From the time of conception, your baby is learning, growing, and adapting. By the time your baby is born he or she has the most brain cells they will ever have. They are a survivor. They were the fittest match of egg and sperm to form the baby. The process of fertilization, cell duplication, and the entire birthing process shows the baby was able to endure a lot. Now that they are born, they struggle does not get easier. Neither does the struggle for you to be the best parent you can become and to help that baby become a success.
In this article I will provide information about what you should be doing and what you should expect from your baby. This is the first in a series of articles that I call Raising Adults. You are not raising children. You do not want your child to keep being a child (well some parents might say their children are growing up too fast) but you want your child to grow to become a valuable part of society. Even if your life has not taken you where you want to, you want better for your child. This article will provide you with some valuable information. Please remember that since none of us are exactly alike, this is just general information about what research should expect. This should not be a substitute for the valuable information you can receive from your doctor and/or developmental specialist. You along with them know your child better than I do, sitting in front of a computer screen, many miles away.
Babies learn quickly. You will no doubt learn this yourself. One day you will be holding the newborn infant in your arms and it seems like the next moment they are walking. The first year passes so fast because the baby is making so much progress. Things are moving faster. Psychologically speaking, it is moving fast for you too. You have a big responsibility taking care of this baby, even if it is not your first child.
Erik Erickson is a psychologist who developed the Psychosocial Stages of development. There are 8 stages of development and there are two outcomes at each stage. One is considered to be prosocial or good. It is the requirement for the person to become a healthy and viable part of society. The other outcome is a failure and will result in a struggle for the individual. We do not want the person to struggle throughout life. It is hard enough as it is.
Erikson claimed that the individual develops on three levels simultaneously: Biological, social and psychological. With that being said, this article will tell aspects that you should be looking for in those three areas.
During this time your main concerns are to be nurturing, providing a safe environment, and enriching the learning process of the baby. I this is a time when the child is learning to trust others. You are the one who is providing the information to determine if your child will be able to trust the world.
Erickson’s first stage is from birth to one year old. He termed this stage Trust versus Mistrust. If the child receives consistent, reliable, and predictable care from his caregiver he will be able to will be able use that in his future relationships, whether it be education, work, or personal relationships. If he does not get the trusting care he needs this will not happen. He will carry mistrust into all relationships. It may result in anxiety, insecurities, and a feeling of mistrust in the world around them.
So what can you do?
So what can you do to help develop this trust? What should you be looking out for during this time to make sure your child is developing right? What can you do, as a parent, to foster growth?
First, you must respond to feeding, diaper changes, and cries. A lot of the time the crying is for feeding and diaper changing. Parents report to me they learn to tell the distinct cries for these activities and also for the cry for attention. Responding to all these cries will develop a sense of trust.
You should baby proof everything in your home. “But Dr. Cunningham, my child is only an infant.” Yes but remember how we said they grow fast. One day they are just turning over the next day they could be crawling. Do it now and it will be much easier, when you are not chasing them around the kitchen. Put paints, chemicals, medications, and any other potentially danger substance out of their reach
Provide things for your baby to play with that are interesting. Remember that people have five senses and you should provide things for the baby to play with that stimulates all the sense. Parents do not want babies sticking things in their mouth, but remember that is a valuable way for all people to learn about objects.
Most babies will eventually settle into a routine or schedule. If you pay attention you will be able to realize when they are hunger, when they need diaper changes, and when they are sleepy and needing to rest.
When you are feeding your baby you should hold them close and cuddle some. This is a given if you are breast feeding, but you should also do it when you are bottle feeding. On that same note, even when you are not feeding them, hold them close to your body and put your arms around them. This lets them know they are safe, because they feel your warmth, can smell you, and hear your heartbeat.
All parents do what I call “parentese.” This is the change in voice adding a lilt and talking in strange words that no one else could understand and no one else would do except to a baby. This is okay to do a little bit, but remember the baby is starting to learn recognize sounds and you should want them to recognize sounds that are progressive to language. Talk to your baby quite a bit in normal everyday language. You can do some “sing-song” types of talk with them.
Read to your baby. I know they will not understand what is being read, but again they hear the words. I remember one episode of M.A.S.H., Col. Potter was reading to the Korean kids and they were really enjoying his reading, even though they did not understand English. He was reading an Army Field manual to them. They would not have enjoyed the material, but they loved the attention he provided.
Play games and interact with your child. Hold them up and look at them in the face. Help them learn to make eye contact. Have them look at your when you smile, when your frown, and when you talk. This will help them recognized some of the non verbal expressions people make during social interactions.
Give your baby the freedom to move around. Some cultures say wrap the baby up in swaddling clothe and there is a time for that when they are young and asleep. However
This article is intended to give you some insight into the development of trust in the baby’s first year of life. This is the first article in a planned series of articles about baby development. Please stay tuned for more to come. Take care of yourself and others. Make today and everyday a great day.
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