Updated: Dec 30, 2021
I used to hear this a lot from doctors, NICU nurses and other health professionals at the start of my training. I’ll never forget one kind but firm Scottish NICU nurse growling at me for picking up a 34 week premature baby at 3am on my shift. Her mother had been pumping and feeding till the small hours and needed sleep. Baby obviously missed her and my arms were available as I was sitting at the nurse’s station writing my notes. When I picked her up, I was told “ You’ll make a rod for that mother’s back. You’re no doing her any favours”. I didn’t place baby back. I keep her in my arms, settled and sleeping. I was amazed that this nurse, who I respected very much, would suggest that cuddling a baby too much was wrong. Luckily, in time, science came down on my side. Babies who are frequently picked up and cuddled when crying actually cry less overall. This kind of responsive parenting is particularly effective in the first 3 months where babies cry A LOT.
There is an important exception to this rule though. Crying babies are stressful. If you are feeling angry, frustrated or overwhelmed beyond your usual emotional range then just place baby in a safe space and walk away for 5 minutes to regulate. Step outside, place some headphones on, call a friend, have a cry, splash your face with water…… whatever works for you. No long term harm will come to baby from these actions. Staying with a baby whilst angry and overwhelmed will not soothe baby and, sadly, at worst can be dangerous. So go gently with yourself.
If you are feeling overwhelmed often talk to your GP. You will not be the only one. It’s a common feeling. Your GP can walk through some options for you and be part of your support package. #exhaustedparent #exhaustedmama #colic #babytrouble #milkandhoneypaediatrics #paediatricdoctors #babysupport #babyhelp #babytears #soothing #cryingbaby #calmingacryingbaby