How to Manage When Your Baby Always Wants to be Held

There is not much that’s better than snuggling and holding your new baby. But as much joy as it brings, it can also get overwhelming. So what do you do when your baby wants to be held all the time, but you still need to manage life as well as get some time to yourself?

We have 8 tips that will help you get through the early stages of babyhood when your little one always wants to be held. Hopefully it will be exactly what you need to multitask while getting a little extra calm and quiet in your otherwise busy, new parent life.

Is it normal for a newborn to want to be held all the time?

If you are feeling like your new baby wants to be held 24/7 here are three things to remember:

  1. You’re not alone, in fact you’re likely in the majority of parents feeling this way.
  2. Holding your baby a lot is a good thing!
  3. Your baby is 100% normal.
  4. You are also 100% normal for wanting a break.

It is human nature for a baby to want to be close to the person who carried them inside their body for 40 weeks (give or take). It makes sense right? So let’s take a closer look into why there is nowhere else your baby would rather be than in your arms.

Why Your Baby Wants to Be Held So Much

Having an understanding of why your baby has such a strong desire to be held can help you get through what can be an overwhelming time for many parents. 

Reasons your baby is happiest in your arms include:

    • She can hear your heartbeat. This soothing sound is familiar white noise that helps her stay calm and relaxed.
    • It’s warm and cozy. Being wrapped up tight regulates their body temperature where they feel the most comfortable.
    • Your baby is comforted by your scent. 
    • If you’re breastfeeding, they have constant access to their food source. (Even if your baby is bottle-fed, your baby associates being held with getting the nutrition they need.)
    • Nothing else feels like Mom. Even as adults, many of us can relate to this, right?!

The truth is that empathy can be helpful in navigating a situation that may be hard, even when it comes to understanding your baby’s needs. Using this perspective will help you keep your baby happy and comfortable while you manage your needs at the same time.

What to Do If Your Baby Wants to Be Held All the Time

If you have a baby who wants to be held a lot, you may think you ended up with a “needy” baby. Most of the time, this isn’t true. It is natural for your baby to want to be in your arms. So instead of trying to figure out what you’re doing wrong (likely nothing), utilize strategies that will help you balance meeting both your baby's needs and your own.

Here are our top 8 tips:

1.) Use Tools that Help You Multitask

The truth is that those first several weeks with a newborn are hard and they are going to be with you a lot. Instead of feeling frustrated that you can’t get anything done, be okay with the fact that things are just going to go by the wayside for awhile because it’s REALLY OKAY! 

With that said, there will be tasks that do have to get done. Caring for yourself, the rest of your family, and your baby obviously top that list. (Though make sure your partner is sharing the load...which we’ll get to!) We recommend finding tools to help you get these tasks done with ease.

One of our favorites is the bökee. This is a bottle prep accessory that allows you to get bottles made with one hand, something you’ll likely be doing a lot of! It’s also great to use in conjunction with pumping, more on that here, or if you have older children - either to get their sippy cups ready for them, or if they’re old enough so they can even manage doing it on their own. 

We also love using hands-free breast pumps, timers to remind us when something needs to get done and one-handed baby food makers. And check out this list of one-handed snacks, because mama needs to eat!

2.) Use a Baby Carrier

We know you love holding and snuggling your baby, but it is also normal to feel overwhelmed when it’s difficult to get any time to yourself. Though a baby carrier doesn’t necessarily give you alone time, it sure can get you some quiet time where you actually have use of both of your hands.

Sometimes trying to get your baby down for a nap is futile, and it ends up being super stressful where you both are just in a lot of tears. A baby carrier will let your baby get the nap it needs, while you get some peace and quiet.

Or even for the baby who always wants to be held when awake, it can allow you to get some jobs done around the house while your baby coos happily alongside you. There are several types of baby carriers, so make sure you do your research to find out which one would work best for your baby - this list can get you started.

3.) Swaddle Your Baby

Though it’s wonderful for you and your baby to have lots of bonding time in those early weeks, and lots of holding is really good for them, getting them to sleep on their own sometimes is important, too. 

Following a sleep routine is the best way to help your baby sleep independently, and we always recommend including swaddling in that routine. 

Babies love to be swaddled because it mimics the feeling of being in your womb as well as being held. This is one of the best ways to calm and relax your baby so you can put them down to sleep. One of our favorites is the weighted swaddle from Dreamland Baby.

4.) Get Moving

When you need some time to yourself to just think and be, going for a drive or a walk can be really helpful. For the most part, babies love movement and it often lulls them to sleep. We highly recommend cozying up your baby in the stroller and going for a walk when the weather allows it. This is the perfect way for you to get exercise, fresh air and some time to (mostly) yourself.

Though a car ride is probably not as relaxing as a walk, it can be a great way to get out and clear your mind. It’s also completely ok to drive just far enough to get your baby to fall asleep and then come home and sit in your car while you let your baby snooze in the backseat (obviously never leave your baby in the car alone). Sometimes you just need a little mindless, interruption-free social media scrolling, amiright?!

5.) Let Go of Expectations

Up until the birth of your baby, you were likely spending a lot of time “nesting” and preparing for the arrival of your little one. Perhaps that meant lots of organizing, cleaning and cooking or freezing meals. 

But as soon as your baby arrives, all of this often comes to a screeching halt. And that is completely okay! Your house does not need to be perfectly cleaned (a little mess never hurt anyone) and it’s fine that your meals are far less than stellar. If there was ever a time to give yourself grace, this is it. 

In letting go of the expectation, you’ll be much more apt to enjoy this precious time with your baby and embrace those extra snuggles, because I’m telling you, mama, it goes by in a flash.

6.) Team Up with Your Partner and Ask for Help

If you are parenting alongside a partner, it is just as much their responsibility as it is yours to help care for your baby. Though you may be the one with the milk supply, there are lots of other ways that they can care for your baby so that you can get a break. 

And though a baby *may* prefer their mama’s arms initially, it won’t take long for them to get used to Daddy or another caregiver, too, as long as they have plenty of chances to be held by them as well. 

Not getting the help you were hoping for? Then say something. You may feel like you shouldn’t have to ask, but a dad can feel a bit on the sidelines and not know where to step in even though they want to. Being upfront about how your needs can be met while also giving your baby the best care will help immensely during your parenting journey.

And if you are parenting alone, reach out to other friends and family for support. We discuss some best practices in our article, “Tips for Parenting a Baby When You Don’t Have a Village.”

7.) Let Your Baby Get Used to Other People

On that same note, it’s important that you let other people hold your baby. Yes, your little one may fuss initially, but the more often you put your baby in someone else’s arms, the sooner they will get used to being held by someone other than you. 

This way, they will still get the comfort of being in someone’s arms and you can get the break that is necessary for your well-being. You will feel like a weight has been lifted knowing you don't always have to be the one holding your baby.

8.) Consult with Your Baby’s Pediatrician

Like we said, it’s normal for a baby to have peace and comfort when held in your arms. It’s also normal for babies to cry. What’s not normal, however, is for a baby to cry for extended periods day after day. We discuss this condition, called colic, in our article, “Best Baby Bottles for Gas in 2020.” If your baby cries for more than three hours per day, more than three days in a week, for at least 3 weeks in a row it’s time to consult your baby’s pediatrician for advice on what to do to help your little one.

But what if your baby isn’t doing this but you just feel overwhelmed? It’s time for you to talk to someone.

If It Ever Does Get to Be Too Much

It is normal to feel overwhelmed with having a new baby who always needs you. And if you generally feel happy and like yourself most of the time, that’s a good sign that you’re adjusting to your life with a new baby just fine. 

However, if you are experiencing the baby blues or have signs of postpartum depression, you need to talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Remember that you should never blame yourself for this feeling this way and it’s always okay to reach out for help when you can’t cope. Your doctor can get you the treatment you need. In the meantime, calling Postpartum Support International at 1-800-944-4773 is a place to start for immediate help. In doing so, you'll be able to get back to enjoying the time with your baby that you love beyond measure.

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