What does a baby NOT have in common with milk, meat and a Game of Thrones finale? They cannot be spoiled. Why? Because...
🔅Babies thrive on affectionate love.
When babies receive food, nappy changes & little else, they wither. If they receive partial attention, it’s still not enough - they won’t reach their full potential. Babies do best when at least one person thinks the sun rises & sets with them. In fact, babies prefer a community of close, responsive caregivers with their mother nearby.
🔅Babies expect to move, play & learn.
Babies expect to be “in arms” or on the body of the caregiver most of the time. Skin-to-skin contact is a calming influence. Babies expect to be in the middle of community social life, they’re ready to play from birth. Play is a primary method for learning & builds intelligence.
🔅Babies are social mammals with social needs.
Social mammals emerged 30+ million years ago along with intensive parental investment. These include many months of breastfeeding for optimal development, nearly constant touch & physical presence of caregivers, free play with multi-aged playmates, + soothing experiences. Each of these has significant & lasting effects on physical & mental health.
🔅Culture doesn’t erase the needs of babies.
Many in our society advocate violating these needs so to better fit expectations of how things 'should' be. Failure to meet our babies’ very human needs creates stress that is encoded into their bodies, affecting things like their immune, endocrine & vascular systems. The rationalisation of “culture over biology” reflects a basic misunderstanding of human nature.
🔅What can with do with this knowledge?
Be aware of these needs, interact sensitively & responsively with the babies you encounter. Support parents. Continue to learn, read & be open to lessons from the best teachers around – our babies themselves.
References: Anderson 1991; Faircloth 2014; Narvaez 2011
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