Unfortunately, there is still a lot of information about caring for infants that is not only incorrect but can actually be harmful. The most popular and worst are myths regarding the harmful effects of holding a baby too much. With the use of slings and baby carriers being so common in many other cultures, why this kind of closeness and care is still not totally embraced in our society is not completely clear to me.
The fact is infants need touch to thrive. Close physical contact and being held is an important part of infant growth and development. A baby that is picked up, soothed when crying and held often grows to be more confident. Holding and carrying your baby is a large part of creating a bond with mom and dad and it feels incredible for both you and baby!
Infants do not manipulate. You cannot spoil a baby by holding him or her too much. Newborn babies are basically living, responding and reacting based on instinct and need. Since babies are not able to communicate with words the way we do, they have to rely on making sounds and the most natural physical reaction they have, crying. This is how they let us know when they’re hungry, wet, tired, hurt or need to be held.
Every single human being on the planet is born and lives with the basic, essential need to love and be loved. As adults, when we are hurt, afraid, upset after a rough day, sick or just plain lonely, it’s normal for us to reach out to another human being for comfort and care. Usually, this is someone we are very close to and trust like a family member, spouse, partner or good friend. None of this is viewed as abnormal or acting spoiled. In fact, most of us feel truly fulfilled when we can be there for someone we love.
So, if this is true, why would it ever be viewed as bad, fussy, spoiled or difficult for an infant, our own child, to have those same reactions and needs? When a baby is feeling sick, why would it be “wrong” for him or her to cry and want to be held? If a child is having trouble sleeping or scared or just wants to be close to her mother or father, why would it be wrong to hold and comfort the child?
Your six week old daughter can’t verbally tell you she her stomach hurts or she’s cold or just needs to be next to you so she will communicate the only way she knows how, by crying. Although we may not know the immediate cause of her discomfort or upset, we do know providing comfort and care is the first step to resolving it.
It is ridiculous and infuriating to me that women and families are still being told not to care for their children in the most nurturing and natural ways. All human beings need to be and feel valued and cared for, whether they are one day or eighty years old, age means nothing.
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