“If you don’t put that baby down you’ll make a rod for your own back…”
Hands up, who’s been told this before?! I know I had people tell me this when my children were little. But you know what? I have never thought “I wish I hadn’t cuddled them as much”. I have never regretted meeting their needs and giving them affection when they’ve wanted it.
Wanting to be cuddled and held is a biological need. Your baby can’t conciously decide to cry for you, and they certainly can’t manipulate you. If you pick your baby up and cuddle them when they cry you’re not making problems for yourself – you are letting your baby know that yes, you’ve heard them, and you’re there for them. You are creating a secure attachment that makes them more confident when they are older.
When a baby is first born the world is new to them. Your arms are their safe place. They like the containment, the warmth, the movement, the rise and fall of your chest, the sound of your heartbeat. In the fourth trimester (the first 12 weeks after birth) babies need help adjusting to the world, and replicating the things they’ve been used to in-utero can help them. It can prevent them getting overwhelmed, and can calm and soothe them when they are upset.
In fact, they may not want putting down at all in the early days, and that’s when having friends, family, or a postnatal doula to support you is really important. Someone who can hold your baby while you have a shower, or take a nap. But equally, people who will do the jobs around the house so that you can do the important job of nurturing your baby.
NEVER feel guilty for cuddling your baby – they grow up way too fast, and baby cuddles are the best
Written by Sarah Lewis – antenatal teacher and postnatal doula in Portsmouth.