I’ve spent, and still spend, a lot of time holding a baby. My three children go almost everywhere with me so if one goes to the doctor, we all go. We go and sit in the waiting room and then I’m still holding him in the exam room, because gross- no way I’m putting him on that floor. If I’m learning a new song with the trio at church, I usually have the baby on my hip. When we go to Toddler Time, I’m holding the baby for the stories.
During a conversation with a friend last week I realized that I have a technique for teaching my babies to sit on my lap, mostly happily. I happened upon this by accident with my first and then kept it up with the next two because it’s part of our family culture if you will.
Read to them. If you have one child sit him on your lap and read a story even if he’s too young to know what’s going on. Snuggle, kiss him on the head, laugh, let him explore the book. But here’s the secret, don’t let him down until the story is over.
If she wants down, say “No, no, sit with mama,” kiss her again, and keep reading. Then say “yay” and give a high five at the end of the story. You tell her when she’s getting down instead of her telling you. Gradually you will be able to read longer and longer. You’re developing readers; you’re teaching your kids to stick with something to the end; and when you say “no, no, sit with mama” she’ll learn to snuggle right into you. (Also gradually read longer and longer.)
With my second and third babies I would read to the older while I nursed the baby. (Nothing makes my blood pressure skyrocket like certain irritations during nursing. Hormones much? Everybody sitting solved that problem too.) And then when the baby was finished eating I would let him snuggle and read a few stories with us. Obviously these were above his reading level so sometimes I would find a shorter stopping place for the baby.
Make it something fun and rewarding. Snuggle, kiss the baby, laugh, enjoy the story. Make sitting with you pleasant and it will be something he enjoys. Give him his favorite blanket or cup or toy. Let him turn the pages. Point out fun illustrations to him.
Do this regularly. Practice, practice, practice. If the baby fusses through it (and I mean 10 months old, not two, ok?) fuss through it. You’ll both survive. And then when you’re at the doctor’s office with three children your fifteen-month-old will sit on your lap or your hip while you are waiting for your five-year-old to be seen.
Books. Time. Laps. It’ll work, friends.