Empowering New Parents. A message to fellow parents and soon-to-be parents that may need to hear this!
I don’t often write for this blog, but recently, I was at a conference and found a repeated message from new mums to be surprising: the idea that new mums need permission to attend to their baby’s needs. It seems that, even in this day and age, some outdated beliefs still persist. The message came from so many of the new mums, and it was consistent regardless of age or ethnicity. I wanted to take a moment to talk about this and the immense importance of meeting our little ones’ needs right from the start!
In the past, we’ve discussed coping with a crying baby who won’t settle. We’ve acknowledged that sometimes, in moments of overwhelm, it’s perfectly okay to place your baby in the cot, ensure their safety, and take a brief moment to compose yourself before returning to the baby. I guess I had heard so many mums say how they feel overwhelmed from the constant crying and those mums needed permission to take a moment to look after themselves that it hadn’t occurred to me that mums (and dads – it’s just that I generally hear from mums) may feel like they need permission to look after their baby.
A rod for your own back
Your baby is manipulative
Another fallacy is the notion that by picking up your crying baby, you’re spoiling them or falling prey to their manipulation. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Babies are not capable of manipulative behaviour. Crying is their only way of expressing their needs and seeking comfort and connection. Responding sensitively to their cries not only addresses their immediate needs but also builds a strong foundation for healthy attachment.
Let’s talk attachment
Attachment is a fundamental aspect of a child’s emotional well-being. By attending to your baby’s needs, you’re not only meeting their physical requirements but also nurturing their emotional development. Research has shown that responsive caregiving promotes secure attachment, which leads to enhanced self-esteem, emotional regulation, and overall positive mental health outcomes later in life.
Furthermore, attending to your baby’s needs profoundly impacts their brain development. A baby’s brain is rapidly growing and forming connections during the early years. When caregivers consistently respond to their needs, it helps regulate their stress response system, providing a sense of safety and security. This, in turn, facilitates optimal brain development and sets the stage for healthy cognitive, emotional, and social growth.
Your permission slip
So, if you’ve ever felt unsure about attending to your baby’s needs, let me be clear: you absolutely have permission to do so! In fact, it’s not just permission; it’s an opportunity to foster a strong bond with your little one. Don’t let outdated beliefs or misguided opinions make you doubt your instincts.
Remember, meeting your baby’s needs isn’t about spoiling them or creating behavioural issues; it’s about showing them that you’re there for them, building a secure attachment, and laying the foundation for their future well-being. Trust your instincts, follow your heart, and respond to your baby’s cries with love and care (while also knowing that if it gets too much, it’s 100% ok to tag in another caregiver, and if another caregiver isn’t available, it’s ok to take a moment to compose yourself so you can respond to your child’s needs).
To all the new mums, dads, and caregivers out there, if you need permission to attend to your baby’s needs, please consider this your official permission slip, and feel free to forward this blog to anyone who is shaming you for meeting your child’s needs or who is still holding onto those outdated beliefs.
This parenting gig is hard enough without other people adding guilt and shame, especially when it is based on outdated beliefs. Embrace this precious time of connection and watch as your little one thrives with the love and support, they receive from you.