The Fascinating Reason Why Almost All Moms Carry Babies On Their Left Side

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

A mother’s instinct is a truly powerful and beautiful thing.

After all, maternal instincts are one of the most primitive animal parts of us; the basics of parenting haven’t changed in millions and millions of years.

Sure, in the modern era moms might have to worry more about being internet-shamed for breastfeeding, but the fundamental truth behind motherhood — birthing and raising a beautiful baby — is still exactly the same.

In fact, there are some things about motherhood that are so instinctive, we don’t always realize we’re doing them.

Take, for instance, how you hold a baby. When most women pick up a baby, they immediately hoist him onto their left hip.

It’s not that we never use the right hip — plenty of us do, if the other arm is occupied or injured or just a little tired — but for 70-85% of all women, it just feels “off” to carry a baby on the right side.

So what gives? Why do so many women feel more comfortable with the left side? Well, as it turns out, there’s a fascinating scientific explanation.

Baby sleeping on mom's shoulder

When most women pick up a baby, they automatically prop him or her on their left hip. This is true for 70-85% of all women.

At first we assumed it had to do with which hand was dominant, since most people are righties, but that’s actually not the case.

To be sure, having your baby on your left side makes it easier to do more complicated tasks with your right hand, but the real reason for putting the little one on the left has to do with keeping them safe, according to a study from the Journal of  Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Pioneer woman holding baby

Women have always scooped their babies up on the left side because it’s the most effective way to protect the little one.

As you probably know, the right side of your brain controls the left side of your body.

Your right brain is also responsible for dealing more with your “emotional intelligence,” like interacting with other people and processing their emotions.

If your baby is on the left side, that means that your right brain is in tune with the baby’s emotional cues.

Mom with baby in sling

That means, if your baby is crying or fussing or seems hungry or scared, your brain is going to figure it out more quickly, because the right side of the brain is the one on babysitting duty.

It also means that mom and baby bond on a deeper level, because mom is using her emotional side to understand this mysterious little one who can’t communicate in anything other than emotional cues.


Mom carrying baby in the street

In other words, holding your baby on the left side makes mom more likely to notice if her baby is sick or scared quickly, and it also means that mom feels an extra-strong attachment to her child.

Both points add up to the same ultimate theory: babies who were held on the left were probably more likely to survive, which is why the habit is still built into us to this day!

Candid photo of mom and baby

Of course, there’s also a downright adorable reason for our left-side bias.

Not only does it make mothers feel closer and more connected to our babies, it helps babies feel safer and more secure.

That’s because our hearts beat on the left side, so a baby cradled on that side will be able to hear and feel mom’s heart beating.

Baby leans on mom's shoulder

As babies get older and start figuring out words and language, they may also pick your left side to snuggle into all on their own!

That’s because their right ear will be closer to your mouth, which may help them start understanding words more quickly, because their left brain controls both language processing and the right ear. Pretty wild, huh?

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with holding your baby on the right sometimes — it’s a whole lot easier on the back!

But it’s still pretty cool to know where the instinct comes from.

If you agree, make sure to SHARE on Facebook with mamas and grandmamas!