As a new mom, it can be really hard to watch someone else holding your baby. For some, it can even raise severe sensations of anxiety.
“Separation anxiety” is frequently applied as a negative label, as a personal problem both mom and baby need to overcome, but in truth, it is completely normal and you don’t have to feel guilty about it.
Your baby has been a part of you for almost a year, and now that they’re out in the world, the bond you share is stronger than ever. Losing physical contact with your baby feels unnatural. It’s supposed to!
Having a new baby around the holidays means loads of people will be wanting to hold your adorable little nugget. And while it can be so hard to hand your baby over to anyone else, it can be so nice to have your hands free for a little while to enjoy a meal or just take a break.
Eventually, though, you start to want your baby back, and it can be awkward to ask for your baby when you can tell others are so thoroughly enjoying your newborn. During the first year, I’d always feel guilty for reclaiming my baby, wondering if I was stepping on toes or hurting anyone’s feelings. So to help you avoid similar discomfort, I’ve come up with 9 ways to get your baby back into your arms no matter the situation.
9 Ways to Politely Ask for Your Baby
When is it appropriate to ask for your baby back?
First of all, you should never feel ashamed or guilty to ask for your baby back. The desire to be with your baby every single moment is both natural and healthy. Regardless of whether you’re uncomfortable with the person holding your baby, or you yourself are feeling anxious at the separation (or both), you are 100% within your rights to take your baby.
But, while no one should give you a hard time about wanting to stay close to your baby, you might need to take a few deep breaths and resist the urge once in a while to jump in a rescue your baby after 97 seconds. Letting your baby be comforted in unique ways is not a bad thing, and while someone else won’t know your baby’s likes and dislikes the way you do, it can be a good exercise for your baby to be handled a little differently.
Some of the times you should intervene and take your baby back are:
- If you’re concerned for your baby’s safety/wellbeing;
- If your baby’s cues are escalating;
- If your baby is starting to root for food (don’t want to wait too long and end up with a hangry baby);
- If your baby is overstimulated and needs a break;
- Whenever you want to for any reason.
Remember that most of the tension or awkwardness you feel about asking for your baby back is all in your head! Most people understand the shared need between mother and baby to stay close to each other, and will admire you for being such a good little mama. If not, they can get over themselves.
If you want to take your baby, but stay in the room
1. “I’m going to take her back now.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being direct. Nobody should get their feelings hurt by this, and if they do, it’s not by any fault of yours. It’s your dang baby! If you want him back, you can say so! However, I also completely get it if being direct can feel confrontational to you, and you’d prefer a more roundabout way of doing things. I was always worried someone would think I didn’t trust them with my baby, or that I was being selfish if I demanded my baby back too soon.
2. “Thank you for letting me have my hands free for a while! I can take her back from you now.”
Gratitude can help diffuse the tension of asking for your baby back, especially if you don’t want to send the wrong message (like you don’t trust them to hold your baby). Be advised, though, being too gentle could backfire. You might say, “Thanks, I can take her now,” and they respond, “Oh, no, I’m find holding her for a while more! You enjoy having your hands free for a bit.” If you try too hard to be non-confrontational, don’t be surprised if you’re left in a more awkward position than you would have been in the first place.
3. “You two are so sweet together! Do you mind if we give [so-and-so] a turn?”
This won’t get your baby back right away, but it can serve to get your baby away from someone else. If you aren’t comfortable with the person holding your baby for whatever reason, you might just want to offer someone else the chance instead. Then you get your hands free a little longer, and you can put your mind at ease.
If you want to take your baby and escape for a while
When you are at a gathering with friends and family, an event, or what-have-you, it is entirely legitimate to escape to quiet solitude for a while if either you or Baby needs a break. I have yet to meet someone who is not perfectly happy to share their guest room to give you a little privacy, but even if you’re not in someone’s home, there’s almost always somewhere you can retreat to. Don’t feel bad about leaving the party, whether it’s to nurse/feed, nap, or just unwind a little bit.
Even the most social person can encounter new levels of introversion and stress after becoming a new mom. Besides that, a baby who has been accustomed to the quiet and dark of a womb can get easily overstimulated. Do not be afraid to claim some time to yourselves. Here are a few ways to nab your baby and escape:
4. “He looks like he’s getting hungry”/”He looks like he’s ready to nurse.”
Of course, if you want to nurse in the middle of things, you should be able to confidently and comfortably do so. But, I found that my baby fed much better if I took her into another, quieter room as she was easily distracted when there was a lot going on. It’s the PERFECT excuse to both get your baby back and leave, especially if you’re breastfeeding. You play the trump card: boobs! No one can replace you there. Plus, you get a few uninterrupted minutes to relax and share some oxytocin.
5. “I haven’t checked her diaper in a while; I’m going to take her for a diaper change.”
So maybe you don’t need a two hour nap with baby, but you want a break from the fray for a few minutes. Do you…smell something? It’s diaper time! Most people are more than happy to release the baby back to you for diaper duty. For dramatic effect, you can even sniff the air and “pee-ew” a little bit.
6. “He’s getting a bit over stimulated. I’m going to take him into the other room for a little break.”
Again, there’s nothing wrong with good old honesty. No one knows your baby like you do, and since Baby can’t yet advocate for herself, it’s your job to make sure she gets what she needs. Being overstimulated is just as legitimate as having a poopy diaper or an empty tummy. And she’ll be much more pleasant to share once she’s had a little time to relax, calm down, and maybe even rest.
7. “She’s getting pretty tired. I’m going to try to put her down for a nap.”
If your baby will fall asleep right in the middle of activity, awesome. But if your baby is like mine, she’ll fight sleep like her life depends on it as long as she thinks exciting things are going on around her. Perhaps a calm, quiet space is the only way your baby will get a much needed nap. Or maybe you’re the one that needs a nap. You can definitely use the baby as your excuse to snooze a bit yourself. After all, you wouldn’t want to leave Baby to nap alone, unattended, in an unfamiliar place, would you….? *wink, wink*
If you want to take your baby, but feel you should give the person a little longer
8. “She doesn’t usually like to be held that way. Let me help you readjust her.”
Maybe you really want to give someone an opportunity to enjoy your baby, but you know your baby is not enjoying that person. Feel free to offer a little help! They don’t know your baby inside and out the way you do. And they should appreciate your assistance if it gets Baby to stop squirming and fussing for a while. Alternatively, if a child is holding your baby and it’s making you cringe, you should not feel bad one bit about making sure your baby is safe and comfortable.
9. “Would you like to give him a bottle?”
This puts a pretty predictable timeline on things. Once the hourglass–I mean baby bottle–runs out (or Baby decides he’s done) come back to retrieve him for burping. “Here, let me burp him. He has to be held just-so.” “This kid’s a marathoner–it could be half an hour before he burps for me,” “He’s been spitting up pretty regularly of late. I wouldn’t want to soil your outfit (no, a burpcloth doesn’t really help since he doesn’t feel the need to aim for it).”
If you don’t think they’ll give your baby back when you ask
Bonus strategy: If you’re particularly uncomfortable asking someone to give your baby back, or you don’t think they’ll easily respect your request, you can always send your husband to do the dirty work. He can work his masculine charm and gently inform them that mama is missing her baby. He gets to be the hero, and you don’t even have to lift a finger.
Final Thoughts on Getting Your Baby Back
When it comes down to it, your baby is the top priority, not other people’s feelings or opinions. If your gut tells you to get your baby back, don’t waste any time or energy worrying about just the right way to do it. You’re well within your rights, no matter what the situation. Everything might be going just hunky-dory, but if you’re feeling strained by the separation, there’s nothing wrong with taking your infant.
Do you feel awkward about asking for your baby back, or does it not bother you at all? Tell me in the comments if you can relate!
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