'You can't hold your baby too much': Sleep expert debunks common newborn myth

If you’re a parent to a newborn baby, you’ve probably been told by a distant relative or random stranger that you shouldn’t cuddle your baby too much because they’ll become too attached.

Good news for those of you who love to snuggle with your baby - who doesn’t? - It turns out that this old wives’ tale is the stuff of fiction.

There’s no limit to how much you can hold your newborn baby, baby sleep expert, Sarah Ockwell-Smith explains.

In fact, the more the better.

You can snuggle with your baby as much as you like. (Getty Images)
You can snuggle with your baby as much as you like. (Getty Images)

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On Yahoo UK’s The Baby Bump with Lauren Pope, Ockwell-Smith debunked some of the most common parenting myths, helping parents to tune out some of the opinions they might get in the newborn phase.

During the question and answer portion of the new series, one new mum asked if you can ever hug your baby too much, starting them off with bad sleep habits.

“Never. Honestly, never. There is so much research that shows that the more you hug your baby the more oxytocin you and they secrete and actually, the bigger their brain grows.

“There’s actual evidence showing that the more a baby is hugged, the better their brain develops,” Ockwell-Smith explains.

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She continues: “There’s a particular area of the brain that’s responsible for emotional regulation and there’s research that shows that lots of cuddles grows that area to be significantly bigger so they have a greater ability to self-soothe and be independent as they grow.

“For the easiest time for you when they’re older, just cuddle the heck out of them now.”

Like many of us, Pope, who is 33 weeks pregnant, didn’t realise this little known fact.

“Everyone has an opinion, don’t they?” Pope said, speaking about how some people can negatively impact the behaviour of new parents.

After all, the term “mum guilt” originated from somewhere.

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What about if you have a baby that doesn’t really like being hugged, as many of us do?

It’s perfectly normal and you don’t have to force hugs upon them, Ockwell-Smith clarifies.

“If you have a baby who doesn’t like to be hugged that much and who actually goes to sleep better if you just put them down, don’t think I’m saying that’s wrong.

“The key is to be responsive to your baby. So, if you have a baby that needs lots of cuddles, cuddle them. If you have a baby who prefers to go to sleep out of arms, absolutely respect that and just put them down.”