As a new parent, you may have noticed that your baby is always reaching out to touch you. Whether it’s grabbing onto your shirt or even holding onto your finger, babies seem to have an innate need to be in physical contact with their mothers. While it can be adorable and comforting, you may also find yourself wondering why your baby wants to touch you all the time. Does your baby want to be held or touched all the time? Then this is the blog post for you! Keep reading to find out why your baby may want to touch you all the time.
First of all- Is this Normal?
As a therapist specializing in birth to six, mental health, including sleep, I’m here to tell you all about infant and toddler sleep and brain development. There are many reasons why your baby might want to be held or touched. Here are six reasons why your baby really wants to be held especially during sleep, and some tips for coping with that. As well as helping you figure out if this is normal or not.
You may be wondering, is this normal? Do you need to do something about it? What to do about it? But don’t worry, I am here to clear up any concerns you may have about this. In this blog, I will talk about the six reasons or benefits of keeping your baby close based on biology and science.
Reasons why your baby wants to be held
Firstly, it helps to regulate their body temperature. Keeping them physically on you, literally skin to skin, helps them pick up your temperature or the person who’s holding them and helps regulate their temperature. This means that it guarantee’s that they won’t be too hot or too cold. That’s awesome, right?
The next one is it helps to regulate their breathing. Similarly, their body kind of tunes into your body or to whoever’s holding them, and it helps to regulate their breathing.
It also gives more opportunities for relaxation and sleep. Why? Particularly when the mother is holding them, that is the closest, safest place to be. It also is often the source of food if you’re breastfeeding. It’s literally the place to be when your main priorities in life are to eat, sleep, and be safe, which are the priorities of a new baby.
Supplying What Baby Needs
The mom’s body supplies all three and gives them lots of opportunities to feel safe and relaxed when going to sleep. This is why they will often sleep longer stretches when being held compared to when they’re alone in a bassinet or a crib.
It also reduces stress for both the parent and the baby. When your baby is close and you can monitor them at all times, you feel less stressed. Biologically, we’re designed to want to have our babies close, so that’s why when they’re close to us, we both feel safer and happier.
The fifth one is it calms them down and reduces overall crying. Crying is a form of communication, but it’s also a sign that there is stress in the baby’s body. That’s why they end up crying. So keeping them close and them staying close reduces the crying because you’re able to respond faster than if they were further away from you.
And finally, holding a sweet, cuddly, squishy baby helps both of you bond. It increases skin-to-skin contact, it increases feeding, and breastfeeding. Since you are spending more time together, you are able to bond easier and faster.
The main reason why your baby needs to be held would be sleep. That is because during sleep they are in a very vulnerable state. So the smartest and best place to be is close to Mom.
Yes, your baby is normal- Trust me!
If your baby is upset, or crying and they are getting no sleep during the day, night, all the time and your doctor is saying, this is colic, that is bullshit. Babies don’t cry for fun. It’s not normal for your baby to cry all day, all night, and to just never want to be put down.
If that’s the case with your baby, make sure you don’t just ignore that. One thing that I personally wish I knew as a new mom is that that’s not what life with a baby should look like.
Babies don’t just cry for fun, It’s a sign that something’s off. If your intuition is telling you that something is wrong and your baby is crying all night and all day long, and just nothing seems to soothe them please get help. Do not let yourself be dismissed and be told that it’s just colic and you just have to wait.
Try to find a professional that can help you figure out what is the cause of the crying. Here’s the thing, it is normal for babies to wanna stay close to you. And it is normal for them to want to sleep on you. It is not normal for them to cry all night or all day.
But you might be thinking, okay, Valerie, that’s awesome and great! I do hold my babies a lot and most of the time I enjoy it. But sometimes I gotta do the housework and it just feels too much to me. It’s not sustainable for me, and I get that. I’m not suggesting that you should be holding them 24/7. That’s definitely not practical or sustainable for anyone. But I will help by explaining some coping strategies that you can use. Other than getting help from your village, which is talked about more in another blog, these are some coping skills that you might be interested in trying.
One is baby-wearing, so you can use a carrier to wear your baby around the house while getting work done. Sometimes your life circumstances are such that you can’t actually sit down with them during their naps. So you can use Babywearing as a method to help with that. It allows your baby to stay close to you while you get to move around the house and be hands free.
Another one is getting support. Calling on your partners, family, or friends to give you some relief with the baby and hold the baby while you do what you need to do. We also talk more about that in this blog right here.
Embrace the Time Together
But maybe it’s time to embrace nap time as a time for you and time for relaxing, which is really important. You can always use their nap time as the time for you to rest. And during awake time, they may be content just playing around, on the floor, or just hanging out while you do the housework.
Create a mindset shift where you think of nap time as rest for both you and your baby. Then awake time is partial playtime but also time for you to get things done. This is a great way to make ensure that your rest and nap needs are met. And you also get the housework done while they’re awake.
Creating this mindset shift was revolutionary for me as a new mom. So try implementing these changes and let me know how these changes helped you! If this sounds practical or impractical I’d love to hear it.
Adjust Sleep Arrangements
Another way to make life easier is with a baby who just wants to stay close to you–which again can be completely normal is alternative sleeping arrangements. Some babies, especially young babies, just need a longer time to transition from the womb outside into our world, particularly in the first several months.
Some alternative sleeping arrangements you could consider are bed-sharing and co-sleeping. These would allow your baby to stay close to you and feel that safety, and have security and access to food.
Maybe you’ve embraced nap time as downtime, but you don’t feel like resting or napping yourself. Or you maybe have embraced nap time as a time for you. This is something which I started doing during the later months of my first baby when I realized it was just unsustainable to spend nap time being productive. Maybe you want to embrace a hobby that you didn’t have time to do before. Maybe you wanna listen to podcasts, or binge-watch the TV show that you just didn’t have time for before
But what about my other kids?
Does your infant have an older sibling or other siblings in the house? Do you feel like you don’t have time to nap when the baby is napping. Introduce a special basket of toys for your toddler at home that contains toys and other things they can only play with during nap time. This would help keep them distracted and away from you.
The basket doesn’t have to contain anything special. It can just be a collection of household items that they love playing with. Things they don’t typically get the chance to play with like pots and pans, toilet rollers, spatulas, squishy things. Anything that they don’t normally get to play with. Any toys that aren’t their regular everyday toys, and you can even hype this box up. You’d be surprised how excited they would get. So you save this box of toys to use only for naptime so that they’re distracted during the time that you need them to be most distracted.
I hope that this blog helped you realize that your baby’s not broken. You’re not doing anything wrong if they only want to sleep on you. It’s completely biologically normal and your baby is just being a baby. It is hard. It can be overwhelming. So I hope that my suggestions and tips for getting help and for ways to make the most of it are helpful.
Overall, the desire for physical contact is a natural and healthy part of your baby’s development. Touch is one of the primary ways that babies communicate and bond with their caregivers. It can have a significant impact on their overall well-being. If you are experiencing any other problems with your baby and feel like you need more help, please dont hesitate to reach out to me here