There is no such thing
We’ve all had that annoying relative or friend who complains that we’re holding our baby too much. Warning us that too much holding will spoil our little one, or make them stuck to us like glue for all eternity. Comments like that can definitely get under your skin as a new parent, especially at the beginning. You know, when you sort of don’t know what the heck you’re doing and you’re a hot mess of doubt, worry, insecurities and full of hormones.
Our society today isn’t helping
Our society today is focussed on soothing babies on their own as soon as possible. Sleeping on their own in their room, sleeping through the night and so on. When your baby doesn’t do all these things as fast as possible, there is something really wrong, isn’t it? We have stopped listening to our maternal instincts. Because deep down, we know what’s best for us and our babies and that’s conflicting with everything we read and hear from others…. Next to the fact that it’s just hard to find someone that supports your type of parenting, upbringing, instincts, whatever you want to call it. Not feeling supported in your style makes you try things that are hurtful to you and your baby. And not only hurtful, it becomes stressful as well.
Touch is a cornerstone of positive infant development
As a doula, I encounter many moms that think ‘the book way is the way’ and I’ve had mom’s throwing away certain books. Putting new moms under stress and expectations is just plain brutal. Every mom and every baby are unique. And so are their ways together as a team. Because that is what mom and baby become, a team. Everyone that has done team sport knows very well that you don’t become a team in one day. That you have to do ‘tryouts’ based on your gut instincts and check if that’s the right approach. The same for motherhood.
When I come to the ‘ballgame’ I first observe the team, to see but mostly to feel what’s ‘off’. Based on that I ask questions and check mom’s needs. I put all of that together in a mix and help mom to ‘write her own rulebook’. The days following I’m there for feedback and support. Eight out of ten times, I don’t have to come back. What I do is simple: empower mom that she can/should/must trust her gut instincts in order to understand her little one needs and not to forget herself in the whole process.
The good thing
The good news is that study after study has proven that holding your baby is not harmful in the least. And is actually a vital part of caring for babies in the early days, with long-term impacts on health and development. Just a few months ago, a study came out showing that early skin-to-skin contact leads to improved neurodevelopment, higher IQ, and lower rates of aggression. Skin-to-skin contact has also been shown to increase breastfeeding success, and can even make certain medical procedures less painful for infants.
A gentle touch, especially skin-to-skin, is just one of the most important things parents can do for their babies.
In other words: All you new moms and dads out there can breathe a giant sigh of relief — and ignore everything you’ve ever heard about “spoiling” a baby with attention and cuddles. There is just no way to hold a baby too much. Really and truly. No freaking way. Of course, even if parents intend to shower their babies with endless hugs and kisses, it’s not always possible. No one is saying that you can never put your baby down, or that your own needs should be pushed completely aside when you have a baby. It comes down to balance. Trust your gut instincts a million times <3