Almost nine years ago, when Zander was a baby, then-three-year-old Lann would stand next to my chair while I was nursing the baby and say, “Zander you HAVE to drink lots of nonnies so you can grow bigger and PLAY with me.” That set the intention for their brother-friendship and as soon as Zander could sit up, they played together every day. They get up in the morning and sit in the recliner together, covered up with a blanket and watching Minecraft videos on Lann’s iPod. They stay up “too late” every night laughing and talking like every night is a slumber party. I am grateful for this tight bond between them and I hope that somehow Alaina and Tanner might develop something close! There is an almost four year gap between Alaina and Tanner and it has definitely been our most difficult sibling adjustment experience. I’m not sure if it is the age gap, or gender related, or the fact that she doesn’t have a built-in best friend the way my boys do, but she has an incredible need for affirmation that she is still loved and she seems to feel perpetually attention-deprived and extremely needy. I try hard to do special things with her and to be empathetic and available, but the need-level + attention-desperation is emotionally wearing and feels “oppressive” or smothering, in its way (in that it provokes the opposite effect in me–i.e. feel like pushing away vs. drawing close. And, whatever I do, it is never enough for her). I keep waiting for her to adjust more, but in the last month it actually seems to be escalating instead of improving. Tales of encouragement welcome!
Tanner is successfully cross crawling all over the house and pulling up on everything as well as starting to cruise just a little (yes, not seven months old yet! Oh my goodness!). We feel like he is Genius Baby. See…
The cross-crawl milestone, which usually starts at 8-10 months, is not only beneficial in the child’s physical and neurological development; it will serve her or him much later in life.
I enjoyed this article recently about the importance of babies’ mental health:
The good news is that nurturing strong mental health in young children is not a specific undertaking in which parents need to engage — as if it were a “job” or task. It is how parents are with their babies that matters — providing comfort when fussy; responding to their child’s efforts to communicate first by facial expressions, sounds and gestures, and later words; engaging them in joyful play and exploration by following their interests and lead; coaching and supporting them to persist with challenges; providing appropriate limits to help children learn to manage when they can’t have everything they want; and most of all delighting in the joy of young children’s daily discoveries, and in the power of the bond they are building together. This kind of responsive care builds babies’ trust and sense of security, and makes them feel adored and loved — the key ingredients for positive mental health.
(And, speaking of mental health it was good to see that Children May Not Have as Many Mental Health Disorders as Suspected.)
While it seems tacked on as a bit of an afterthought in the Babies’ Mental Health article, I was also glad to see that the author acknowledged the systemic context and how that impacts parents’ ability to offer this needed responsive care to their children:
So, as a society, we are left with a choice. We can support young families as they master that critical dance of development. Or we can wait to address the mental health problems of older children and adults down the road, which is not only draining for them, but also expensive for society. Why not recognize where the foundations of mental health are laid and seize the opportunity to promote a good start?
Speaking of responsiveness, turns out that fathers are biologically primed to be responsive to their babies:
“Human fathers’ physiology has the capacity to respond to children,” Gettler says. “Our prior research has shown that when men become fathers, their testosterone decreases, sometimes dramatically, and that those who spend the most time in hands-on care — playing with their children, feeding them or reading to them — had lower testosterone. These new results complement the original research by taking it one step further, showing that nighttime closeness or proximity between fathers and their kids has effects on men’s biology, and it appears to be independent of what they are doing during the day.”
Substantial research has been conducted on the sleep and breastfeeding physiology of mother-baby co-sleeping, but this is the first study to examine how father-child sleep proximity may affect men’s physiology, and it is the first to explore the implications of co-sleeping for either mothers’ or fathers’ hormones.
This could also be related to the fact that dads are men and not idiots…
You’re so lucky your husband is willing to do all that while you’re away!
He did LAUNDRY? What a good man!
He is a good man, a really good man. But not because he tackled a few loads of laundry. He’s a good man because he’s always a good man, taking care of whatever needs doing for his family — whether I’m home or away.
To be honest, I found all the well-intentioned concern confusing. My husband traveled halfway around the world for a couple of weeks and I didn’t receive a fraction of the interest or accolades.
Maybe managing dual pickups or packing lunches aren’t part of his daily to-do, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be. If parenting in a marriage is indeed a partnership, let’s stop going ga-ga over da-da.
But, despite the awesomeness of da-das, it also turns out that babies are primed to say “mama” first:
But there is a word, and only one, spoken the same way in nearly every language known to humankind. That word, of course, is “mama.”
“Mama” is a universal word, describing the woman who gave us the most cherished love in our most vulnerable state. Almost every language boasts a recognizable form of it. While it’s true that most languages vary when it comes to the formal word mother, the intimate mama stays the same in each language.
But “mama” doesn’t spring from love. It happens because of two things: Lazy little baby mouths, and boobs…
…So why do babies gravitate to the “m” sound instead of “p” or “b”? Because of breasts, of course! The “m” sound is the easiest for a baby mouth to make when wrapped around a warm delicious breast. Even as adults, we still associate “mmm” with something being yummy and good. So does your baby.
Yep. The “ma-ma” sound is easier to make while also nursing at the same time! (My babies have all said “mmm, mmm” while nursing and I “mmm, mmm” back to them on the tops of their fuzzy, magical heads.)
Of course, nursing also is a magical way to put babies to sleep and co-sleeping helps:
Do what works for your family and trust yourself to know your baby better than any external authority. You are spending the most time with your baby, and every baby is different. Infants, children, and their parents intersect in all kinds of diverse ways. Indeed, there is no template for any relationship we develop. When it comes to sleeping arrangements, many families develop and exhibit very fluid notions of where their baby “should” sleep. Parents with less rigid ideas about how and where their babies should sleep are generally much happier and far less likely to be disappointed when their children cannot perform the way they are “supposed to” — i.e. sleep through the night…
The sleep expectations I’ve had to adjust the fourth time around center on naps rather than nighttime. I’ve always had babies I could put down to nap (after they fell asleep). Not true anymore! So, I’ve adjusted to this extended period of “cave time” with my baby, where I retreat to the bed to nurse him for nap and then stay in there together, him right next to me, while I work on my computer. Just before I started this post, I took a picture of his sweet little naptime nursing self. I love having a baby!
Final off-topic note, remember that we’ve started a private Brigid’s Grove Facebook group for sneak peeks, special offers, class information and conversation + idea sharing. It is here that we’ll also offer rock bottom deals on sculpture seconds when we have them available. The last batch of ten mildly flawed goddesses were gone within a couple of hours!