Motherhood is a rewarding experience filled with ups and downs. In caring for your little one, a lot of unexpected things can happen which may literally make you go nuts. It’s completely okay to feel overwhelmed, because motherhood is no easy feat.
As a pediatrician, one of the many questions new moms throw at me is “why won’t my baby let me sit down?” This is a common problem among mothers which can be really distressing and uncomfortable. Holding your baby is one thing, but having to stand for hours while holding them is a completely different story. We’ll be discussing why babies cry when you sit and what to do about it.
- Why won’t my baby let me sit while holding her?
- What does research say about it?
- What do I do when my baby doesn’t let me sit while holding her?
Table of Contents
What Does the Research say?
Researchers see carrying as a calming response. A 2013 study published on Science Direct noted that a baby’s heart rate, crying and bodily movement was seen to decrease while being held by their mothers who were standing or walking compared to babies held by mothers who were sitting.
Why Do they stop when I stand up?
The research findings show that babies feel safe and are at ease when they are carried while standing. They may begin to feel unsafe or uncomfortable when you sit, which causes them to cry. This behavior is completely normal and is deeply rooted in your baby’s human instinct.
That rush of adrenaline that comes when we as adults are frightened or startled is the same thing that happens with your baby when you sit while holding her. So as expected, your baby will stop crying once you stand up as they feel safer and more comfortable.
What Can I Do If My Baby Won’t Let Me Sit Down?
Having to stand for hours while holding your baby is another form of torture, and as a pediatrician, I’m here to give you tips to help make your motherhood journey as seamless as possible. The following are tips and tricks to help you if your baby won’t let you sit.
Swaddle your baby:
Swaddling is the act of gently wrapping your baby in a breathable and soft blanket. This helps your baby become calm and feel sleepy. Research has shown that swaddling enhances more quiet sleep in your baby. So next time you want to hold your baby while sitting, try swaddling.
White noise is a special kind of noise that contains sounds of different frequencies. It has been used over the years to calm fussy babies and help them to go to sleep. A study involving 40 babies (two groups of 20 babies) reported that 80% of the infants went to sleep within five minutes of playing white noise. You can download some white noise tracks online or get a white noise machine to produce soothing white noise to help your little one fall asleep.
Give her a pacifier:
Pacifiers can help your baby fall asleep and is a good option if your baby isn’t letting you sit while you nurse her. Choosing the right pacifier for your baby depends on how comfortable she is sucking on it. Avoid pacifiers that are too big, attached to your baby’s neck or have a shield without ventilation holes to prevent choking.
Initiate Skin-to-Skin Contact:
Skin-to-skin contact with your baby has a soothing and calming effect on your baby. Bring your baby closer to you once she begins crying to make her skin come in contact with yours. This may help your baby become more comfortable and stop crying.
Rock her to sleep
Sometimes, all it takes is a little rocking movement to calm your baby and help her fall asleep. The rhythmic rocking movement can help soothe your baby. You can rock her with your arms or you could put her in a baby swing and gently rock her to sleep.
Making a gentle ‘shush’ sound
Gently making a shush sound to your baby calm help soothe your little one and help them stay calm.
Teach your baby to be self-soothe
As weird as this sound, it is completely doable. Babies have memories and they learn from it. If your baby cries when you hold them while sitting, you shouldn’t be so quick to stand up. Sometimes you need to give your baby the chance to soothe herself.
This is not easy at all, trust me! Letting your baby cry for some minutes before intervening will not only help them learn, but help ease your stress as a mother long term.
Understand your baby’s needs
Sitting while holding your baby may not be the only reason your baby is crying. It is always good to explore other options such as food, playtime, full diaper etc.
Sometimes your baby might just be hungry and needs to eat while other times your baby just needs your attention,for you to play with them. So it’s important that you take time to explore other reasons your baby may be crying before coming to the conclusion that she’s crying because you are sitting while holding her.
Using a baby sling
Baby slings are a good option for fussy babies. This works like skin-to-skin contact does. Your baby being close to your body can help soothe your little one and stop her from crying. Using a baby sling or baby carrier is the same as baby wearing, that way your little one can be close to you and eventually fall asleep.
Sing to your baby:
Singing to your baby when she’s crying can sometimes help to soothe her. Your singing reassures your baby that you’re still there. You should know that this doesn’t work for every baby, but if singing works for yours then you’re all set. You could sing lullabies, poems, calming songs, or basically any song that sounds comforting and could even help her go to sleep.
Take short breaks in between:
Standing while holding your baby can be very tiring and it is important that you take breaks in between. If you live with someone who could help you out, you could give your baby to that person to hold during your break period, just so you have time to rest your legs. That person could be your partner, family or friend. If you don’t have anyone to help you hold your baby, you may have to drop her in a crib or baby swing for a few minutes to rest your legs while trying to soothe her by rocking the crib. It is important that you take time to rest because not only is standing while holding your baby stressful, it is also unhealthy as prolonged standing has been shown in research to cause lower back pain, leg pains, body weakness and so on.
Babies can be sweet and at the same time complex. Figuring your baby out can be a very hectic and challenging task. As a pediatrician, I see new mom’s struggle to understand why their babies make a fuss and cry if they sit while holding them. As explained earlier, that reaction is your baby’s human instinct and not a cause for alarm. Your baby will outgrow this, but in the meantime, you can use the tips listed above to help ease your stress during this phase of your baby’s growth.
Nancy M.D. is a health practitioner, pediatrician and medical writer, who is dedicated to fostering awareness, and lending a helping hand to humanity at large.