Mothers have a hardwired ability to soothe babies when they cry. It’s what we do. It’s a biological imperative that is hard to ignore. Is it okay to hold them when they cry? Do we allow them to get used to being held but not when they ask? Are we letting them down by holding them so often?
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Why do Babies Love to Be Held?
Experts call it the fourth trimester for babies younger than 4 months. This is a time when babies become accustomed to the outside world. They were kept close to their mothers for nine months in a safe, warm environment. It takes time for them adjust to their new environment after being born in a noisy, cold, and open world. They long for the same comfort they experienced in their womb. They feel the closest they can to the comfort they know when they are held.
Can I hold a baby too long?
One of the most important parenting issues is whether to hold your baby when it cries. Some say that the baby should be held every time it cries. Others are more in the “You’ll spoil their children” camp. It’s complex, Dr. Jennifer Shu says. She explains that it could be too much if it has a negative impact on their safety or physical development. Over-holding can have a negative effect on the baby’s ability to exercise and build their muscles. A baby should not be held for too long as it could cause problems with their safety.
She adds that it is not easy to believe that you can spoil your baby by too much holding them. “Holding a baby can help create a sense security and comfort. Some babies may have difficulty falling asleep if they are forced to do so.
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What if I can’t hold my baby when they cry?
Sometimes you can’t hold your baby as long as they want. You might have to give your baby a break if you are cooking, tending to children, or otherwise making it unsafe to hold them. Shu says that is perfectly fine. Shu says that it’s okay for babies to cry from time to time, even if they are not able to hold their parent. She explains that it can teach delayed satisfaction. So long as they are left alone and there is a caregiver or parent to comfort them.
You can have both the best of both worlds: a calm, comfortable baby and no need to carry them around. This allows babies to be held and the caregiver can take control of their baby. Safety is important. Caregivers must ensure that baby’s airway remains intact and that they are not exposed to injury from cooking. Babywearing can alter the center of gravity so be sure to not fall.
How to soothe a colicky baby
Do you notice that your baby has intense crying spells lasting up to three hours? Colic could be a problem. Colic is a condition that causes excessive crying without explanation. Barry Lester, Ph.D. is the director of the colic clinic at Brown University Center for Children at Women & Infants Hospital, Providence and coauthor of Why is My Baby Crying.
The “rule of Threes” is a common way pediatricians use to diagnose a condition. “When a baby starts crying intensely for more than three hours (usually in the evening) on at least three consecutive days, or for more than three consecutive weeks –for no apparent reason,” Mary Ann LoFrumento M.D., author, Simply Parenting: Understanding Your Infant & Newborn.
Colic Calming Technique: Follow the “Five S” Strategy
It’s difficult to treat colic because doctors don’t know what causes it. Conventional medications, such as anti-gas, pain medication, and antacid, can’t cure colic. Same goes for diet modifications. One strategy that may work is to mimic the life inside the womb using the “Five S” strategy.
Babies have an instinctive reflex that triggers when they see things that are similar to their fetal experience. Harvey Karp M.D., the creator of the DVD and the book, The Happiest Baby On the Block, says that it’s like a switch to stop crying. The Five S’s are swaddling (suding), shushing, swinging and sucking. Dr. Karp states that unless she was sick, she has never seen a child follow the Five S’s and not calm down.
This strategy can help colic babies.
Swaddling: Place your baby’s arms around her shoulders. But don’t wrap her tightly.