You’ve read countless articles, books, and how-to guides on what to do when the baby comes. But are you familiar with what not to do?
As you slog it out and adapt to the new role of motherhood, there are a few things you need to keep in mind between the occasional naps and the endless chores.
Ensuring you do not do the following five things to your baby can help you in raising mentally and emotionally healthy adults who make your home and the world a better place.
1. Don’t Ever Ignore Your Baby
Amidst all the chores and extra responsibilities, you might get tempted to ignore your baby’s calls for just a few minutes. Don’t. Babies are born with the ability to communicate — whether it’s by grunting or moving their arms. Moms communicate with their babies, too — be it singing, cooing, reading, or talking. This interaction between mother and child is crucial for a baby’s development. Studies show that “mutually responsive orientation” (a relationship in which both the parent and child influence each other to build a healthy bond) has many benefits like improved friendship skills and pro-social behavior (1). Moreover, such companionship helps significantly in the emotional and intellectual development of the child. Bear in mind that whatever babies learn at this age will apply to their relationships as they’re growing up. So ensure you pay attention to them.
2. Don’t Let Them Cry
It hurts when you cry, and nobody pays heed, doesn’t it? It makes you feel bad about yourself and anger for the ones who ignored you. Your baby actually feels a lot worse when that happens with them. Your baby’s rapidly developing brain is still learning how to be social. If you leave them distressed frequently, you run the risk of developing anxious and distrustful behaviors in them while impairing their cognitive flexibility (2). It’s important to keep in mind that when babies cry, it’s not about throwing a tantrum. It’s the only way they can really communicate what they need at that point. It’s not easy for babies to stop crying when they start. Hence, it’s best to pay attention to the physical cues they give out so you can prevent the tantrum. Babies will grimace, pout or act restless when they experience discomfort. Watch out for these signs and fix the discomfort beforehand, so they don’t have to be distressed too often.
3. Don’t Leave Them By Themselves
As we’ve touched upon above, babies are in need of constant connection. If you leave them alone too much, they won’t understand the reason behind it. As you already know, they’re not programmed to take care of their own needs. They rely on you for that. Leave them on their own a lot, and they’re likely to turn cranky and needy. Or perhaps silent and sad on the inside. This can lead to personal distress later on in life, which in turn can result in low levels of empathy and compassion in your child (3). So be around them as much as you can. Or ensure somebody else is there with them when you have other things to tend to.
4. Don’t Skip The Chance To Hold Whenever You Can
Whenever you hold your baby, you invariably end up soothing them. The sense of deep relaxation and peace they feel relays into adulthood and beyond, helping them develop a calm and composed nature. If you skip most of the opportunities to hold your baby, they might never learn how to relax and let go of whatever’s troubling them. According to a study, being physically apart from their caregivers can trigger pain response in babies, thus having a negative impact on various hormones as they’re developing (4). Separation can also lead to high levels of stress and poor memory later on in life (5).
5. Don’t Punish Them
It’s common to punish your child to prevent them from inculcating behaviors you don’t consider desirable. You might spank or hit them to stop them from doing certain things or behaving a particular way. However, you absolutely shouldn’t. Any kind of aggressive behavior can negatively impact your child’s development. Babies learn everything from you — including how to behave and live. If you punish your baby too much, you may hamper their motivation to learn (6). They may even suppress their natural desires and interests around you. Further, punishment may even lead to an increase in misbehavior and aggression rather than a reduction (7).
We understand raising a baby is a challenging task that can often get frustrating. However, if you give your baby the proper care and attention, the often rough ride of raising a child turns into a smooth and easy one.