It is a natural tendency of new parents to worry that they are “doing it all wrong” and for others to focus on mistakes that parents are making. Actually, we need to stop and take account of the many wonderful and effective strategies that parents are implementing, that help them to be the best parent they can be.
Becoming a new parent is the most overwhelming and exhilarating of times. It is a steep learning curve, one for which very few of us have received any level of training for, so outside of whatever books we have read, information sourced online and of course that incredibly important handed down suggestions from family and friends, it can unfortunately leave some of us feeling undermined and like we are failing.
Here are 7 things that you as a parent, are doing well
1. Building a strong relationship with your baby. Your sole task as parent is to get to know your baby and to provide a chance for them to get to know you. To allow yourself the time and opportunity to learn their body language, signals and unique personality. Focus on them; study their face and maintain eye contact helps secure the bond with your newborn. Interacting with your baby-smiling at them, especially when they smile at you. Talking with them, responding to their own bird-like coos and spending lots of time holding and cuddling them so that ultimately they always feel loved, safe and secure. Letting them know that you are interested in them helps to begin an early foundation for building their self esteem; that they matter. Although I know that it is not entirely practical, but don’t worry about the household chores and things that must be done. If at all possible, put on hold and don’t allow those tasks to become more important that the early and ongoing relationship with your baby.
2. Feeding your baby when they signal that they are hungry. Teaching them that their every need will be met, does not mean that you will spoil your baby. It actually means that your baby will learn that their needs will be filled without delay or frustration and that they don’t need to panic about how you respond to them, that you are predictable. They will understand that you know what you are doing and what they need; taking comfort in that and building confidence in you.
3. Acknowledging their language for sleep further enhances their faith in you. Knowing the difference between the hunger cry and the first signs of tiredness-the brief eye rub, yawn and zoning out and away are typical indications of getting tired and if you act on those cues then once again your baby’s body won’t panic and become over-stimulated or over-tired and then will in turn trust his communication with you, which can help to further intensify the bond between you.
4. Rocking, rolling, swinging, dancing, jiggling and feeding your baby to sleep! If your baby shows you that they need lots of handling and intervention to get to sleep, filling this need as required again further ingrains strength of the connection with you. Don’t worry about “bad habits” there is not such thing! The early months are all about needs being met appropriately, quickly and effectively. If you can commit it to that alone you are doing an amazing job. Many parents worry that holding baby will make them reliant on you-but they are anyway! They need to trust you and be supported by you- you have held baby inutero for 9 months and if they come requiring more of the same lean into this-this will diminishes as time evolves anyway.
5. Getting out and about. Your new baby is super mobile and adaptable right now, you don’t need to stay home and establish a routine or define a place to sleep just yet. Getting lots of outside activity and fresh air is great for baby and for you! Walking your baby to the park-filling their sensory diet, exposing to fresh air has such positive implications for your emotional wellbeing, their sleeping patterns and of course early development. It helps you to feel more human. Make lots for plans for coffee, shopping and trips out and about.
6. Parenting you. To be the best parent to your infant then first you need to parent yourself. As well as deepening your relationship with baby, travel inwards to the relationship with yourself too. Meet your needs, put yourself first, take time out, and ask for help. Doing something kind for yourself means your tank of self love is high and then you will have enough to give to another. You cannot give to another, what you do not have for yourself. Time out is not selfish as you may believe; it is critical-get your nails done, go for a walk alone, meet up with a friend. Don’t be hard on yourself. Although we feel the baby must come first, actually parents need to put themselves first in order to be able to be available emotionally as well as physically.
7. Reading to your baby. It’s never too early to read books to your little baby. Sitting with them, telling them stories either from a book or from your head. It’s not the words, it is the way that you say them and in turn will help grow their imagination and love of learning. It is a powerful way to help them self regulate and calm in your presence. It can also begin for form the basis of a calm bedtime routine.
Try to remember, that we are all doing our best and we are doing an amazing job! There are no right or wrong ways to parent-just different approaches that you may not even developed or learned about yet. Effective and positive parenting is based on your self-belief and personal preferences. Your baby will let you know what doesn’t suit them and you can evolve together. All the best!
Lucy Wolfe, CGSC, MAPSC, H.Dip RM is a paediatric sleep consultant, Author of the bestselling book The Baby Sleep Solution, creator of “Sleep Through”, a natural bed and body sleep spray and relaxing rub, and mum of four. She runs a private sleep consulting practice where she provides knowledge, expertise and valuable support to families across the country. See www.sleepmatters.ie |087 2683584 or |firstname.lastname@example.org
The book and products are available online www.sleepmatters.ie and in retail outlets nationwide