Chapter Ten

                         Along Comes Baby

Consider some of the noble characteristics of infancy:

  • The ability to live in the present
  • The ability to love
  • The ability to communicate nonverbally
  • Physical beauty
  • Fearlessness
  • Spontaneity
  • Their ability to live from their center
  • The ability to forgive effortlessly

There are many reasons to admire your babies.

A.M. Joosten says that besides admiring them, we can also recognize, according to Dr. Maria Montessori,
“that (0-6 years) is the time when man’s intelligence…is being formed…But not only his intelligence; the
full totality of his psychic powers…At no other age has the child greater need of intelligent help, and any
obstacle that impedes his creative work will lessen the chance he has of achieving perfection.”

It is time to take to heart the teachings of people wise in the ways of human development, such as Virginia
Satir: “New parents have much that is new to learn. For instance, many adults are ignorant of how
emotions affect behavior and intelligence. Somehow or other we have been a long time seeing that
knowledge is an important tool for peoplemaking. We see it in the raising of pigs, but not so much with
people. In some ways we got the idea that raising families was all instinct and intent, and we behave as if
anyone could be an effective parent simply because he wanted to be, or because we just happened to go
through the acts of conception and birth. This is the most complicated job in the world and most of us act
as if we can all be great parents simply by going through the motions and taking a label. I often think of
the terrible burden so many parents carry. They are expected to be experts, and they are not, even
though some may act like it, (but are inwardly not really sure).”

To put it bluntly, as was done in the movie Parenthood, “You have to have a license to have a dog…you
even have to have a license to catch a fish! But any *#@! can be a father!”

                                  Respecting The Newborn

A newborn is a very unique being. During the first ten days, those I have held radiated such wondrous
energy that I felt I was touching a saint.

For a gentle, smooth transition, during the first ten days or so of the newborn’s life create an environment
as similar as possible to their life in the womb: warmth, dim light, quiet sounds. Ask visitors to be peaceful,
to interact gently with the baby, and, of course, to be healthy.

You may find it beneficial to learn the gentle art of massaging a baby, giving strength and tone to their
muscles.

You might like to investigate underwater birth since the newborn has just come from a liquid environment.

When you interact with your baby, you can prepare them by first saying mentally or verbally what you
have in mind, then pick them up. Even if this is not essential for a newborn, it is a good idea to get into
the habit. Later it is essential, because each of us, whatever our age, has our own agenda: whether we’re
practicing crawling, carrying heavy objects, reading, playing baseball, doing scientific investigations, or
just being. When you need to interrupt another’s agenda it is a good practice to warn them beforehand,
leaving enough time to negotiate if necessary.

When your baby is crying and you haven’t been able to soothe them after trying everything you can think
of—feeding them, checking the diaper, checking their body for rashes or bites, checking the clothes for
stickers, smoothing the bed sheets, changing their position, rocking them, carrying them, going outside,
singing to them—it is helpful to have your self-esteem firmly in place. If possible, remaining centered can
help you be calm, not frustrated, and not frightened, and so able to choose a wise course of action.

You might want to investigate current information about the meaning of baby cries. Many people have
reported this information to be of help to them and their babies.

When you know that you will need to nurse the baby in public, you can bring along a shawl or some piece
of cloth which you can drape over the nursing baby so others will feel at ease. If necessary you might find
a restroom with a couch or comfortable chair where you can be less public. Realize that some people
might be offended no matter what.

A baby needs as much holding as they need, day or night. There are many baby holders which allow you
to work while holding your baby against your body. If the baby is happier, more peaceful sleeping with
you, you can sleep with them. Close to their mother, or some other loving and devoted human being, is a
natural place for a baby.

                  The Older Baby: Preparing The Environment
With Safety In Mind…

You need to get down at baby height and explore your living space. Look for things that could be within
reach of a mobile baby and might be harmful or easily harmed by them—poisons or harmful substances,
electrical outlets or cords, sharp objects, heavy things which the baby could pull over on themselves,
delicate things or things that need careful handling, stairs or other drop-offs…

You can remove, block off, elevate, lock up, make the baby’s world as safe as you can.

Remember that it’s not likely that you can protect a baby from all harmful situations. However, it’s good to
do the best you can.

Today there are companies that “baby-proof” for you.

With Stimulation In Mind…

After you have protected a baby from potential danger, take another baby level look, and evaluate the
environment in terms of stimulation. Be guided by what you have learned about the interests and the
development of young humans, and especially by what you have observed to interest your baby. At least
be sure there are objects of interest, common household ones, as well as baby toys, which the baby can
easily reach.

As a baby develops different interests, provide what you can to satisfy their changing developmental
needs.

Your baby might appreciate learning “baby sign language,” so that they can communicate their basic
needs before they are able to speak.

With Independence In Mind…

Put things meant for the baby where the baby can reach them:
  • For the crawler, that means near or on the floor
  • For the sitting baby, a low shelf might be enjoyable and challenging
  • For the baby pulling up into standing, things can be put on shelves or low tables that won’t fall over
    if they pull themselves up on them

When you start to use shelves for the baby’s things, you are helping yourself and your baby when you
have shelf space for each thing and make sure that when your baby is done with something it goes back
in that place. This helps lay the foundation for orderliness to continue naturally as your child grows. They
will build a mental picture of where things are found.

Although it is traditional, a toy box is too chaotic and frustrating a place to put a child’s toys. Generally, it
is hard to find what you want in a toy box without pulling lots of things out, and then you have a huge
mess to deal with. Also, the lids of toy boxes can fall, hurting little ones. It is important to remove the lids
or protect your child from being hurt by them in some other way.

Maybe all of the balls, or all of the stuffed toys, or all of the puzzles and games could live in a toy box
without causing trouble for the development of orderliness.

As much as possible, it is good for your child to choose their own time of weaning. Of course, the timing
must suit you also, but it is critically important that it suits your child, also. A child who is forcefully weaned
when they are not ready, can easily develop behavior to compensate for this, such as thumb sucking,
passionately desiring impossible things.

                      Providing Developmental Experiences…

Take the baby or toddler with you wherever you go at least as much as possible.
  • Shopping
  • Walking
  • Visiting
  • To work

Expose the baby to situations that might stimulate their interest and abilities.
  • Concerts
  • Ball games
  • Rivers
  • Forests
  • Ocean
  • Dance
  • Yoga
  • Whatever inspires you
  • Whatever seems to inspire your baby

Plan for the outing. Be sure you have what the baby or toddler might need if it is not available where you
are going or on the way.
  • Food
  • Drink
  • Extra clothes
  • Toys
  • Books
  • A small folding chair

So often a parent counts on the time the baby is taking a nap to get thing done. However, sometimes they
delay a nap and seem full of energy at a critical time for you. Then it’s time to think of alternatives, so that
you can still get your work done.
  • A baby swing
  • A cup and small wooden spoon
  • A cup with a lid with juice
  • Then sitting in front the plastic bowls and containers
  • Then jar lids to put in them
Finally, when your baby is tired and ready for that nap, you’ve gotten all of your work done.
Parent and baby have both had a satisfying, productive time.

In your respectful family everyone takes each other’s needs into account, their likes and dislikes, they
work together so that everyone’s needs get met. If the baby’s needs seem to conflict with everyone else’s,
a way is found to accommodate that baby. Often it is discovered, or realized that what people thought
they wanted and needed is not really that important, or it can happen in other ways, or that the timing is
flexible. There are so many ways we flex and modify to accommodate when we are clear on exactly what
we all need.
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Good Parent Good Kids
by Karen Ryce
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