Baby Brain Building Part 2:  BONDING

Previously, we discussed how the building of a brighter baby brain begins way before birth. A positive and healthy prenatal environment is the best springboard for a smarter baby. But what we do for our babies once they enter the world is equally as significant for their long term success. Unfortunately, new parents can be overwhelmed with their new responsibilities and fall into a “Baby Maintenance Routine” and forget that these first few years are FORMATIVE in many ways!!! Some new parents may establish a set schedule and simply “Go through the motions” as they care for their newborn.

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What a missed opportunity to impact your child for LIFE!!!

The first few years of life are CRITICAL for a baby! So many changes will occur during these early years that will affect how a child thinks and learns later in life. What they eat, how they are cared for, their environment, their daily activities, and most importantly – how they are loved and nurtured- Really matters for their future!

Now for my favorite part…Let’s talk Psychology!

Developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson, studied what he termed “Psycho-social” development throughout lifespan.

Erikson identified the first stage of life as most important for learning how to build TRUST. We all know how important Trust is for healthy adult relationships. Now can you imagine the critical role it plays when you are a newborn, in a strange new world and completely dependent on your primary caregivers?

Erikson stated that trust was established when a caregiver provides warm, responsive, predictable and nurturing care.

 5 Ways to Build STRONGER Emotional Bonds

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1:  Smooth Talkin


When a baby cries, the caregiver should respond in a positive and nurturing way with a soothing voice.

“What’s the matter with my precious little one? Is something hurting you? Maybe you are just hungry or need a diaper change? Let’s see what this precious little baby wants today!” 

Talking to your baby is one of the most important Brain Building Activities you can do. Early communication is all part of a baby’s language and intelligence foundation, AND also builds strong emotional bonds… so what are you waiting for??? Get to CHATTING!

 

2:  Be FLEXIBLE


Some parents approach their parenting role by thinking, “I’m going to show my baby who is boss! I set the rules, I set the feeding times, I am in charge!!”  They don’t respond to their baby’s needs, but instead set rigid eat/sleep schedules that may leave their babies crying themselves to sleep. What these parents don’t realize is that they are also leaving their babies feeling helpless and unable to control and trust their world.

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If you have ever met someone who “receives” life passively and frequently “feels trapped” in bad situations, you’ve met someone who was probably the casualty of RIGID parenting. Don’t let your babies grow up like dandelions, at the mercy of the wind. Teach your baby that they have certain levels of control over their lives and increase their power as they grow. Teach them that their opinion matters and that they can direct their destinies!

 

3:  Be RESPONSIVE


Your baby was born with ONE communication tool at birth: CRYING. This means you must respond to your baby when he/she cries. Ignoring the cries of an infant teaches her that she cannot control her environment and is helpless against her discomfort.

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How would you feel if you repeatedly asked someone that you loved for help, and they ignored you??? EXACTLY!!! You would probably feel Helpless and Frustrated… not the best way to welcome your baby into the world.

Also- Get off your phone!!! I’ve seen many parents miss out on precious quality moments with their babies because they are on their dumb-phones (not so smart ha?). Although I haven’t seen much research yet, we don’t need a scholarly journal to tell us that ignoring a baby because you are preoccupied with Facebook, CANNOT possibly be good for their development!

 

4:  Be extra TOUCHY


Another powerful way to build strong emotional bonds and stimulate the brain is to TOUCH your baby often. If our babies could talk, they would say… “Give me some SKIN Mama!” The Skin is the largest organ on the human body. Skin receptors are linked to our brain, therefore massaging and caressing your baby are great ways to stimulate your baby’s brain and build lasting attachment bonds. This is also one more reason to BREASTFEED!!!!

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There is NO SPOILING of a newborn. You MUST be as responsive as possible in a positive and loving way. Remember that babies love human touch and interaction… so speak softly to them, make eye contact, say their name, and caress their skin. Some parents constantly keep their babies in their carriers, bouncers, or swaddled in blankets, all of which will keep them from getting the sensory stimulation they need. This can limit their cognitive, physical, and emotional development. SKIN-to-SKIN contact is essential… and don’t forget the tummy-time!

 

5:  Finally, be PREDICTABLE


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If you are dropping off baby at the sitters, TELL your baby, “Daddy is leaving and I will be back later”… YES, even if she screams when you hand her over to the sitter! Make sure you tell baby what is happening so she can learn to TRUST you. You want her to know that although daddy’s going Bye-bye for a while, he can be counted on to return. Prove yourself to be a reliable and dependable caregiver to teach your baby that the world can be trusted.

So many Americans struggle nowadays with anxiety, fear and trust issues… unfortunately much of it can be accounted for by our early experiences in life.

Erikson identified the lack of trust as MISTRUST.

Surely you don’t want your baby to enter the toddler years distrustful of the world around her! We must do everything to build confident babies that feel secure in their surroundings. Be extra careful to not pass on any of your own anxieties or fears onto your babies as they can be behaviorally contagious! Encourage your babies to explore, as you supervise their discoveries. Most importantly… cuddle with them, kiss them, and LOVE them incessantly.
Leave comments, feedback or success stories below!

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8 Comments

  1. what an awesome post! While I do not have any small children – I have one teenager, and one child who just turned 19 (yikes), I always found early, early childhood education, and bonding fascinating. I homeschooled both of my kids (after the method of the Institute of Human Potential – their well-children program). I love how you ended the post – how cool!

    • Hi Claudia, You are my first name twin on our site, so WELCOME!!! It is such a fascinating topic isn’t it? Now you were blessed with a privilege that I longed for when my kids were younger… that of HOMESCHOOLING! Homeschooling provides so much additional quality time with your children, it is definitely one of the best things you can do to bond with your kids. So glad you enjoyed reading the post. Please check back soon for more articles on parenting. Let us know if there is a particular topic you would like for me to address.

    • Hi Helen, Thank you for the encouragement. We are glad that you enjoyed the post. Hope you will visit us again soon for more parenting articles!

  2. I’m surprised the TRUST fall isn’t on this list! Just kidding – But seriously great article. I think there are a lot of parents out there that see their baby as more of an annoyance. They go I can’t wait til they grow up so I don’t have to deal with this. But even though the baby can’t speak yet he/she is soaking up this extremely negative viewpoint you have on him/her. If you have this viewpoint about your baby then there is no way you can build trust no matter how hard you try.

    • Hi Matt, I think it’s all part of how we start out with our kids. If a couple isn’t ready for a baby, then they may take this position. Our life stages are interesting, but young adulthood is one of the most challenging stages of all. Many young people are still very self-centered and not ready to switch their focus to someone else, much less a screamy, poopy, sickly, bundle of joy. Babies are supposed to take our focus away from ourselves and help us consider another being. Some young parents struggle with this more than others. I was a very young mother, but I always tried to be responsive to my baby since the beginning. I also had friends who had babies, but they weren’t able to give up their self-centered lives. Lots of them simply went about their lives as usual, allowing their mothers or even grandmothers to take care of their newborn babies. Definitely a good question to ask the SELF: Am I ready to give up my self-centered life? Thanks for your feedback! Come back and visit us soon!

  3. Great post! I think it’s often under rated how important it really is to lovingly nurture thw child through the methods you listed. Admittedly i didn’t even think of touch as inportant as it is for your own baby. Thanks for another great article!

    • Hi Sam, Thanks for the encouraging words! Yes, touch is very powerful. Think of the role it plays even between adults… isn’t it amazing? Sometimes just a passing brush from someone’s hands can trigger all kinds of thoughts. Researchers are exploring what they call the power of our first language… TOUCH. Although we are primarily a society that doesn’t encourage touching, we are very able to read the message it is sending. Touching our babies frequently will stimulate their brains and help to socialize them, so it’s great all around. Thanks for visiting again! Check back often for more recipes and articles and let us know if there’s some topic you would like for me to address.

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