Being born is hard. It’s a tough transition. Imagine it. You’ve spent your whole life in a warm comfortable place. The light is always a warm glowing red. You don’t ever have to think about food, ever. And even when you defecate, it just gets disposed of without your knowing.
It’s a constant state of “being held.” And then, suddenly, it all comes crashing in. You’re forced through a tight space into a cold and barren landscape. Bright, harsh lights pierce your eyes. The comfortable fluid where you lived your life is now fridged air.
Your body now has to heat itself. It has to learn how to defend against invaders like viruses and bacteria. Fortunately, you brought a little defense force with you until you can grow your own. But that doesn’t change the fact that sickness and death are always waiting at your door.
That’s why your baby always wants to be held. They haven’t gotten used to the world. Your world. And they need help transitioning.
1. A New Way To Think About Why Your Baby Always Wants To Be Held
It’s like a brand new vegetarian. They can’t quit meat cold turkey. That’s crazy. So, clever people have created meat substitutes to make the transition a little less painful. Of course, it will never replace the real thing. Meat will always be meat. But, if they are going to make the transition, they’ll have to sacrifice a little.
This is how you should think of your baby. Like someone transitioning into an unfamiliar world. Like an addict quitting their drug of choice. It’s going to be a little rough. But they shouldn’t have to quit cold turkey. They need that gentle switch over.
But the problem with the baby who always wants to be held, is that doctors jump directly to colic when concerned parents ask for advice.
Some doctors question the validity of these diagnoses. Mostly on the basis of saying 50% of babies have this “abnormal” condition called colic. Sounds more like an epidemic, if it were true that this many babies had colic.
The more likely scenario is the one mentioned in this article’s first paragraph. The baby who always wants to be held is going through a rough transition. And many parents look for the easy answer.
Now, we aren’t saying to distrust your doctor. But bringing up alternative thoughts is never a bad thing.
2. What To Try First Before Assuming It’s Colic
The period right after birth until three months of age is commonly called the “Fourth Trimester.” This again is a time of incredible change for your baby. And it’s probably when your baby always wants to be held.
But there are some things you can do to ease that transition. And hopefully, you won’t have to rack up such a large doctor’s bill treating something that may not even be there.
That last bit of their life in the womb, your baby constantly experienced movement. They became quite enamored of the feeling. But when babies come out of the womb, one of the things they miss is movement.
What do parents tend to do to babies when they lay them down? Do they put them on something that moves? No. They place them on a fairly solid, stationary object called a bed, or a crib, or even the floor with a blanket.
Your baby finds this lack of movement disturbing. Your baby always wants to be held because that is preferable to the cold, motionless slab upon which you typically place them.
Instead, try placing them in a rocking crib, or gently swaying them in your arms from side to side. A car ride too can help them fall asleep and not be so fussy.
Imagine being inside a large pumping machine every time you sleep. Soon, you won’t be able to sleep without the sound of the pumps. This is what’s happening when your baby always wants to be held. They want to be closer to your heart.
That may sound cheesy, but they need sounds familiar to them to fall asleep.
Some music services actually offer music specifically for this purpose. These songs can include heartbeats, water sounds, and other rhythmic sounds.
How do certain amusement park rides simulate flight? By holding you over space, right?
Your baby hung out in essentially a null gravity compartment for the nine months in the womb. And, a lot of stimulation was blocked out by your body.
This is a two-fold bit of advice. Your baby always wants to be held, but that isn’t always working is it? Instead, hold your baby face down. Let them lie across your arm with their head gently resting near the crook of your arm and their arms and legs dangling.
Not only is this a soothing position, it gives them a sense of weightlessness and they won’t have your face in theirs the whole time.
A possible reason why this works: object permanence. Object permanence is why peek-a-boo is so amusing to babies. Until about eight months of age, a baby has no concept of the existence of objects outside of their view. When you put your face behind your hands, your face ceases to exist for the baby.
Perhaps not having your face constantly before theirs is a way of helping them forget about the strange world they are in and sleep.
Lastly, your baby may simply be hungry. Forget the feeding schedule. Forget them even finishing their bottle. They may just need the comfort of the nipple to get them through.
This is a natural and important part of the “fourth trimester.” It helps the skull bones return to the natural position after birth.
If you aren’t breastfeeding, a good formula might be a good thing. Especially if you need something to feed in a pinch.
Your baby is just trying to cope with the harshness of this new world. Help them get through it. Give them all the love and care you can.