving their babies too much attention would make them dependent. Science doesn’t support that. In fact, comforting, stroking their heads, or talking to them in a soothing voice, leads to a more secure attachment and, consequently, greater independence later in life.
- Use soft snuggly cushions: Get cushions designed to make babies feel like having the warmth and comfort of the womb.
- Involve others: By allowing family and friends to settle your baby to sleep, you can lessen your baby’s dependence on yourself. As the saying goes: “it takes a village to raise a child”
- Play soothing music: Music or white noise can help soothe and relax babies. After all, inside the belly, it was hardly quiet — the sounds of a mother’s organs that a developing child hears throughout the pregnancy get as loud as 70 decibels.
Stimulate them through movements: Lying next to babies and gently tapping their backs, rocking them in the baby swing, or driving with them around the block inside their baby seat are all ways to emulate movement that they were used to when they’re inside the womb — just as it wasn’t quite, it wasn’t completely still either.
Ketsupa Jirakarn (Mental health specialist) (31 March 2021)