Have you ever wondered what your child was thinking? Or maybe what she wanted to say but couldn’t? From the time your baby is developing in the womb, she can hear your voice and starts to make connections. You are the lifeline to her nutrition as well as the home that keeps her safe and secure. You provide all of your baby’s basic needs during the nine months leading up to birth. With that kind of dedication, who else could provide your baby’s first and most instrumental attachment?
The healthy development of a baby begins long before conception. Parents should be in good health, themselves, before they conceive. While pregnant, the mother should take appropriate precautions. These might include, but are not limited to:
• eating and drinking nutritiously,
• taking a prenatal vitamin daily,
• getting adequate exercise,
• sleeping consistent hours,
• alleviating stress,
• visiting a doctor regularly,
• postponing unhealthy habits (i.e. smoking, consuming alcohol, doing drugs, etc.).
As your baby grows and develops, her internal systems will mature at an incredible rate. She will start to respond to your voice, to what you eat, to stress you feel, and more. Therefore, it is essential that your first priority be your wellbeing, for it, in turn, also provides the same for your baby.
Whether you feel close to the baby or not, she will feel close to you. Immediately after birth, try to hold her, and encourage the baby’s father to do the same. Speak to her. Sing to her. Rock her gently. Look into her eyes. Caress her. These simple acts will help her to build a strong bond with you, right from the start.
Babies rely on their parents and other caring adults to protect them. They are, indeed, quite helpless for the time being. When your baby cries, go to her. Feed her, hold her, change her diaper, rock her to sleep. Since she cannot do this herself, she will look to you. Simply responding to her basic needs will deepen her attachment to you.
As a baby grows, she learns to be more communicative. It will grow easier for you to determine what she wants and needs. You will be able to identify different cries and understand what her babbling means. She will start to make eye contact with you and look at other people and things, keying you in to where her attention is focused. Talk to her. Ask questions and wait attentively to see if she responds. Narrate your day…that is walk around with her, explaining what you are doing, who people are, where you are going. Many people invest in baby signs classes, a wonderful program that teaches sign language to babies and toddlers, facilitating communication all the more.
Be sure to hold your baby. The sense of touch is something we sometimes take for granted. However, it plays an important role in developing relationships. Healthy touching encourages the baby’s brain to learn about her body. It brings her closer to you and allows her to make necessary connections. It encourages development of healthy circulation, digestion, and other bodily systems. Some parents enroll in classes to learn baby massage. Baby massage has grown quite popular in recent years. It’s fun, easy, good for your baby, and a wonderful way for you to deepen your relationship!
A strong child/parent connection is an essential prerequisite to good socio-emotional health. Your child must feel confident in herself in order to take the risks necessary for growth. Her dependence upon you in the early years will encourage independence as she matures, provided she has positive self-esteem. Your modeling will pave the road for your child to be able to make friends, trust teachers, and interact successfully in other social contexts.
We all know how important socio-emotional health is, but sometimes don’t realize how much of a role we play in this development. As the holiday season nears, take advantage of this time to deepen your relationships with your children. After all, they are only young once!