Many a new mom worries and wonders – will they spoil their newborn if they always pick him up when he cries. I think that the answer can be found if only we look at it from the baby’s perspective and imagine what they are going through!
In the womb
Imagine yourself as a baby happy and content in the womb, never hungry, never thirsty, always warm with the light being filtered. Think of how strange it must be to suddenly come from that warmth and comfort and be thrust out into a world full of strange sounds, strange smells, bright light and strange positions!!!
Imagine being in an upside down and tightly curled position, in the last few weeks before birth and now your limbs are going every which way!!
Imagine never smelling anything different or even not smelling at all. Now, suddenly you are thrust out into mother earth and experience an enormous change from being warm and cosy and constantly jostled inside your mom to being out into a world where the temperature varies, movement is stopped (when mom puts you down to sleep.
Imagine you are now placed on your back, not all tightly curled up. How strange that must feel!
Imagine the strange feel of fabrics (no matter how soft!) for the first time on your previously naked skin.
If you can imagine all of this, then you will not feel so surprised when your baby cries whenever you leave him alone in his crib after he has been fed, the nappy changed
So how can we duplicate this warmth, comfort, motion for our newborns once they are with us in our homes? Here are a few ideas.
Hunger & Thirst
Your newborn has never experienced hunger or thirst in the womb. This is a new feeling for him and some babies need a few days before they learn to latch on well to either the boob or the bottle teat. It seems to me that if your newborn cries one should first offer a feed even if it is only 2 hours ago that he last fed – who are we to dictate the number of hours between feeds? If he is hungry, he will appreciate the offer….if not and he just wants a quick drink or a comfort suck, he will not suck for long (If you have no objection to a dummy you could try this first)
By keeping baby’s room and the rooms you are likely to be in with your baby, at a warmer than normal temperature for YOU, your newborn will be more comfortable. Remember, after floating in the amniotic fluid at 37 deg C to a room at 16 deg C in winter can’t be a pleasant experience! And if baby is cold, he will cry! The rooms should be warm enough for you to walk around in a T-shirt. Make sure, though that there is enough humidity in the room (a bowl of water in a corner is a good idea!) as otherwise the air may become too dry and cause your newborn to cough.
Don’t we all love soaking in a lovely warm bath?? Sometimes a deep warm bath will turn tears to contented murmurs! Make the most of it and jump in as well! Place baby on your chest, warm water over you both (make sure baby’s head is out of the water!!). You at least will get 10 blissful minutes of relaxation, hopefully! Mind you, not all newborns like a bath and if the room is cold, baby will cry when taken out of that nice warm water….so remember the warm room!!
Your newborn has been jostled and wobbled around whilst in your womb. The “practice” contractions during your pregnancy, squeezed your baby quite rhythmically and all this motion was comforting. So pick up your crying newborn and dance around with him or go for a walk or bounce him up and down whilst holding him close. Many a parent swears by the tried and trusted bumpy car ride…try it when all else fails!!!
Unbelievable as it seems, babies are actually soothed by the noise of a vacuum cleaner or a hairdryer!! Even the static of a radio which is out of tune can soothe a baby to sleep! It may drive you mad, but not baby!! Nowadays one does not have to leave the vacuum cleaner on all day in a corner, but can download “white noise” apps to one’s cell phone and leave that playing to calm a baby. In the warm months, just the noise of a fan swishing back and forth can also work.
A great way to keep your newborn calm and cosy is to carry them in a sling or other carrier. If you carry your newborn in front, they can feel your heartbeats and research has shown that babies who are carried regularly, cry significantly less than those who are not. A sling or carrier will also leave your hands free so you could grab a quick bite to eat or a cup of hot chocolate!
All in all, I think that one cannot spoil a newborn in those first three months of life, where he is adjusting to all the strange and wonderful things being out in the world exposes him to. So don’t think it is wrong to continually be comforted him by any (or all) of the suggestions above! You will not be spoiling him but will rather be letting him know that you are always there for him! By his fourth month, your newborn should have adjusted and you should be able to lay him down to sleep happily, maybe just staying close by until he actually falls asleep and leaving the “white noise” app playing away softly.
Good luck and happy parenting!