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Is it a mistake to hold your baby a lot?

Some people believe that holding your baby too much can make them clingy and spoilt in later life. They say that babies should be left in moses baskets, pushchairs and bouncers so they get used to being on their own. However, it now seems they could have been wrong.

Research has actually found that holding a baby all the time in the first year of their life can actually help them become less clingy in the future and more independent. This is because their need for touch and human contact has been well met, so they grow up to be secure and confident children. They also cry much less and are much more sociable than babies who are left alone or not carried as much. It is also extremely important for the mother so she can develop a bond with her baby, and it has been shown that carrying your baby everywhere can reduce the risk of post-natal depression among new mums.

Many babies cry if they are put down, are put in a pushchair or a baby bouncer away from their mother. This is not because they are spoilt or demanding but is simply a natural urge to be touching their mother and feel safe.

In some countries it is expected that the mother will carry her baby around close to her for baby’s first year, without the baby touching the floor at any point. This is normally because of safety and hygiene issues in third-world countries, but research shows these countries have less violence than countries where babies are put down. Could there be a link?

Many experts in Western countries now say that you should give your baby as much close contact and holding as they require. If they cry when you put them down then pick them up again. However, if your baby seems happy, there is no harm done by leaving them there for a few minutes.

The must-have baby sling

Wearing a baby sling is one of the best ways to give your child that constant contact as they are positioned safely across your chest – the most natural position for them to be in. However, this position still allows you to get on with any chores and errands you need to do. Slings were a method used primarily for third-world mothers until companies got wind of the positives of them in the ’90s and the more sophisticated, western sling was introduced.

Calming techniques

If you are finding that your baby won’t settle and holding them all the time is a bit overwhelming, there are several techniques that have been shown to calm babies. Playing music and talking in a low controlled voice is said to soothe babies, as is placing them next to a washing machine or dishwasher when it’s running because of the vibrations of the machine.

In the end, your feelings will largely dictate how much you hold your baby, but in the first year of their life no amount of holding is now deemed too much holding.

More on bringing up a baby

Why meeting your baby’s needs is important
10 Simple baby care tips your mother never told you
Good sleep habits for new baby

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