Keep a cool head, mum

  • Family
  • Thursday, 10 Jul 2014

Not a race: Take the time to get to know your baby. - MCT

Seven secrets to being a more relaxed mum.

STOP freaking out! Every instinct may be telling you to be more careful, more attentive and more reactive, but what you really need is to chill (just a little bit).

We promise – it won’t make you a bad mum.

Trust baby to be able to tell you what he wants, even as a newborn.

They may seem helpless, but babies can communicate with you through their gestures, noises and cries.

In fact, psychologist and author David Chamberlain reports in The Mind of Your Newborn Baby that studies have shown newborns can tell you what they’re thinking well before they can speak through their actions, like baby reaching out his arms (“hold me”), giving you a curious look (“tell me about that”), grimacing or screaming (“I don’t like that” or “I need that!”), cooing or gurgling (“I love that” or “that feels good!”) or gasping (“I’m excited!”).

“Believing babies are competent as opposed to helpless fundamentally changes how you interact with them,” advises Deborah Solomon, author of Baby Knows Best.

You need to learn to speak baby.

Don’t push baby to do things beyond her ability.

Newsflash: you’re not in a competition with some arbitrary milestone tracker. She hasn’t rolled over? That’s OK; she’s not ready. He hasn’t figured out the whole potty training thing yet? He will.

“Sooner is not always better,” says Solomon. “Of course some babies need more support, but let your child reveal that to you first.”

It’s very easy to get caught up in the pressure of what’s happening when – especially when you hear other mums bragging about their babies – but resist the urge to worry.

So, how do you know when your concern about a missed milestone goes beyond feeling competitive and is something you need to talk to your doctor about? If baby isn’t smiling by around two months, rolling over by six months, sitting unsupported by nine or picking up small pieces of food by 12 months, definitely let your pediatrician know.

Give baby some personal space.

Kiss the I-didn’t-play-enough-with-baby-today guilt goodbye! You think you have to do so much, but you don’t.

Baby just came out of the womb and all of a sudden she’s got a parachute over her head and bells and songs in her ear. All she needs are the simple things like air on her cheeks and to see a leaf move.

“Everything is new to baby,” says Solomon.

Some alone time to quietly experience her world around her from her crib or her blanket gives her independence, a longer attention span and you a break from being her main entertainer.

Let baby make mistakes (like letting her fall down sometimes).

“When a child first starts to walk, she’s going to fall,” Solomon notes. “You could assume she hurt herself when she falls, but maybe she’s just startled. And if you respond with a gasp and an ‘oh no!’ baby will take that cue from you.

Instead, calmly and empathetically say what happened: “Oh, you fell. I bet that surprised you”, and wait and see. If she really hurt herself, she’ll let you know she needs comfort.

A Filipino mother plays with her five-month-old baby outside a shanty in Manila, Philippines. – Photo EPA

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Keep a cool head , mum


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