I had the pleasure of spending most of a week with my daughter and her husband, after the birth of my granddaughter!

We found ourselves standing around her bassinet just gazing at her, watching her breathe, listening to the newborn noises she makes, simply drinking in her beauty, and being thankful for this little miracle.

When she wasn’t in the bassinet, one of us was holding her…which led to the inevitable question from my son-in-law,

Is it possible to hold a baby too much? So and so told me that if I hold her too much, she will be spoiled.”

No, it is not possible to hold a baby too much. And no, she will not be spoiled.

For nine months a baby is “held” within her mother’s womb, and the transition to life in the world is dramatic and sometimes even traumatic. The first language a baby understands is the language of touch. The manner in which a baby is held…or not held communicates something to the baby about how mom and dad feel about her.

Babies who are tenderly held receive the message that they are worthy of love and care, and experience a sense of emotional safety. Holding a baby provides a sensory bath that stimulates the growth hormone and the neurochemical cocktail associated with a sense of well-being.

She feels the breath of the mom and the rumble of mom’s chest when she speaks or sings. She smells mom, feels her heartbeat, the touch of her skin, and the movement of her body. This sensory bath is an important component of the process of forming an attachment relationship.

As the baby grows and becomes more mobile, she will give cues as to when she does and does not want to be held. As babies grow and mature they have an increasing desire to venture out and explore the world.

The key to good parenting is to learn to read the baby’s cues and respond in a timely, consistent, and affectionate manner.

When babies are ready to explore, they will wiggle and squirm or gesture and point to objects or people they want to see. When they want to be held, they will raise their arms or reach for someone to hold them.

Being aware of a child’s communication clues continues to be important throughout childhood. Children will tell us what they need if we are astute observers, and interpret their messages. The slump of the shoulders, a sigh, a heavy step or a sparkle in the eye communicates volumes. How does your child communicate disappointment? Joy? Fear? Frustration?

Take time to observe and listen with all of your senses. (No, they won’t be spoiled!  And YES – that’s my granddaughter!)