Mums, do you hold your baby to the left? Here’s what studies say
A study reveals why women tend to hold babies closer to their hearts, while men have no such preference.
This fascinating study is as surprising to me as it is to you. In fact, after reading up on this, I immediately asked my eight-year-old daughter to fetch her doll. Amazing as it sounds, my little doll, held hers on her left side. Clearly, there’s some meat to this research (as there is to most researches). However, just the fact that I could try it on my own and see that the revelation is true, was amazing.
So the next time that you are holding a baby, any baby, notice whether you hold your baby left or right. According to this report, science says that most women tend to hold them to their left. Even more interesting is the fact that you need not be a mother for this instinctive action. Of course, men clearly don’t hold this bias for the left.
While there were many theories explaining this bias, ranging from "proximity to mum’s heartbeat and left breast sensitivity", according to this report, recent studies prove that the reasons are more cerebral. Apparently, when you hold your baby left, the right side of your brain lights up, which helps you bond with your baby. Holding them on the left side makes it easier for the brain to process information and react to their needs faster.
According to this research published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, “The position of an infant on the mother’s left side may optimise maternal monitoring, by directing sensory information predominantly to the mother’s right hemisphere.”
Here's how to hold a baby, especially a newborn
While all this is instinctive and most women would just naturally lean towards the left when it comes to holding a baby, there are certain things to watch out for when holding a newborn for the first time; certain dos and don'ts. Here are a few pointers all parents must keep in mind:
- Be comfortable and confident. When about to hold a baby, make sure that you are comfortable to provide that same comfort to the child. Also, be confident before you hold a baby, especially if it’s a newborn and you don’t have much experience carrying them. Choose a seated position if you aren’t too sure.
- Provide sufficient support. Always support a baby’s head and the back of his neck before lifting him. Since it’s only around the third or the fourth month that their neck muscles firm up enough to hold their head, it is critical to provide sufficient support.
- Choose your holding style. Experiment on different positions before narrowing down on the one most comfortable for you,. Before you know it, the baby will also start enjoy being held in that position.
- One of the easiest and comforting holds is the cradle hold. With this hold, you carry the baby horizontally, at your chest level, with his head resting into the crook of your elbow.
- Shoulder hold is the best position for burping a newborn. Carry the baby, parallel to your body, with their head resting on your shoulder.
- The belly hold is quite comforting for babies with colic, especially when they are in pain. Lay your baby, tummy-side down, across your forearm with the head towards the elbow and the legs resting on either side of your hand. This puts slight pressure on the baby’s stomach, helping him release the gas.
- Never multitask. If you are holding a baby, avoid doing chores alongside. Something seemingly harmless like a hot cup of tea might prove dangerous if you happen to spill it.
As a new parent, to hold your baby is perhaps the most joyous things. However, it is intimidating as well (it certainly was for me). I hope these tips help you hold your baby that much closer.