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For the first 3 months, young babies have a limited capacity to self settle
Some signs of self settling/self soothing include:
-Holding their hands together to the center of their body
-Sucking their thumb, fingers
-Covering their face or placing their tiny fists under their chin
-Gaze avoidance when overwhelmed
-Appearing as though "going to sleep" when really, they are tuning out
When we repeatedly cuddle and soothe our babies, were are signalling them a sense of security and safety, so that when they feel and understand the next depth of emotional security, it is then that they are better able to start self soothing. When they are approximately 4 months of age, they are more adapted outside mama's safe and warm belly. It is also when they are clearer at their own place in the world and that their primary carers are indeed those whom keep them safe.
Knowing these facts makes it terribly difficult, when I repeatedly hear new parents being told to stop cuddling their babies for fear of creating bad habits. Parents are so vulnerable and are open to the opinions of others which can be incredilbly helpful, but overwhelmingly undermining as well.
I strongly believe that we all have their best intentions at heart...but parents need to be supported and empowered to find their own way of parenting. They need to be empowered to follow their hearts and trust their own internal instincts.
Please be mindful, that if you tell parents that the are holding their babies "too much" and teaching them "bad habits":
1. You are setting a rod up for the poor parent's backs - which means more sleep deprivation and guilt than they already need
2. Your are creating a space of self doubt to the parent who just wants to hold their baby and keep them from crying
3. I have never met a parent that knows all the answers - most will say that they are "winging it" - we can be supportive by acknowledging and providing physical support...As Ronan Keating sings "You say it best, when you say nothing at all"
To the parents:
Please trust your instincts and hold your baby for as long as you want, as often as you want because - your fears will lessen as the muddy waters become clearer:
1. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but one that is always learning from their children
2. You will not break your child - they are stronger than what you think
3. You are doing an amazing job - you are facing the toughest gig you will ever experience
4. Parenting will always be challenging, just in different ways at different stages
4. You new baby will cry less if you hold them - they need to trust that you will keep them first
5. Your baby will have a healthier long term relationship with you, because he or she knows they can rely on you for anything
3. The "my baby doesn't want to be put down" feeling will last a short while and before you know it, your baby won't want to be held as often and for as long when they discover their ability to walk and explore the world!
Please share this as an affirmation to help others x