My two-month-old has no problem sleeping alone in her bassinet at night, but the only way she’ll nap during the day is in my arms or in my lap. Am I setting up a bad habit by allowing this, and will she grow out of it?
You are not setting up a bad habit by letting your baby sleep in your arms or on your lap. In fact, you are creating a good habit.
Many kids ago, we learned that babies have an inborn ability to communicate their needs to their caregivers. It’s up to parents to learn how to listen. If during the day your baby will only nap in your arms or on your lap, but sleeps well alone at night let sleeping baby be. If you try to change a baby’s daytime sleeping habits, you may wind up with a nightwaker. In fact, most parents can handle any snooze habits during the day as long as their baby sleeps well at night.
It’s often difficult for parents to discern whether their baby is communicating a need or merely a preference. But after thirty years of parenting eight children, we’ve learned that it’s best to consider any cue a baby gives during the first few months as a need and to respond accordingly. Don’t worry that you may be spoiling your infant or that she is manipulating you. This type of thinking will only create a distance between you and your baby and lessen your natural ability to read and respond to her cues. Besides, most mothers of two-month-olds need daytime naps themselves. When our babies went through this in-arms stage, Martha would simply pick out several times during the day when she was most tired and lie down with the baby so that they could nap together. In this way, the baby’s need was translated into a restful habit for Martha – a pleasure she would not have indulged if baby had not requested it.
It’s easy for mothers to let themselves fall into the trap of “getting something done” while baby sleeps. Instead, we urge you to enjoy these special cuddle times while they last. Eventually, your baby will outgrow her naptime cuddling need and you may long for the days when she wanted you to hold her more. Have you ever heard of a parent who looked back and wished they had held their baby less? We haven’t! Most of us wish we had held our children more.