We all love to snuggle our babies into us, there really is no closer feeling you can get with your baby. But sometimes the amount 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.
If you hold your baby all the time, she’ll:
- Stay dependent on you for longer than necessary.
- Expect you to be with her every minute of the day.
- Become distressed the minute you’re out of her sight.
- Be unable to learn how to cope on her own.
If you only hold your baby very rarely, she’ll:
- Probably start to feel quite sad and even lonely.
- Perhaps begin to think, “Mum doesn’t love me.”
- Be uncomfortable in your arms when you do hold her.
- Lose interest in what’s going on around her.
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.
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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.
Is my baby crying in the night just for the attention?
There may be times when she cries in the night simply for the sake of it. If you hold her and give her a drink then you may find she starts to wake up every night. Who can blame her?
If you think this is why your baby cries at night, try this:
- Instead of holding her when she cries, go into her room, stand by her cot and talk to her reassuringly, but don’t touch her.
- The next night if she cries, do the same, but stand by her cot without saying anything.
- If she cries again the next night, stand in her room silently, not right by her.
- By gradually reducing contact, your baby’s night crying should eventually stop altogether.
“He just wants me by his side all the time”
"Jason has always needed cuddles, in fact, if I held him all day everyday, he would never cry at all. I was finding it very difficult to manage as I have twin girls too, and my entire day seemed to be taken up with Jason. I now have to leave him crying quite a bit, especially early evening when I am trying to prepare a meal. It still breaks my heart but I know there’s nothing wrong with him.”
Mandy, 36, mum to Natalie and Natasha, 3, and Jason, 1
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