Dear Baby TALK Parents,
Congratulations on the birth of your new baby! We at Baby TALK are very happy for you and believe that parenting your child is one of the most important jobs you will ever do. Babies demand much time, energy and patience, but they give back even more in terms of love, joy and satisfaction as you watch them grow and develop.
Almost every parent feels overwhelmed at times from the enormous responsibility of raising a child. Baby TALK understands the challenge that parents face. It is our hope that these regular newsletters you will be receiving from us will be a help to you in your task.
Of all the things you will be giving your baby in the years to come, none will be as important as your relationship with him in determining what kind of life he will enjoy! This attachment started during pregnancy and grows each day that you interact with each other.
Many parents worry about how they will establish this strong relationship with their babies. The good news is that your baby is working as hard as you are to establish this bond. Babies are amazingly programmed to seek out and establish this relationship with their parents. They are born with a number of abilities which are designed to encourage this attachment. A parent's job, therefore, is simply to respond to your baby's signals: holding him when he cries, feeding him when he is hungry, changing him when he is wet, talking and singing to him when he is ready and attuned to you.
You may be interested in reading about the wonderful abilities of infants and about the process of parent-infant attachment. Here is an outstanding book on these topics:
Your Amazing Newborn by Dr. Marshall H. Klaus. Perseus, 2000.
Dr. Klaus provides a new appreciation of the abilities of newborns in this fascinating book. Parents have always believed that their babies were capable individuals. This book provides some convincing evidence. We hope it will "amaze" you as it has us!
THE BABY BLUES
Your baby may be doing a lot of crying at this point. Most babies (85%!) between three weeks and three months of age have some fussy crying each day that is not from hunger or any other cause you can identify. Usually this crying is a way to dispel energy from an overloaded central nervous system. This fussy crying is not your "fault" or the baby's "fault!" You can be assured that your baby is not crying because of anything you are doing wrong.
When your baby cries, try to keep calm. Many babies respond to rocking, riding in a car, being held very closely, being walked, sucking a thumb or pacifier or being swaddled. If those activities don't seem to help, you may want to try this comforting routine to release overloaded energy:
- Pick up your baby.
- Check his diaper.
- Offer a feeding.
- If your baby has not calmed down, lay him down in a safe place and let him cry for 10-15 minutes to "let off steam."
- Pick up your baby.
- Let him have another cycle of letting off steam.
- Repeat this cycle three or four times. Your baby will be more organized and probably sleep better.
It is important to respond to your baby as quickly as possible when he cries. You can't "spoil" a young infant by picking him up when he cries! If you are concerned that your baby's crying seems "excessive," ask your baby's doctor about it.
For some reason, the sense of rhythm seems to comfort infants. Walking, rocking, swaying--all of these rhythmic movements are comforting to babies. In the same way, rhythmic sounds are enjoyed by babies. Why? Perhaps rhythmic language reminds babies of a much-loved sound heard prior to birth: the sound of mother's heartbeat. Babies around the world have enjoyed the sound of nursery rhymes chanted softly by parents and grandparents through the centuries. Nursery rhymes comfort newborns and often coax them to relax. Older babies delight in the playtime they associate with nursery rhymes as you incorporate them into their daily routine:
"Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub" during bath, or
"This little piggy went to market" when dressing.
Mother Goose rhymes are for young children, and bring great delight in their repeating. Do you remember those rhymes from your childhood? Share them with your baby. Get your hands on a good Mother Goose book to trigger your memory. Here are some excellent examples:
- Here Comes Mother Goose, Edited by Iona Opie, illustrated by Rosemary Wells, Candlewick 1999
- Favorite Nursery Rhymes from Mother Goose, Illustrated by Scott Gustafson, Greenwich Workshop Press 2007
- The Neighborhood Mother Goose, Illustrated by Nina Crews, Greenwillow, 2003.
- Tomie dePaola's Mother Goose, Putnam, 1985
- Muu, Moo! Rimas de Animales / Animal Nursery Rhymes, Selected by Alma Flor Ada & F. Isabel Campoy, English versions by Rosalma Zubizarreta, Illustrated by Viví Escrivá, Rayo / Harper Collins, 2010.
- Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes, Illustrated by Salley Mavor, Houghton Mifflin, 2010.
THERE’S A REAL PERSON IN THERE
You are probably noticing that your baby has some quiet times when she seems to "tune in" to you. You can encourage your baby to learn to pay attention and to prolong that attention by talking to her and making eye contact with her during these times. When she pauses from sucking during a feeding, she is really waiting for you to respond to her. These pauses will grow in length as she enjoys this interaction with you.
After tuning in to you or another interesting object for a few moments, you'll notice that your baby will turn away. This is her way of saying that her system is overloaded and the "playtime" is over. In time, she will be able to pay attention for longer and longer periods.
At around two months of age, most babies start smiling their first real social smiles. What a rewarding response! Many babies actually make a brief cooing sound as they attempt to communicate. It is at about this age that you will also notice that your baby responds differently to the different people in his life. He will use his body differently with Mom, with Dad and with other people. He is beginning to differentiate the role each will play in his life, and is already changing his behavior to suit his relationship with each person.
The changes you have been seeing in your baby will continue at an amazing rate in the months to come. You can read another Baby TALK post describing some of these changes in two months when your child is four months old.
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