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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 pick him up again. Now, your baby does deserve some love and care, but when your arms and shoulders hurt, it becomes a concern.
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, the babies who want to be held continuously can become a problem for several parents.
In this article, we shall discuss if this behaviour is normal and what you could do about it. Read on to know more.
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 desire 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 of their mother’s body because that’s what they have experienced in the mother’s womb. Some experts refer to this singularity as the fourth-trimester effect. Parents need to continue holding 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 the Womb to the 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 mothers 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
When your baby is around 9 months of age, he 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, he may feel anxious when he is not held.
3. The Feeling of Warmth
A newborn baby’s desire to keep warm can be another reason for always wanting to be held by his parents. Moreover, he may still experience the Moro reflex, which makes his legs and arms flap when not held. It is natural for babies to prefer the warmth and safety of their caregiver’s arms. 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. To give babies the required warmth, it is recommended that they are swaddled.
Since crying is the only way babies can communicate with you, your baby, if he likes to be held all the time, would naturally cry often to grab your attention. But, there are tricks you can try to settle him. Here’s what you can do.
What Can You Do to Settle Your Baby?
When your baby wants to be held, you may find yourself wondering what to do and what not to do. These few ideas could make your life easy.
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 help him adjust to the outside world. In case he starts crying when you put him down, stroke him gently and speak in a soothing voice 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 soothing music or sing soft lullabies to 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 his habit of showing displeasure when he is not held. Set the baby in the chair a few minutes every day till he gets used to it. Stay close and do pick him up when he seems uncomfortable and starts crying. You can do this exercise a few times every day particularly when your baby is happy and well-rested. You may increase the duration gradually.
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 required. Your baby may eventually get used to being set down by everyone around him.
6. Be Persistent and Patient
You must remain calm and patient while trying to teach your baby to stay relaxed when not held. You may find it frustrating, but be persistent. Habits take time to break, and eventually, your baby will learn to be comfortable by himself.
7. Be Flexible
It is desirable to keep your expectations as realistic as possible. Some days you may make good progress while other days may 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 usually 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 designed to act as a sling around a baby’s body which keeps him safely positioned on his back.
Usually, one or all of these tricks work when it comes to babies who want to be held all the time. But, some babies cannot do without being held at all. Let’s take a look at what can be done in that case.
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. One of the things you can try is cuddling with your baby on the bed until he falls asleep. This way, your baby may not get the chance to protest on not being held. Also, you can opt for a partial sort of physical contact instead of a complete one which could make it easier for your baby to adapt.
If your baby wants to be held in spite of making several attempts at the ideas provided above, you may continue holding him for some more time. Bear in mind, however, that you will have several questions thrown at you, for example, are you spoiling your baby, or will you make him dependent? The rest of the article should help you tackle them.
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.
Let’s also look at the positive side of holding your baby when he cries for it.
Advantages of Holding Your Baby
Many a time, as a baby grows, he starts exploring his surroundings all by himself, and you will not need to hold him often. But, while he hasn’t reached that age yet, these advantages should help you keep going.
- Your bond with your baby strengthens.
- Soothes your baby and calms him down.
- Regulates his breathing and heart rate.
- Aids his growth and development.
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 get some time to rest.
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