There's A Scientific Reason You Hold Your Baby On Your Left Hip

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via Shutterstock

This makes total sense

Every mom has their “strong arm,” aka, the baby-holding arm. However, most of use the same side to hold our kids — on the left. As it turns out, there’s more than lefty-righty favoring issues at play here, and the urge to choose one side over the other has scientific reasons.

Research tells us that between 70 and 85 percent of moms prefer holding their baby on their left side, with the bias showing as early as pre-school age when little girls favor their left side when holding baby dolls. Researchers Victoria J. Bourne and Brenda K. Todd note that moms probably assume this is because they need their right hand free, as most people are right-handed. But science turns that notion on its head, as the majority of left-handed moms in the study still held their babies on their left side.

Now, for the science-y part. A study in the journal Brain and Cognition tells us that our preference for the left side has to do with how our brains send signals. Freaky, right? The right side of the human brain receives signals from the left side of our bodies, and the right side of the brain is the part that handles our focus, our ability to translate social cues and to build relationships. So if we keep our babies on the left, we’re helping our right brain to shore up that motherly bond by being able to observe our children on the correct side.

The researchers also found that kids seem to prefer their mother’s left side, and science has reasons for that too. It keeps baby closer to your heart, which can have a calming effect, helping to regulate their heartbeat too. Think of all the times your little one has come running to you and notice that they often cling to your left side. Also, if you hold your baby on the left, their right ear is near your mouth, and the left side of the brain that translates info from the right side of the body is responsible for building language.

Pretty interesting stuff.

For dads, the left-side bias shows too, but not until they have kids. Unlike women who show the preference as small children, it doesn’t happen for dudes until they’re actually taking care of a baby. Like it or not, women appear to be literally born with a nurturing instinct that men have to foster once they become fathers.

If you’re like me and favor holding babies on your right side, it doesn’t make you a freak of nature. Just unique, apparently. However, there’s research to suggest that those who prefer their left side have better relationships with their own parents while right-sided holders tend to be more anxious about pregnancy and parenting. Which for me, at least when my kids were super little, was accurate.

That said, while these things are fascinating to learn about, it doesn’t amount to much when it comes to what kinds of parents we are. It’s nice to know that Mother Nature is looking out and trying to make our brains and bodies jive, but just because I’m a right-side holder for life doesn’t mean I’m not in tune with my kids and their needs.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sling my tween over my left hip to see if it helps her obey my commands to clean her room.

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