4 reasons to pick up your new baby when he cries

By Dr Richard C. Woolfson   — June 13, 2017
  • 1 / 5

    You shouldn’t worry about spoiling your baby if you carry him, whenever he cries.

    Here are four good reasons why.

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  • You can rule out physical discomfort
    2 / 5 You can rule out physical discomfort

    Although you may have a very strong suspicion that your baby is crying for psychological reasons – for example, his tears are due to boredom or loneliness – you cannot tell for certain that he is not in physical discomfort until you pick him up.

    This is really the only way you can visually check him over (for instance, for a rash), you can change his body position (in case he is in pain through lying in a twisted position), and you can verify his temperature (perhaps he is either too hot or too cold).

    These simple actions enable you to rule out major physical reasons for his crying, and you would know what they are if you pick him up.

    Related: 3 things not to do when your baby has a fever

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  • Your body contact relaxes him
    3 / 5 Your body contact relaxes him

    Whether his tears stem from physical stress or psychological stress, body contact with you provides reassurance, especially if you hold your crying baby so that he presses against your chest.

    Your touch is familiar and soothing. He senses your muscles, heartbeat and body temperature when held close that way, which in turn influences his own body reactions.

    Your soothing words have much more impact when your baby feels your hands, arms and body next to him.

    You may find that gradually, his heartbeat and breathing starts to coincide with yours. This involuntary, spontaneous matching of respiration rate often occurs between mother and baby during close physical contact. Your relaxed state spreads to your baby simply by holding him to you.

    Related: Baby wants to be carried all the time: what to do

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  • He feels safe and secure
    4 / 5 He feels safe and secure

    There is an emotional dimension to this, as well. You know you’re only a few metres away in the next room when you hear him burst into tears, but your baby doesn’t know that. Particularly during the early days and weeks, out of sight is out of mind.

    So if you simply go into his room to re-establish his sense of security without picking him up, chances are he will not be able to see you through his tears.

    His sobs are so intense that his immature vision is blurred. That is why the act of picking him up, that human contact, immediately spreads a feeling of safety through him.

    Related: 6 reasons why new babies cry

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  • Touch enhances bonding
    5 / 5 Touch enhances bonding

    Psychological studies confirm that loving physical contact enhances the bonding process between mother and baby.

    Of course, you achieve this sort of touch in lots of ways while he is awake. For example, when you wash and change him, when you hold him while feeding him, or when he is in your arms as you talk to him.

    All these episodes of contact strengthen the connection between you and your baby. Picking him up when he cries during the night has the same effect, too.

    If bonding is enhanced by loving physical contact in the daytime when he is settled and content, imagine how much more an effect that will have when he is tearful and distressed in the night.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

    Related: How to handle a clingy baby

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