Guest Author - Julie Renee Holland
I can't figure out why so many people think it is wrong to follow the natural instinct to hold your child. "You'll spoil him!' "Don't you have a swing? Playpen? Car seat? So you can put her down?" Babies want to be held because they are wired that way from birth. Held babies cry less, learn faster and are generally happier. Yes, a held baby will want to be held more than a baby that has been taught they can't trust adults to meet their needs. This is not the same thing as spoiling a baby.
First, you can't spoil a very young baby. Babies under 6 months are just not capable of the reasoning involved in being spoiled. You can, and should, hold them as much as possible. A sling or baby carrier makes babywearing possible. It is more convenient and frees your hands for other things. With a good sling you can hold your baby to their little heart's content and still go about your day.
Second, babies who are held enough to meet their emotional and physical needs will start to get down and move around on their own as soon as they are able to do so. Content, curious and alert, the held baby soon sees that there are things going on down there that they want to check out. This is a normal part of their development and holding them will not disrupt their natural urge to explore unless you don't let them down when they decide they are ready.
Some babies are ready to explore sooner than others. A timid child may not be ready to move away from you until months after a more exuberant child has already done a lot of exploring. Honoring your child's personality is an important part of building trust, so don't push your baby into independence before she is ready.
Finally, babies are little for only such a short time. Before you are ready they are grown and moving into the world on their own. Holding them now helps you to deepen your bond with your baby so they can move into the world confidently when the time is right. Due to your bond, your baby will know that they can trust you to be there if they need you, even as they explore the world.
This popular Attachment Parenting onesie reminds everyone that it is only for a while that you can hold your baby close.