We all have them.
Do your expectations as an adult meet up with your expectations that YOU have for your baby? Your child?
Expectations as an adult tend to go a little like this… To be loved. To be respected. To be acknowledged and also nurtured.
Why then do we feel that our baby or older children would not also have these same expectations?
I ask this because I feel that some of us are still on the same ‘old school’ page of Crying It Out (CIO). With our little people we may feel even that punishment is more sufficient instead of teaching. Perhaps we have an expectation that our children should ‘respect our authority’ then we will return the favour and in turn ‘respect them!’
I know that this might jostle a few feathers and I am ok with that, because if it does, then I am SO pleased that you are here. I am so excited that you are using the new year as an opportunity to take stock, take action and create change within your home, after all this is where the magic really happens..
The French Psychologist Jean Piaget was one who insisted that infants and children should be treated according to their appropriate stage of development. Not as if they were capable of understanding what adults wanted precisely when adults wanted it (Taken from Don and Patricia Edgars book “The new child, in search of smarter grown-ups”).
This article will focus around babies. I truly believe that when we parent consciously and intuitively from birth we tend to be inclined to continue to parent our children that way throughout their time in early childhood and beyond.
Babies enter our world emerged through their senses, touch, sight, hearing and the effect of its physical actions of the world around them. For this very reason why do we feel that it is ok to have our infants crying themselves to sleep, screaming incessantly because no one will come to them? I did this. I do understand the frustration and the relentless exhaustion when your infant won’t sleep. I also empathise immensely with the guilt in not being the parent who has an ‘easy’ baby, one who sleeps, eats and plays as society expects your baby to. The guilt in not having the ‘good’ baby which inevitably makes you feel like the ‘bad’ mum.
I was that mum.
I let our first daughter cry it out. I thought that I could ‘train’ her to sleep like the midwife had taught me to. Even when Every fibre of my being ached to pick her up…. I didn’t. I needed to be the mum with the ‘good’ baby. I needed society to think I had it all under control.
My society was well meaning family members who thought that her vomiting all the time was me ‘overfeeding’ her. They told me that I was creating sleep associations in holding her all the time, I needed to put her down to sleep. According to others there were comments such as, “back when we had our babies we used to ‘time’ their feeds, they fed every 3 hours and slept like a dream, she’s not sleeping because she has a ‘tummy ache!’
I took ALL of this in. I cried so much because I truly thought that I was ‘doing it ALL wrong.’ My expectations changed again and I couldn’t cope.
I decided that my only option was to stop holding her all the time, stop feeding her on demand and try crying it out. This is what I HAVE to do if I want her to sleep longer then 2-3 hours. She was only 6 weeks old. I did it. I had her cry herself to sleep on numerous occasions with me pacing the house waiting for 2 minutes then 3 minutes. Just like the midwife showed me. Fast forward a few weeks later and I ended up at Tresillian with her to “train her” to sleep. Six hours later and I was told she wasn’t “trainable” she was sick. Oh my. I cannot even explain the ache in my heart. My soul completely torn apart.
I later found out that my baby girl had severe reflux.
We consciously decided NO MORE. We are going to listen to HER needs, co-sleep safely, wear her in a baby sling so she’s upright and if she sleeps in there then that’s amazing! We will hold her as much as she needs us to. Because this is her expectation of us.
We were no longer going to adhere to OUR expectations brought upon by societies expectations.
Personally we had had ENOUGH.
All infants have been jostled about in utero, carried, nurtured and warm. All of their needs have been met for nine months. Why then once earth side do we feel that they need to ASK us by crying out for what they need? They simply shouldn’t have to. New babies need the fourth trimester to acclimatise to their new world. Therefore, their expected place is always within arms, and at the breast, this is where their innate sense of peace is met.
This will always fulfill all of their needs and also help to contribute to their development.
Strong and secure attachment is vital to your baby’s development. You can build attachment by learning to read your baby’s signals and knowing how to best respond to your baby’s needs.
For example: Babies have different attachment behaviour to show different needs.
To show they need attention, for example, young babies might:
· Smile at you, or make eye contact – babies love to look into your eyes.
· Make little noises, such as coos or laughs.
· Crawl after you or hold out their arms.
· Copy your gestures.
· Look relaxed and interested.
To show when they need a break or perhaps a different, gentler approach, young babies might:
· Look away, shut their eyes or yawn.
· Try to struggle or pull away.
· Look tense and unsettled.
By the age of two your child has gained a more practical understanding of their world. They are then coming to understand that things (including their mum and dad) continue to exist even when they are out of view. Their expectations will change again (and most likely far earlier than two).
Every child is always going to try to make sense of their world. They are putting the pieces together. “Mum holds me, she feeds me and nurtures me. Dad plays with me, he holds me and nurtures me too.” These are their very simplistic expectations.
Ironically these are ours as adults too.
As parents it is up to us to show our babies and our children that those expectations they hold dear, their instincts and their needs are healthy, and more then OK to have. We need to show them this and support their healthy expectations because as adults we expect these foundations in our lives too, so why can’t our children expect the same?