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Do babies (or mothers) prefer nursing on the left?

When I was nursing my babies, I noticed that both of them preferred to nurse, sleep or cuddle on the left side. I usually preferred holding them on the left too, but I figured that was because I could then use my right hand to do stuff, like surf the internet, grab cookies or get myself a drink of water.

baby on the left

Did you know there is actually a reason for this!? A real, this-is-how-your-brain-works kind of reason! There is!

Holding a baby on your left puts them in your left visual field and on the left side of your body, an area that is only attended to by the right hemisphere of your brain. Your right hemisphere experiences the world as a unique whole, understands people as unique individuals and is primed for connection and social experience, especially the exchange of emotions. It makes sense to put the baby where your “people” brain can see her.

yawn

In addition, putting the baby on your left gives them the best view of the left side of your face, which is also controlled by your right hemisphere, and is more emotionally expressive than the right side of your face (who knew?!). This way the baby can see that you are emotionally responsive and tuned in to her, which works to soothe and reassure her of her safety.

sleeping newborn baby

The left side of your brain specializes in focused attention, goal-oriented behaviour and manipulating things – so while the right brain is connecting emotionally the left brain is busy directing the right hand to nab those cookies! It all makes sense!

Want to find out more? This fascinating tidbit came from Iain McGilchrist’s book The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Emily van Lidth de Jeude February 9, 2014, 8:59 am

    Wow that’s fascinating! I think I had heard of that when Tali was a baby, but completely forgot again. I think this is important to so much in our lives!!
    Nice post.

    • michelle February 15, 2014, 8:11 am

      I’d never heard of it, but I certainly experienced it. It is fascinating!

  • erin February 20, 2014, 10:12 am

    i always nursed on the left (partially a size issue, however slight, if felt “better” or “fuller”, and partially preference. who knew there was science to back that! thanks for sharing. BTW. i’m new here and in the fraser valley, (sort of) not far from you!

    • michelle February 20, 2014, 9:51 pm

      welcome! :)

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