From the moment we hold our baby in our arms, we become their entire world – so it’s little wonder they crave being cuddled. And much to the surprise of many new mums, this longing to be held lasts well beyond the first few hours after birth.
Mum’s Grapevine babywearing consultant Brooke Maree says it’s common for new parents to worry their little one is too clingy but says there are important reasons for the constant need to be held.
‘My baby never wants me to put them down’. It’s a common sentence to hear from a new mum. We can worry our baby is too clingy, that they are only happy when attached to us, and go through feelings of being all cuddled out, often with tired arms and a sore back.
The reality of how much a new baby needs to be held can often come as a shock to many new parents. This may be brought on by the poor representation we are shown in movies and social media ‘highlight reels’ of babies sleeping peacefully in their cots or playing happily lying on their play mat. If a mother’s experience doesn’t compare to this, it can bring on a whole range of negative feelings. New mothers may fear something is wrong with their baby, or that they are creating a rod for their own back.
Why do babies love to be held?
So why does a child love to be held and often cry when they are put down? Are we spoiling them? Are we creating bad habits by picking them up and carrying them all the time? Simply, no! Your baby is completely normal. Let me explain further.
You have to remember where this baby has come from. The only place they have known for the last 9-10 months is their mother’s womb. It’s an environment that is snug, warm, fairly dark, filled with muffled sounds, rocked by gentle movements, and fed nutrients via the placenta 24/7. Every need is met inside there.
When your baby is then ready to make their entrance into the world and meet you, they face an environment that’s drastically different and new. The temperature is inconsistent, it’s bright, loud, and there are lots of new people to meet. Your baby also experiences for the first time what it’s like to be hungry, thirsty, hot, or cold. It can be quite overwhelming for them.
In this period sometimes referred to as the ‘4th trimester’ you can expect your baby to need your comfort often. It’s only natural that your baby may be slightly unsettled as they adjust to life outside the womb. Your baby is completely normal to want to be with you all the time, and actually very intelligent. With their brain only 25 per cent developed at birth, and born extremely dependent compared to any other mammal, they are using their primal instincts to recognise you as the optimal place for continued physical and emotional development, as well as safety and comfort.
How to make holding babies easier
Regardless of how normal this behaviour is, it is understandable for new parents to feel increasingly challenged to take care of their own basic needs when their new baby is incredibly dependent and clingy towards them. It’s something many new parents are emotionally and physically unprepared for, and even with preparation, there’s no denying it’s hard and a huge responsibility.
One of the best tools available to make this phase more manageable is investing in a baby carrier.
We can’t cuddle our babies in our arms all day long, we have to eat, clean, go places, and carry on with life. Babywearing by using a baby carrier or sling means parents can get on with life all while having their babies where they are happiest, close to them.
Carrying your child in a baby carrier or sling really helps soften the blow from womb to world for your baby. It helps bub stay close in a snug and warm environment that mimics the womb. The smells, sounds, and movements are all the same. It’s safe, and it’s calm, and that is what a baby wants.
Not only does babywearing give your baby comfort, it also gives you the closest thing to FREEDOM! You get to have two hands-free and your baby supported ergonomically attached to you. Your baby is usually asleep and content here and you can go about your day. Daily life is much more achievable and convenient when you’ve got a happy baby close to you.
So, if you’ve been referring to your baby as a ‘velcro baby’ and telling your friends “she never lets me put her down!”, please mumma, don’t stress. This is your baby being perfectly normal. You are the only safe place they know and they naturally want to cling to you all day long! So cuddle, feed, and carry them often.
Soon it will just be a fleeting memory as they become the independent, resilient, little beings you so lovingly raised to feel safe and confident in the world.
You’ve got this,
Brooke Maree is a Babywearing Educator & mother of two based in Brisbane. She is passionate about parents finding joy and confidence in their roles by using a baby carrier or sling to make their lives easier. An expert in her field, she provides educational blogs, video tutorials, a monthly podcast, private consultations and workshops. Find out more about her services at Brooke Maree.