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As a parent, you obviously feel happy and delighted to hold your baby in your arms. But the moment you put him down, he starts crying and then you have to take him in your arms again and he stops crying as you hold him close in your arms. Your shoulders and arms hurt from of course, but what can you do?
A baby crying when not held is certainly not an unfamiliar phenomenon for most parents. Neither is it an unusual occurrence. There can be many reasons for it. Some babies tend to be fussy when they are sleepy, hungry, or breastfeeding. But high-need babies with an inclination to be continuously held can create many problems for parents.
Is it Normal That Your Baby Cries When Not Held?
If your baby cries the moment you put him down, then you are not the only one experiencing this. You must have tried rocking your baby endlessly, carrying him in a stroller all day long but with no respite. For most newborn babies, the wish to be held in arms is quite normal. Babies usually require a considerable amount of physical connection particularly during the initial days after birth. They seek the soothing contact with their mother’s body as they experienced while in the womb. Some experts refer to this singularity as the fourth-trimester effect. It is important for parents to continue to hold their baby for the maximum time anyway even if it seems tiresome and challenging.
Why Do Babies Want to Be Held Always?
Some of the reasons as to why babies always want to be held are as follows:
1. The Transition from Womb to World
For some babies, the transition from the womb to the outside world can be quite overwhelming. They may not be ready to face the unfamiliar, bright world yet. They may still prefer the secure, dark and cosy womb of their mother where they spent their greatest time curled up sleeping. Post-delivery the change of environment can be unsettling. Hence, a baby may find it upsetting to adjust to new sounds, new faces, or the new position of sleeping on his back.
2. Separation Anxiety
During the first few months, a baby may start to realise that he is a separate being from his mother. This awareness may trigger separation anxiety in him which is worsened by the fact that he may be unable to recall the past. Therefore, it is possible that a baby may feel anxious when he is put down.
3. The Feeling of Warmth
A newborn baby’s desire to keep warm can be another reason for always wanting to be held in his mother’s arms. Moreover, they still possess the Moro reflex which makes their legs and arms flap when not held. It is natural for them to prefer the warmth and safety of their caregiver’s arms then being set down. It is no wonder that babies have a tough time sleeping straight on their back without the warmth of their mother’s arms around them.
What Can You Do to Settle Your Baby?
A few things that you may do to help settle your baby can be:
1. Wrap Your Baby
It is essential that newborn babies feel adequately warm and cosy after birth. Therefore, wrapping a baby in optimal layers of loose clothing can prove useful in providing him with the required warmth and giving him the feeling of being nestled in a secure cocoon.
2. Comfort Him
Try and make your baby’s surrounding environment comfortable to ease his adjustment to the outside world. In case he starts crying when you put him down stroke him gently and speak quietly to calm him down. You can also try hanging interesting objects from his crib to engage his attention while he is awake.
3. Play Soothing Music
Music can have a calming effect on babies. Put on some peaceful music or sing soft lullabies which may help relax your baby.
4. Break Off the Habit
You can try setting your baby down either on a bouncy chair or an activity mat to break down his habit of showing displeasure when not held. You can begin initially with a couple of minutes. Stay close and do pick him up when he displays crying signs. You can do this exercise a few times every day particularly when your baby is happy and well rested. Gradually you may increase the duration of time for which you put him down.
5. Involve Family Members
Try and involve other members of the family also to practise setting the baby down and not holding him more than necessary. Your baby may eventually get used to being set down by everyone around him.
6. Be Persistent and Patient
It is imperative that you maintain your calm and remain patient while trying to teach your baby to stay relaxed when not held. You may find it frustrating but continue to persist. Habits take time to break. Your baby will learn to get comfortable by himself with time.
7. Be Flexible
It is desirable to keep your expectations as realistic as possible. Some days you may make good progress while other days can seem bad. Go with your baby’s pace and refrain from hurrying him unnecessarily. You need to understand that it is simply a phase and babies commonly grow out of it in due course of time.
8. Use Soft Snuggly Cushions
You can browse online for snuggly cushions for babies especially designed to mimic the warmth and comfort that they were used to while in the womb. The cushion is fashioned to act as a sling around a baby’s body which keeps him safely positioned on his back.
What If Your Infant Still Wants to Be Held?
There are a couple of transitional measures that you can consider if your baby still wants to be held despite your best efforts to put him down. You can try cuddling with your baby on the bed until he falls asleep. This way your baby may not get the chance to protest on being put down. Also, you can opt for a compromise sort of contact instead of a full bodily one which may facilitate easier adaption of your baby from your arms to being set down.
Will You Spoil Your Baby By Holding Him Too Much?
Some babies sleep when held. But still, there is no such thing as spoiling your baby by holding him too much. Instead, you need to establish and address the underlying issue. Is your baby undergoing separation nervousness or is he just seeking some comfort? You may want to remember that your baby is very young, and this is simply a transitional phase which won’t last forever. In case your baby doesn’t seem to calm down when not held, the best thing would be to pick him up to make him feel emotionally secure and content.
It may feel a little tiring right now to hold your baby all the time but remember he will soon outgrow your arms. So, you may enjoy cuddling and holding him while it lasts. You can always ask your partner or other family members to help so that you have time to rest.