As a first time mom, I have been advised several times to not let my baby get used to being carried all the time. I think I had the same impression when I was still single, and might have mentioned it to other moms back then. In reality, I held my daughter for practically 24/7 during her first few months.
It’s part of my responsive parenting style, so obviously I did carry her whenever she cried. There came a point that I’ve accepted that perhaps my daughter was a velcro baby. However, I came across some other ideas online, that it should be looked at as perfectly normal. Babies stayed inside the womb for nine months. When they were born, they’re introduced to an entirely new environment. The only feeling that’s familiar to them is being close to their mother.
I imagined how my daughter might have felt every time she cried. It must be scary for her being outside her comfort zone, literally. All of a sudden, she no longer heard my heartbeat, my blood flowing through my veins, and it’s not as dark anymore. There are so many new sounds too that she doesn’t understand and cannot see clearly just yet. On my part, I also felt tired at times and wanted to put her down. There are instances when I thought she’s already sleeping, then she’d wake up and cry when I try to leave her on her bed. I wanted her to adjust and learn sooner. I also have other things I needed to do. After much struggle and inner battle, I decided that my daughter comes first. I will help her transition to this world in her own pace. I carry her when she cries to calm her, while I still continue to try putting her down for short periods, then just increased the duration so she’d get comfortable with it.
It didn’t take long. It did felt like forever, but looking back; oh how the time just passed by so quickly. Now, turning eight months old, my daughter already wriggles when she’s carried, because she wants to sit, to crawl, to stand, to touch things she’s curious about. She even protests when I hug her tight. She’s also able to sleep on the bed by herself. It won’t take long until she’s busy with her thing, and I’d be the one bugging her for a hug or so we can spend time together just like how we used to. A friend did tell me that science says babies who were held more turn out to be well-adjusted children. I kept that idea to heart so I’m reassured that this is the right thing to do.
I know, I know this can be too much for some moms, especially if you want to keep a work-life balance. I suggest do make the most of your maternity leave. Carry and hug your baby as much as you can specifically in the first few months. I’m certain that you won’t regret it, because those days you held them in your arms are priceless. They will never be a baby again.
Related article: read about Why babies calm down when carried.