I have seen first hand how totally overwhelmed most new parents are by the volume of decisions they need to make for their baby. These questions begin before their baby is even born – Do we choose a midwife or an obstetrician? Should we circumcise our baby boy? How do we feel about vaccines? How do we chose the best/safest/healthiest gear for our baby?
Once your baby is born, the questions multiply – Do we put the baby on a schedule or respond to her immediately? Start solids with avocado or white rice cereal? Stay home or go back to work? Cry it out? CoSleep? What type of childcare?
It’s a seemingly never ending list!
At the heart of this is confusion and anxiety is every parent’s wish to do the best for their baby. However, it seems the more you read about a topic, the more confused you can become by conflicting advice. I would like to suggest going back to trusting our instincts and understanding we know what is best for our baby. Go with your gut!
As I research topics for workshops or articles for DayOne Baby, I find that after all the data, the core concept of enjoying your baby, talking and reading to them and helping them feel secure, is still the most important concept, no matter the topic.
For example, I recently attended the International Lactation Consultant conference in Washington DC. My favorite lecture was given by an Australian Neonatologist, Dr. Howard Chilton, who spoke about “Why Cuddles Matter”. He described how humans are born with only 25% of their brain formed whereas other mammals such as horses, are born with 80% of their brain developed at birth. Research has shown babies “build their brain” by forming neural connections based on their everyday interactions with you and those around him. This happens mostly in the first three years of life.
What kind of interactions does the research show helps babies start off on a good path?
- Babies learn best by face to face interactions
- Observe and experiment by trial and error what works for your baby- do they like peek a boo or does it scare them?
- Help your baby learn how to calm themselves and recognize and regulate their feelings
- Respond lovingly and help your baby feel secure- Understand it is biologically impossible for a baby under one year of age to manipulate.
- Talk, read, sing, cuddle and have fun with your baby
- Point out and label emotions for them- “Are you feeling frustrated because you can’t put the puzzle pieces together?”
- New research shows babies’ brains wire neural connections best when they are laughing!
It seems the more we learn about babies and parenting, the more we realize whatever you do, the everyday way you interact and enjoy your baby, including cuddling, is what is important. There is no one right way to parent.
When you shut out all the noise and conflicting opinions, I believe you know your baby best, so do what feels right to you.
Have you found this to be true? Share in the comments below.