Ask Motherly: My newborn cries whenever I'm not holding them—what do I do?

When you've got a 'velcro baby,' the struggle is so real.

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Editor's note: Sometimes you just need input from an experienced mama who *gets* it. Ask Motherly is a new advice column by Motherly's co-founders, Liz Tenety and Jill Koziol. Have a question for Liz and Jill? Email it to us at [email protected].

My newborn cries when not being held. What do I do? I need to get stuff done!

Oh mama. You waited a whole 40 weeks for your precious baby to arrive, and now that she is finally here she doesn't want to let you out of her sight. When you've got a "velcro baby," the struggle is so real.

We know how exhausting this can be. In an ideal world, new mamas like you would have a community of support to hold you up during this precious but challenging season of your postpartum life. But we know that for many mamas—especially during the pandemic—new motherhood can be an isolating experience. If this is your situation, know that we are wrapping you up in a big hug. And we do have some ideas to make it a little bit easier for you.

1. Spend some time soaking up those snuggles.

I know that you wrote to us asking for help spending some time away from baby, but we have found that being intentional about finding and luxuriating in some moments with baby can actually help with that goal. Set aside 30 to 60 phone-free minutes to snuggle and love that little one. Listen to relaxing music. Sip a tasty beverage. Count your baby's eyelashes and get that skin-to-skin time. Your baby will relish her mama's smells, touch and warmth. And you'll feel less guilty about getting time away from your little one.

2. Wear that baby.

We love soft baby carriers as well as more structured ones for different reasons, but both are absolute game-changers for new mothers. Babywearing, which is likely nearly as old as motherhood itself, can help keep your hands free so you are able to get things done while your baby is rocked to sleep in the carrier. As baby grows, you can even wear your little one on your back to make the experience even more hands-free. Your baby is happily nestled up against mama, and you are actually able to move around and accomplish stuff. Win-win.


Keep your velcro baby close—while still getting stuff done.

Baby Bjorn

Carrier One

$190

Tula

Explore Carrier

$179

Baby Bjorn

Bliss Bouncer

$250

Snoo

Smart Sleeper

$1395

3. Rock that baby swing.

We know babies can have preferences for different kinds of swings, so try asking friends or checking out Facebook Marketplace until you find a baby swing or seat that works for you. Some babies need a lot of motion like the 4moms mamaRoo swing. Our kids have always loved the gentle rocking comforting cocoon of the Baby Bjorn bouncer (which is a best seller at The Motherly Shop). Some babies like sitting next to you and being able to see you while they swing, and the gentle motion can help put them to sleep. For many moms, swings rock.

Another option that many mamas (us included) are loving is the Snoo, an automated rocking bassinet that safely rocks and soothes babies to sleep. I (Liz) used it for the first time with my fourth kid, and was amazed at how effective it was at getting my baby to sleep, while also not creating any long term dependencies. And for the record, our Shop editor and twin mama Conz Preti reviewed it and answered the big question: "Is the Snoo worth it?" Spoiler alert: "I wouldn't have been able to survive the newborn phase without it."

4. Reach out to a friend. No, seriously.

We know that quarantine can make reaching out to friends difficult, but if you have a friend or family member who is in your 'pod,' do not be afraid to ask for help for a few weeks so that you can have a bit of space. The conversation goes a little like this: "Hey, I need a little help so I can get some things done at home with the baby. Any chance you'd be able to come over a few times in the next week to get some baby cuddles?" (Um, YES please.)

5. It's okay to cry

When I was pregnant with my first, a colleague shared some words of wisdom that seemed strange to me at the time. She said, "It's okay if you need to get away from your baby or if you're so overwhelmed that you just need to walk away. It's totally fine and normal. Just put the baby in a safe place like a crib and walk away." A few months later I found myself in a moment of postpartum overwhelm, and took her up on that advice—and I'm glad I did. If you're ever feeling particularly frazzled, it is okay to put your little one safely down in the crib and close the door for a bit to take a breather. You'll come back in a few minutes feeling refreshed, and your baby will not be harmed in the least. Promise.

6. Know this is normal

We know your baby doesn't want to be out of your arms right now, and it might help to know this is a totally normal experience many women have. In fact, some researchers believe that babies do not even have an awareness of the fact that they are separate beings from their mothers—so that clinginess is in its own way a sign of your tight bond.

You've got this mama.

Liz + Jill

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