Written By Jennifer Shaer MD, FAAP, FABM, IBCL
Parents of newborns often ask me if holding their baby too much will spoil him or her. The answer to this question is a resounding “No”.
Newborn babies are accustomed to being held 24/7. This was their existence during their entire gestation. Any amount of time that a newborn is not being held can be stressful. An infant does not need to learn and cannot learn to be independent immediately after birth. Newborns do not have the capacity to be lazy or manipulative at this stage.
The best way to comfort and care for a newborn is to imagine recreating the feeling of being in utero. If your baby falls asleep on your chest, enjoy it. Newborns regulate body temperature, heart rate and breathing best when lying chest to chest with mother or father.
Because of this, baby wearing has become popular of late and is a great way to nurture your baby hands free while taking care of yourself and even your other kids.
However, this does not mean that you need to be a slave to your baby. If you need to put your baby down and he cries, it will not harm him in the long run.
My advise is to follow your instincts. Hold your baby whenever you want to without the guilt that you are spoiling him.
Cherish this time. All too soon he will be grown up. On the other hand, do not fret if you have to or want to put him down to take care of something. Consider using a sling which will allow you to multitask.
As babies grow up, this advice changes. Older babies do benefit from learning how to self soothe. For now, enjoy those first few months. Forget the laundry, cooking, entertaining and other chores unless critically important. Spend this time bonding with your newborn and enjoy every moment while it lasts.
Dr. Shaer is a pediatrician and a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC). She is director of the Breastfeeding Medicine Center of Allied Pediatrics of New York.