Image of young baby asleep on an adults shoulder. Text reads 'Why itsok for babies and children to do things 'just for comfort'

Why it's okay to do things 'just for comfort'

I often speak to parents who talk about certain baby behaviour being ‘just for comfort’ and they find this frustrating and are looking for ways to help their baby change this behaviour.

It is especially common to hear this phrase when they wake in the night and have a little feed ‘just for comfort’, or immediately fall back to sleep after being picked up and given a little cuddle.

Babies are new to the world, and they have a lot to learn. They’re also totally dependent on their caregivers for everything from food and shelter to co-regulation. That’s why it’s so important for us to be responsive to their needs, even when those needs seem small or insignificant, such as those that are seemingly ‘just for comfort’.

One of the most common needs that babies have is for co-regulation. They may want to be fed, cuddled, rocked, or sung to just to feel safe and loved. And that’s perfectly okay.

Here are a few reasons why it’s important to respond to babies’ needs for comfort:

  • Comfort helps babies to feel safe and secure. Babies come into the world from a warm, cozy womb, and they need to feel safe and secure in order to thrive. When we respond to their needs for comfort, we’re sending them the message that they are loved and protected.
  • Comfort helps babies to learn to trust others. When babies can rely on their caregivers to meet their needs for comfort, they learn to trust that the world is a safe and reliable place. This trust is essential for healthy social and emotional development.
  • Comfort helps babies to reduce stress. Babies are easily overwhelmed by new experiences and stimuli. Comfort can help them to calm down and feel safe, which makes it easier for them to learn and explore.

Of course, it’s important to make sure that babies are also getting their basic needs met, such as hunger, sleep, and nappy changes. But don’t be afraid to comfort your baby just because they need it. It’s one of the best things you can do for them.

Here are a few tips for comforting your baby:

  • Respond promptly to your baby’s cries. Don’t worry about spoiling your baby by responding to their cries too quickly. The more responsive you are, the more secure your baby will feel.
  • Offer a variety of comforting activities. Some babies like to be held and rocked, while others prefer to be sung to or patted. Experiment to find what works best for your baby.
  • Be consistent. The more consistent you are in your response to your baby’s needs, the easier it will be for them to learn to trust you and feel safe.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, don’t be afraid to ask your partner, family, or friends for help. It’s okay to take a break from time to time.

So why does 'just for comfort' feel so frustrating?

I do understand that responding to your baby when there’s not an obvious physical need to be fulfilled can feel frustrating. After all, we like to know the reason why our baby is crying


Maybe we should ask ourselves why it feels hard for me to give myself over to this.

In most cases, it’s because our own needs are not being met. The saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ is so true. If you are giving giving giving, and not getting some emotional and practical support, it’s going to be so hard to carry on indefinitely.

Or growing up, were you told that you should ‘stop crying’ or if you were upset and looked for comfort were you told ‘Why are you upset about that, it doesn’t matter?’. If this rings true, it makes sense that giving comfort without bias or prejudice doesn’t come naturally. 

How can we reframe it?

Isn’t the very purpose of being a parent to provide love and comfort?

Rather than trying to stop your baby’s need for comfort, or looking at it as something to be changed, can you embrace it?

Look at it as your super power?

Perhaps we should ask why we feel doing things ’just for comfort’ is bad?

How have we become so programmed into prioritising independence that we have lost sight of the need for dependence first?

Who do you go to and what do you do ‘just for comfort’?

Can you do it some more?