Baby In The House!
Okay so this is merely opinion and observation, so take it as such. In my work with bonding and attachment, I increasingly am aware of some things that we as adults do that may be unwittingly harming the bonding of children.
I cringe at the sight of a new baby and the swarm of people flocking around to hold, hug, and kiss. I love babies but I would never ask to hold one I didn’t know! That seems really disrespectful to the parents and to the attachment process. And yet I see virtual strangers going up to mothers in stores and doing just that. I believe that no one except parents and very close relatives should be holding a baby the first three months after birth. And after that, I still think it should be minimal and only when the parent offers. Most mothers know how their babies will react to people and we need to respect that knowing.
Okay, I can hear aunts and uncles and best friends and all of the rest of you screaming. But think about it: the child knew only the mother and her body for nine months, and that was safe and secure. And then he/she is introduced to this huge, loud, bright world and all of these faces begin peering down at him/her. If you are only two weeks or two months old, every new experience is imprinted on your brain. What needs to happen is that mom and dad are securely imprinted, not strangers in the shopping mall.
Emotional security needs to be established before other adults enter into the child’s life. Emotional security is the “core of meeting basic social and personality needs such as maintaining self-esteem and being affectionate toward others (C. Fishbein, 1984) and if that emotional security is not met, the baby can become over-aroused, which then limits his/her capacity to calm and quiet. If we as adults push ourselves on a baby, we may be causing undue anxiety and getting in the way of the emotional security development.
I am a huge believer that food sends a message to our children, so whoever feeds the child (holds the bottle, slides the spoon in the mouth, pays for dinner) is seen as the major care-giver. This is another reason why only moms and dads (of yeah, and grandmas) should be feeding babies. How is the child to learn who to attach to if mixed signals are being imprinted?
I know we all want to share in the experience of a new one, but that should not be at the cost to the child, parents, or their relationship. I do believe, as the child gets older and more comfortable, more adults can enter into the child’s life safely. Cues from the parents and the baby need to be watched as this happens. We all need to be mindful of the possibility of stress and anxiety in a baby’s life and how we all can work toward giving the child the opportunity to learn to trust appropriately the world around him/her.Tags: a new baby, establishing emotional security, food for babies, how to handle a baby
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
Licensed Professional Counselor
Advanced Clinical HypnoTherapist
- Deb England began working part-time for Wholeness Healing Center in September 2004 and began full-time in May 2005. Deb practices primarily in the Broken Bow office and one day a week in the Grand Island office. Previously she had completed her practicum and internship at Morning Star Alliance, working in the Broken Bow and Grand Island offices.
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