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Ask the Expert: Do what comes naturally when it comes to soothing baby

Of course you should cuddle your baby when they need soothing – millions of years of evolution will back you up

Q: "My first baby is six weeks old and everyone tells me I have to get her into a routine and not always pick her up when she's unsettled. But when she cries, even after a good feed and sleep, I end up cuddling her. Is this the right thing to do?"

A. Midwife Rachel Fitz-Desorgher, author of Your Baby Skin To Skin (White Ladder Press), says: "To start with, well done for listening to your baby and maternal instincts rather than well-meaning people and their lousy memories.

"In the first three months of life, babies can't easily regulate their breathing, heartbeat, temperature or reflexes, nor fight infection without help. All these things settle when a baby is cuddled, and more so when she suckles. Through millions of years of evolution, babies that cried every time they were put down were gathered up, kept warm and soothed, and survived.

Young babies can't easily regulate their breathing, heartbeat, temperature or reflexes – all these things settle when a baby is cuddled

"Trying to 'cure' your baby of being a baby will end in failure. Every time you stop soothing her, she'll become agitated. If you remove the strategies that keep her safe, evolution will shout loudly, 'What are you doing? This is dangerous! Pick her up!'

"Yes, it's hard work soothing your baby again and again, but once you know that this baby behaviour has millions of years of protective evolution behind it, it can seem a whole heap easier. It's when we think we're doing something wrong, or that we need to find a cure, that we exhaust ourselves with worry and guilt."

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