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Fayette-Mom: Put the baby down

Posted July 18, 2011

Jennifer Joyner

I love going to baby showers, especially when the host hands you a piece of paper and asks you to write down your best piece of advice for a new mom.

I suppose many mothers hit the popular subjects, such as how to get the swing of breastfeeding or where are the best places to hit for consignment sales.

My favorite piece of advice, however, always needs extra explanation: “Put the baby down."

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was beyond paranoid, always wondering if something was wrong with the baby. When she was born and I was finally able to see for myself that she was OK, I was elated. My mom says she remembers advising me from the beginning to not hold my baby daughter while she slept — to get her used to sleeping in her bassinet or the crib on her own. This advice seemed silly to me at the time: What harm could I possibly be doing by simply wanting to hold my newborn?

Heh. Hindsight is something else.

Emma is now 7 and she still has a hard time going to sleep at night. She always wants to be right up under me, at all times, which is wonderful, if I don’t have anything that needs to get done! My mom chuckles when she sees this now, and I know she’s right when she says it’s because I held baby Emma all the time.

For proof, I need to look no further than my son. Eli was born when Emma was just 19 months old, and while I was enamored with my newborn son, I had no choice but to put him down frequently to chase the toddler around the house. Eli is now 5 years old, and he goes to sleep without a bit of problem. In fact, he is rather annoyed if he has to share his bed with anyone. He plays independently with ease and has always had very little separation anxiety.

So, all you new moms-to-be out there: You will be in love with that newborn and could likely spend hours gazing into their eyes or smelling their sweet heads.

But I beg of you. After a little while, put the baby down.

Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in September. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.



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  • camille96 Jul 20, 2011

    I also heard when my son was a newborn that he could not be "spoiled". Well, how about "taught" to be rocked/bounced/held to sleep? We started this in the hospital and I could no longer handle it at 4 months and 15 lbs. later! It was a trying month to teach him to fall asleep on his own, but it was worth it in the end. I say don't start anything that you don't want to be doing in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years...etc!

  • Killian Jul 19, 2011

    I disagree with this. When the babies get older, maybe, but not as newborns. You simply cannot "spoil" an infant, no matter what our grandparents might have told us. Letting an infant "cry it out" teaches it that their needs aren't going to be met, and they they cannot depend on their caregivers to be responsive.

    The best advice? Use your instincts. If your instincts tell you that your baby needs to be in your arms, then that's where the baby should be.

  • FromClayton Jul 19, 2011

    very wise words.

  • Go_APPS Jul 19, 2011

    love this! thank you for the reminder. being just over 6 weeks away from my due date, i trying to soak up as much mom wisdom as i can. :)

  • angelienna Jul 19, 2011

    I think its important to note that this blog does not state don't hold your child. It is merely stating that it is ok to put your child down and let them explore and be independant on their own. I held my child when I could and let him cry it out when I felt he should. He is an amazing 15 year old who still hugs his mama in public and is considerate of others. Each child is different and no one is saying don't hold them... they are merely saying that putting them down is okay and new moms shouldn't feel bad about it! :-)

  • bikely Jul 19, 2011

    Every baby is different, of course. My son was independent from day one-cried to be put down- hated to be held, never would sit on my lap,hated strollers and car seats etc. Rather disappointing for a first time mom actually. Fortunately my second child was (and is) cuddly. Still put her in her own bed to sleep though!

  • carolinagirl28 Jul 19, 2011

    I say they're only little for such a little while, so hold them whenever you can! I rocked all 3 of my babies to sleep every night when they were little, and yet they are completely independent sleepers at 9, 7 and 5 years old - they go to their own beds when we say it's time and sleep through the night without a peep. They also are capable of being independent when awake; they enjoy spending time with my husband and I but can also play on their own. It goes by fast enough as it is, you shouldn't advise people to miss out on the best part of having an infant around!

  • dragonlily Jul 19, 2011

    While this may have worked for you, please note that it's not great advice for everyone. In fact, it is contrary to an entire parenting school of thought - the appropriately named 'attachment parenting.' Many adherents of this school of thought actually think extended holding/nurturing behaviors actually lead the child to be more independent in later life, and advocate that the primary caregiver follow their instincts about holding/responding to cries/etc. But of course each family has to do what works best for them!

  • Love my boys Jul 18, 2011

    AMEN! My oldest child slept with me until he was 18 months old. He's now 8 and still tries to sneak in my bed at night. My middle one sleeps with no trouble (except trying to extend bedtime!) My little one was rocked to sleep until he was 8 months old. I broke that habit out of desperation and much to my husband's disappointment. It is a constant battle to get my little one in bed at the same time and in a quiet manner.