Why Some Babies Do Not Like To Snuggle (When To Worry)

| Reviewed By Amanda Lundberg, BSN, RN

Whenever your baby’s behavior defies the norms presented to you by other parent-and-baby relationships in your life or on social media, it’s perfectly natural to worry and assume that there must be something wrong with either your parenting style or your child.

However, like many behavioral traits, there are multiple reasons why your baby may prefer not to snuggle, and it rarely spells something troubling.

Why does my baby not like to snuggle? Some babies do not like the restricted sensation cuddling brings and feel physically uncomfortable, while others may prefer to be active or can be slow to develop affectionate behaviors. In some cases, rejecting cuddles may be a sign of developmental issues when accompanied by other symptoms.

Try not to feel too discouraged if your little one isn’t quite as receptive to snuggle time as you’d hoped they would be as there are so many ways to bond with them.

A dislike of snuggling is not a rejection of you after all, but rather it points to your child’s unique development style, personality, comfort, and many other factors.

Let’s explore the common reasons why your baby may not be a fan of cuddle time and when their behavior is something to be concerned about.

Why Some Babies Do Not Like To Snuggle

There are several reasons why some babies aren’t always keen to snuggle up with you, and most of them are not a cause for concern. Let’s look into some of the possible explanations for this behavior.

1. Prefer To Be Active

Some babies simply love to interact with their environment and crave stimulation through movement, which unfortunately puts cuddle time with mom and dad on the back burner.

The upside to this, though, is that an active baby often equals a very happy and healthy one!

According to the PBC Expo (Pregnancy, Baby, and Children), “early movement has a profound impact on a baby’s brain growth and neurological organization, influencing how well they behave, read, and learn, as well as stimulating emotional growth”.

In short, don’t feel rejected if they want a little extra time engaging in tummy play on a mat or song/rhyme time — you are helping them grow into smart, happy individuals.

2. Naturally Not as Affectionate as Others

It’s helpful to remember that every child is unique, so just because they do not express or receive affection with the intensity we might expect, this does not mean they are incapable of doing so.

(Don’t we all have that one friend/family member who prefers a handshake over a hug? We’re all different!)

3. Slower To Develop Feelings of Affection

In the same way that some children start talking later than others, some babies are slower to develop affectionate behaviors and feelings compared to others.

Dr. Sam Hay at Kid Spot shares that “affection is something that develops at different rates for babies.”

4. Rejection Due to Jealousy

Sometimes there can be an emotional reason for the lack of cuddling. The arrival of a new family member, perhaps, may lead to babies rejecting physical contact.

This behavior is often temporary and resolved by devoting moments of exclusive attention to the child.

5. Hypersensitivity To Being Touched

Your child could be experiencing Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD, which often manifests in disliking diaper changes, changing into new clothes, and even being cuddled or swaddled for long periods.

Many symptoms accompany SPD besides touch sensitivity, so consult this checklist for clarity.

6. Too Warm

Temperature plays a big role in overstimulation for babies, according to Healthline, so rejecting snuggle time can simply be a case of feeling uncomfortably warm.

Sleep consultants Fern and Dawn at The Big Sleep Co. recommend “placing a muslin between you and baby to avoid becoming too hot and sticky” or “laying down next to them on a flat, firm surface and rubbing their back.”

7. Developmental Issue

A lack of affection can sometimes hint at a developmental issue.

In addition to Sensory Processing Disorder as mentioned above, persistent rejection of cuddles could be linked to delayed language skills, hyperactivity, and delayed movement skills.

These are caused by differences in the brain and simply mean that your child responds to attention (and therefore affection), play, and learning differently.

Disliking snuggles is only one aspect of these developmental disorders though, so it’s important to speak to a pediatrician about your concerns.

A young mother holds her crying baby near a sunny window.

At What Age Do Babies Start Cuddling?

Generally, babies aged from “six to twelve months will start showing reciprocal displays of affection, and that progresses more after twelve months” according to Dr. Sam Hay.

However, some children may not communicate physically until they become more vocal and start walking (up to 18 months), as Laura Aubusson can attest to with her daughter.

Baby Pushes Away When Held

Pushing away can indicate stress, discomfort, or preferring to be free, and it can sometimes be linked to infant reflux, according to The Parenting Passageway.

If your baby pushes away when they’re in your hold, there are other forms of affection you can share with them.

Child psychologist Penelope Leach, Ph.D. at Baby Center recommends waiting until your baby is “occupied in their stroller or high chair or during a diaper change so they can accept your loving caresses without feeling trapped.”

Is Lack of Affection a Sign of Autism?

On its own, a lack of affection is not necessarily a sign of autism as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) considers all aspects of your child’s communication and how they relate to the world.

Common signs of autism in babies are things like:

  • A decline in eye contact
  • Little gesturing or pointing
  • Little to no response to their name
  • Delayed speech
  • Displaying less emotion in facial expressions
  • Regression (losing the skills they acquired at an earlier stage)

When To Be Concerned

If a child’s disinterest in snuggles persists beyond the age of 12 months, parents should then begin looking out for other symptoms, such as poor eye contact, delayed speech, etc., to determine whether or not this could be an issue.

When expected developmental milestones are delayed in your child or your baby stops doing the things they used to do, this is usually a good time to speak with their doctor.

Related Questions:

Do Babies Like Kisses?

Yes, many babies love the interaction and affection that kissing brings as it plays an important role in communication and social development.

If babies don’t like kisses, they make it clear by crying or pulling away, and this could stem from a previous unpleasant encounter like a scratchy beard or bad breath.

When Do Babies Give Hugs and Kisses?

According to Parents, babies may begin to give voluntarily hugs and kisses between the ages of 16 and 18 months, though this can be earlier or later for some children.

It’s around this age that children wish to assert their independence while simultaneously reaching for your reassurance and affection.

Closing Thoughts

There are many reasons why your baby may not like to snuggle with you, and a key takeaway from this is that an infant who does like to cuddle is not something a parent should take personally.

As Penelope Leach, Ph.D. puts it: “It’s not you or your physical affection that he/she rejects – it’s feeling trapped.”

A lack of affection can become a cause for concern when accompanied by other developmental issues such as poor eye contact, slow speech, and any other delayed or absent milestones, so it’s important to speak to a doctor if you notice and are concerned by any of these persistent symptoms.