Reminder: It is okay to put your baby down sometimes

Whether you think of yourself as a gentle, conscious, respectful, attachment, or responsive parent, you would already know about the importance of snuggling your baby. Among the many benefits, it helps to boost brain, cognitive, and motor development, as well as reducing stress, improving sleep, and increasing oxytocin levels for greater bonding.

We are a contact species after all, and essentially this closeness, particularly during infancy, is vital to our existence as humans.

Whilst your baby’s preferred place to be is in your arms (and of course, you love it as well), does any of this resonate with you:

  • You’re finding yourself getting ‘touched out’, and craving some time to do something for yourself.
  • That infamous mum guilt rears its head when you have the desire to maybe listen to a podcast rather than play peekaboo. To read a novel rather than recite a nursery rhyme.
  • You worry that if you’re not constantly holding them, singing to them, talking to them, and playing with them, that they won’t develop a secure attachment with you or you’ll hold back some part of their development.
  • You feel like you’re playing an internal game of tug o’war between meeting your baby’s important emotional and physical needs, while slowly losing a little part of yourself because you’re not meeting your own needs.
  • You are waiting until your baby’s asleep to do ALL the things you want to do, but you don’t always have the energy or motivation.

Do you know that none of your baby’s needs equate to being held and occupied all day?

Sure, they need to feel loved, safe, seen, and secure. For healthy growth and development, they need for their caregivers to tune into their cues, respond to them reliably and consistently with positive care, meet their physical and sensory needs, and engage and connect with them.

But, not 100% of the time.

Mumma, it’s okay and it’s even beneficial to put your baby down sometimes

Magda Gerber, who was an American early childhood educator and founder of RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers), wrote this about raising a creative child: ‘Take the mobile off the bed, take care of their needs, and leave them alone’.

She not only advocated for children, but also for their parents. Part of her philosophy is that parents shouldn’t feel pressured to constantly amuse their children, and that they don’t need to use mobiles and other contraptions to occupy them either.

It’s beneficial to put your baby down because ‘blue sky thinking time’ is actually important. What this term refers to is giving your baby the opportunity to just ‘be’. Alison Gopnik, a well-known professor of Psychology, specialising in how children come to know the world around them, stresses that babies given time alone in a safe space can begin to develop their own point of view, and absorb everything in their environment with all of their senses.

It doesn’t literally mean gazing up at the blue sky (although that is magical and part of it as well), but when you’re at home, give your baby the opporunity to lie on a mat and gaze around at their surroundings. You don’t need to hang toys over their head. For an infant, their world is wondrous and worth exploring. Babies are like little scientists, filled with natural curiosity and a drive to test out their hypotheses.

Of course, your baby requires your presence (and should be supervised at all times from a safety perspective) and your time. But, you certainly don’t have to neglect your own needs. Take these blue sky thinking moments to care for yourself without guilt.

So, try this today with your baby of any age. Grab yourself a drink of choice, a book (or it could be knitting, mindful colouring in, or an exercise video, for example), and pop your baby on a mat on the floor. Sit beside your little one, and do whatever it is that you enjoy.

You may have other children to attend to, but they too never stop needing opportunities to play and explore independently, so keep them in the room with you with access to some open-ended toys (blocks or containers and lids are great).

You’ll not only be modeling self-care, but that it’s okay and enjoyable to just be.

Repeat this mantra until you start believing it and then implementing it:

It’s okay to put my baby down, and to care for my own needs

It’s okay to put my baby down, and to care for my own needs

It’s okay to put my baby down, and to care for my own needs


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