Pediatric HealthSource: Will Holding My Baby Too Much Spoil Her?

Nathalie Maitre, M.D.

Q: Is it possible to hold my baby too much?

A: Absolutely not! Contrary to the advice that is sometimes given to new mothers, holding a new baby does not spoil them or prevent them from learning independence when it is time. In fact, it has been proven that gentle touch is a crucial part of brain development.

Through research, we’ve found that premature babies have a reduced response to touch compared to full-term babies, as do preemies who had more exposure to painful medical procedures. When parents and NICU caregivers provided an increased amount of gentle touch to these babies, they recorded much stronger brain responses before going home with their parents than those who weren’t touched or held as often.

Gentle touch can act as a stress reliever for all involved, but is most impactful on the baby, who usually sleeps better, cries less and has better heart and respiratory rates. Kangaroo care (the practice of holding babies with skin-to-skin contact) and breastfeeding can provide some pain relief with no adverse side effects. In fact, they have many health benefits for parents as well as preterm and term-born infants.

Always consult your child’s pediatrician concerning your child’s health.

For more pediatric health news parents can use, visit our blog:

Nathalie Maitre, M.D., Ph.D., is a neonatologist and physician-scientist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

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Kangaroo Care Tips

Kangaroo care is beneficial for your baby and easy to do:

  • Take care of your personal needs. Eat, drink water, use the restroom and pump your breasts before beginning.
  • Position skin-to-skin. Dress baby in only a diaper and place him between your breasts with his head turned to the side. Cover him with a receiving blanket.
  • Relax and enjoy. Get comfortable; sit back with your feet up if possible. Use a handheld mirror to look at your baby’s face while kangarooing. Kangaroo for as long as possible each day to give your baby the most benefits.
Nathalie Maitre, M.D., Ph.D.


Columbus Parent