This Week’s Question for Batya:
HELP! My 7 month old wants to be held all day long. I really do love cuddling with him during the day, and even sometimes at night I bring him into my bed (not sure if that’s OK or not?), but he cries literally all day long if I don’t hold him. Sometimes he’ll play for 10 minutes or so on the floor, but he always ends up yanking on me to be held. I can’t get anything done, and if I try to then the guilt of leaving him neglected makes me unable to attend to other things too. I feel like he’s completely spoiled, but at the same time how can I let him cry all day long? Can I be spoiling him? Is there such a thing with babies? Maybe it’s best to just hold him and that’s what other mommies do??
Looking forward to your swift response because my arms and back are killing me!
If I had a penny for every time I heard mothers chatting on park benches telling one another to “Put the baby down, you’re gonna spoil him” I would be a millionaire! Being held is a baby’s natural instinct that comes from the close bond he had with you in utero. You are absolutely not doing anything wrong by holding him and you should never let anyone make you feel guilty that you’re spoiling him – because you are giving him his most basic need of feeling loved and secure from the most important person in his life…you!
I will tell you, though, that if he is well rested, getting the proper amount of nutrients and not in any physical pain, there is not generally a logical reason that he should be crying “all day long.” Aside from the fact that it’s difficult and draining on you (and as we all know, a happy mommy = a happy baby), it inhibits his independence and ability to explore and learn about the world around him. Therefore, I think it’s really crucial to evaluate his days and nights to figure out why he’s crying, instead of figuring out how you can temporarily alleviate his crying.
Try do the following for a few days to help tune into his needs more:
1) Make a log of how much sleep he’s getting – when he naps, for how long, etc. Some babies are more sensitive sleepers than others and it could be that he’s just downright overtired! (a baby his age needs approximately 3-4 hrs of day sleep and 10-11 hours of night sleep).
2) Is he eating enough? Does he have a well-balanced diet with both solids and nursing/formula? Until around 1 year of age liquids are still crucial – but it’s important to also make sure he is getting the proper amounts of iron, fiber, and the like.
3) Keep him stimulated! Offer fun toys and games for him to make play time fun and exciting. That way he’ll actually want to get down on the floor and explore :).
When your baby cries, he is doing so because he needs something. Sometimes it is a physical need and other times it is emotional. I am all for holding a baby to give him the boost of touch and a sense of comfort, but getting to the root of what is bothering him will greatly lessen his overall irritability. Good luck!