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Understanding the emotional needs of a baby

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The initial years of a baby are not just about the physical growth, but also about the emotional, intellectual and social upbringing. However, this depends upon the kind of care and concern that parents show towards their babies. Joyful involvement and some prudence on your part can make this phase a very memorable period.

Friday, March 17th, 2017

Attention creates a sense of security. Little gestures of love like cuddling, coaxing, reassuring looks, smiling etc. create feelings of safety and security in your baby. This is the time when your baby demands maximum attention. It is important to be always around and offer a helping hand to your baby.

Emotional development. This phase is very sensitive as the baby is undergoing rapid emotional development. What kind of a person the baby grows up to be - compassionate or indifferent, trusting or apprehensive, optimistic or pessimistic, hopeful or resentful - largely depends upon the kind of attitude and behaviour you have towards your baby during this period.

Love and trust. At this stage, it is crucial for a baby to develop a sense of belonging for a person who is the primary caregiver and in most cases it is the mother. Such feelings build a strong foundation of trust and reduce stress levels in babies, depicted by low levels of the stress hormone - cortisol. This love and trust established in the growing years help the baby develop mental and emotional strength to deal with various situations throughout life.

Be a playmate to your Baby. Playing with babies, talking to them about general things in their surroundings, replying to their questions and reading to them from simple picture/text books help cultivate mental growth and intelligence. You should not hesitate in letting your baby freely explore her environment as long as her protection is ensured. This calls for vigilant safeguarding on your part.

Building blocks of a baby’s personality. Constant love and encouragement from parents develop a sense of individuality and self-efficacy in babies and positive traits emerge naturally in them. They develop confidence in their abilities, motivation to handle events in their surroundings and mental stimulus in carrying out activities like going to school, taking up challenging endeavours, coping with obstacles and disappointments amongst others.

Shower love. Babies must know that they are loved so that they grow up into emotionally healthy people. Love is the most essential emotion that every human being needs for a positive growth in life. Studies show that babies who have significant skin-to-skin contact with their mothers bond with them better and grow better than babies who don’t.

Show that you care.

There are many ways to show affection to your baby.

Birth to 2 months. Hold, smile, cuddle and rock your baby often. Observe the things that your baby responds to best and do those things more frequently.

2 months to 6 months. Hold your baby. Smile at her. Exchange touch. And most importantly receive her touch, which they are going to do often, with warmth on your face.

6 months to 12 months. Allow your baby to have a security object like a blanket or a stuffed animal. Play, laugh and have fun with your baby.

12 months to 18 months. Hold your  baby when she wants to be held. Praise appropriately for things she does.

The magic of touch.

We are all aware that touch has a cathartic effect on every living being. Some appropriate ways of showing appreciation through touch are:

• Brief hugs

• Pats on the shoulder or back

• Handshakes

• ‘High-fives’ and hand slapping

• Touching hands, shoulders and arms of babies

• Putting arms around their shoulders

• Holding hands while walking

• Sitting beside small babies

• Kneeling or bending down for hugs

• Holding hands during prayer

The magic of words.

As your baby starts understanding your expressions and words, she seeks approval for small things in daily life. Verbally praising and appreciating your baby boosts her self-esteem and instills confidence.Expressing joy and pride in every new or small achievement of the baby is very important in making her self-reliant.

Some important things need to be kept in mind while showing affection to babies and toddlers.

Every baby is unique. One may be outgoing while the other may be shy. Be sensitive to your baby’s cues which  ‘tell’ you that she needs affection.

Be more observant. Be aware of signals indicating that a baby has had enough. Do not thrust your love on her. For example, if a baby cries or turns away, it usually means that she is content and needs a break.

Don’t overdo it. Toddlers can have very strong feelings about things and may not want affection when you are ready to give it. Keep in mind that the baby is still learning about the world around her and this is a step in the process.

Babies who are loved and cared for in these early years become more confident and perform better at school than babies deprived of love in their homes or mistreated constantly. They are also more likely to form long lasting relationships because they are emotionally healthy and in turn can offer greater empathy. Emotionally happy babies invariably become physically healthy and robust and are usually seen to be successful in every aspect of their lives.

Remember, Babies flourish with good parenting!!

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