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1 month old fussy, always wants to be held

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Dear Dr. Laura,
How often should a one month old be awake, alert and happy? My one month old is either asleep, eating, or generally fussy and wanting to be held. Is it "normal" for a one month old to not be able to spend a lot of time on their own "playing" on a play mat or in a bouncy seat?


Dear Lisa,
While there is a range of "normal" behavior for all babies, it is COMPLETELY normal for a one month old to be either asleep, eating, or fussy/wanting to be held. Many developmental specialists refer to the first three months of life as the "Fourth Trimester" meaning that babies are not really quite ready to be born at 9.5 months, but because of their big heads, Mother Nature ushers them into the world a bit early. That means they spend much of the first three months sleeping, eating and fussing if they aren't held.

Unfortunately, we don't have pouches for our infants the way kangaroos do; but slings are invaluable for the first three months. Another great tool to remind your infant of the womb is swaddling. In general, anything you can do to simulate life in the womb will comfort your infant.

Developmentally, one month olds do have short time periods when they can sit in a bouncy seat or lie on a playmat. They explore their extremities, exercise their neck muscles, and generally take in the world. It's terrific to put your baby down to see how she likes relating to the world without your mediation.

But most babies don't like to be put down for long. It's genetically to the advantage of the human species, since babies who are put down in unsafe places are sometimes eaten by wild animals! That's why they fuss if they're not held--they don't feel safe. Gradually, they mature enough to feel safe when they aren't being held. But in the meantime, the more time you "wear" your baby, the less fussy he or she will be.

Don't worry, your baby will soon want to be put down. After all, it's the only way to get to all those breakables across the room. In the meantime, enjoy the fourth trimester, which, after all, is the first one where you first get to see your baby!
Dr. Laura

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