Newborn babies spend most of their day sleeping, and it’s important that they sleep in the proper sleeping position to allow for normal development. While awake, infants thrive on human contact, and holding your little one as much as possible, especially in the first three months, promotes good mental development and emotional stability.
It’s a natural response to reach for your little one and pick them up whenever you get the inclination that a cry session may erupt. Not to worry, this is normal and perfectly natural; in fact, most of the time, it’s what your little one wants.
Newborns are strangers in a very big world, and they have to learn about trust and security, which dominate their early months.
They need to begin with building relationships on their own “needs-based” terms until they are able to release some of the power to mom or a trusted caregiver.
There are many myths about how to treat babies to give them the necessary foundation to cope in our ever-changing society.
The biggest myth is that too much contact spoils the child. This is possibly one of the cruelest myths concerning baby care.
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Your baby might have enjoyed listening to music and hearing your voice in the womb, but newborn babies are born without words or any type of language skills besides their cry.
While in the womb, babies can hear and feel music and voices as muffled sounds and soothing vibrations.
Hearing mom’s voice in the real world is immediately comforting to most babies. This, coupled with breastfeeding and memorizing moms’ smell, creates the worldly beginning of a lifelong bond between mother and child.
Babies express their needs through their cries. Each need will typically have a different sounding cry.
There will be a cry of discomfort from a soiled or wet diaper, a hunger cry, a cry to indicate illness, or a cry in response to feeling insecure. There are many different types of cries, and mothers are able to learn what each one means.
Crying is your baby’s first form of communication. Even if the sound might be stressful, your little one’s communication ability should be appreciated and celebrated.
Most of a baby’s day is spent sleeping, sometimes for a few hours at a time and sometimes for shorter periods.
During a growth spurt, your baby will wake up more often for feeding, and if their need is not immediately met, you will get an ear-blasting to get you back on track.
During your baby’s awake times, you should meet every one of their needs.
From diaper changes to feeding, bathing, changing their outfit, skin-to-skin time or cuddling, pampering, and interacting in every possible way with your little one.
By doing this, you cater to your baby’s needs and, in the process, you nurture their mental and emotional needs too.
Your baby will inevitably cry for about three hours a day in their first three months, but more if they have a condition like colic or some underlying medical condition.
Rest assured, newborn babies are not aware of the fine art of manipulation, not yet anyway.
Newborns have a lot on their plate, and their first year is a roller coaster ride of learning everything from scratch.
Okay, not everything, they can breathe, drink, cry, and perform other necessary bodily functions, but that’s about all.
Only at about 9-months old will babies realize that they can use their cry to get what they want.
I’m sure many moms are familiar with that fake cry that draws attention to that little stubby finger pointing to the cupboard where all the sweets and cookies are kept – fond memories?
A spoiled child is the making of a manipulative child, and steps must be taken to teach and create boundaries for your little one. Manipulation is something that all children learn, but not all use this art for continued selfish gain.
The way babies are taken care of from birth will influence how they relate to life as they grow older.
How much contact is enough?
Contact with your newborn baby is as important as the air you breathe. You cannot pick your baby up too much or spoil your little one by doing so. Human contact allows a baby to get its bearing on life.
Frequent contact helps regulate hormones that play a vital part in an infant’s self-awareness and, eventually, the conviction of self-reliance. It breeds a sense of security and promotes normal development.
Your baby’s physical, emotional, and mental development depends greatly on unlimited contact with mom and regular caregivers. Cognitive development and building a balanced response to others becomes a focal point of early development.
Studies have found that a mother’s chest will be a few degrees warmer after childbirth to ensure her baby gets the required warmth in the new environment.
The study also showed that a mother is able to facilitate a normal environment for her baby by thermoregulating her own body temperature. If the baby is too hot, the mother’s temperature drops and vice versa.
Skin-to-skin time is known to be beneficial for a baby’s development as it calms them down and promotes better sleep.
Being close to a mother’s familiar heartbeat does wonders for newborns, but it also benefits mothers as it helps to reduce stress levels and reduces symptoms of depression.
Direct physical contact is extremely important in a baby’s first three months of life. If you can hold your baby for the duration of their awake time during this period, you will be doing more good than harm.
Alternatives to holding your baby
The objective is not to stop your baby from crying but to attend to their needs in the most natural way possible.
After you have checked hunger, diaper, and other causes of crying, holding and paying attention to your baby should comfort your little one unless they feel ill.
Sadly, there is no substitute for holding your baby in your arms. As human beings, we are sociable beings by design, and we thrive on contact with others. Frequent close bonding with your baby is also necessary for normal development.
Only at about 9 months old will you be able to determine whether your little one is beginning to manipulate you or not. Until that time, no amount of fuss over your little one is too much; the more, the better.
Taking long drives in the car or using a vibrating baby chair to calm your little one down may work now and then but shouldn’t become a common practice.
There are risks associated with putting a very young baby in a sitting position when they do not have the strength to hold themselves in the position and keep their airway clear. It’s especially dangerous if your little one is left unattended.
The same applies to propping pillows in the sides of a walking ring to keep your baby upright. If they are not ready for the challenge, don’t rush it.
Leaving your baby in the crib to cry it out is the worst thing any parent or caregiver can do. The only word to describe this “tough love” stance is neglect! If you feel you can’t cope, instead ask for help.
Can I let my baby sleep in my arms?
You can most definitely let your baby fall asleep in your arms but lay your baby down as soon as you feel that they are in a deep sleep and will wake up from the movement to the bassinet or crib.
My 1-month-old will only fall asleep in my arms; is this normal?
It is normal, and in most cases, it’s just an adjustment phase that will pass. Try and involve your partner more and allow your baby to take to the change in their own time. Babies learn at different rates, and many babies become attached to mom as their primary source of comfort and security.
When does a baby grow out of wanting to be held all the time?
For some babies, it can be as early as 4 months old. As soon as babies can sit on their own and wiggle around to get to things, they will become less dependant on mom to be picked up.
However, there is no set time frame, and it’s not something that you wean your child off. Always remember the benefits of picking your little one up.
Babies need and depend on human contact. The more secure a baby feels in their immediate environment, the more eager and willing they are to explore beyond their safe space.
If babies do not want to be picked up, they will cry louder or push away from you. Sometimes babies just want to listen to your voice or watch you as you entertain them or go about your work in the home.
Little ones learn from their interactions with others, and by observing the happenings around them, besides, they have a great vantage point from your embracing arms, and the feel of your heartbeat is a constant reassuring rhythm that comforts them.
Infants up to three months old need as much time in their mother’s arms as possible. It helps with their overall development, and as time goes on, they will return the love in abundance.