Like all loving parents I am sure you want to do everything you can for your baby.
But as you nurse your baby day and night and your baby still cries and cries, I am sure you wonder “Am I really giving my baby what he or she needs?”
In this article I explain what babies really need for their physical, emotional, and mental growth and development.
If you give your baby the 6 things I have described below, you can be sure you are fulfilling your baby’s most important needs.
What are the most important things your baby needs from you?
A: What does your baby need from you for physical growth?
Breastmilk is the magic food that has all the nutrients that your baby needs to grow physically. Breastmilk helps in the structural growth of the body and the brain. In addition, it also has the immune factors that prevent illness and therefore promote growth.
Breastfeed on demand for as long as possible.
B: What does your baby need from you for emotional growth?
- Skin to skin contact
Newborn babies cannot move, cannot feed themselves, cannot see beyond 12 inches and can only hear certain kinds of sounds. This makes them feel unsafe unless they know that you are close by.
To convey that you are close by – hold your baby skin-to-skin as much as possible. Also practice baby wearing.
Babies who feel safe grow up to be emotionally secure and this leads to better physical and mental growth.
2. A happy mother
Babies get clues about the world from your mood.
If you are happy and cheerful, your baby thinks the world is a wonderful place and grows up to be curious and happy.
If you are exhausted, irritated and sad, your baby grows up feeling emotionally insecure.
This has huge impact on their mental and social growth.
Do not sacrifice and suppress your own needs and suffer through unhappiness to make your child happy.
Instead, prioritize self-care.
Eat well, sleep when you can and ask for help when you are tired.
3. A return for every serve
Babies repeatedly try to catch our attention by crying or babbling. These are called “serves” When we respond by picking them up, we “return their serves”. This makes them feel loved, valuable, powerful, and emotionally secure and builds their self-esteem.
Always respond promptly to your baby’s cries. Never snap at them or even worse, ignore them.
Babble with them and mimic their expressions to build their brains.
C: What your baby needs from you for mental (cognitive) growth?
- Attentive care giving
You take care of your baby day and night. You feed around the clock and change diapers all night.
But as you go about the hundreds of tasks you need to do, make sure you are not distracted and preoccupied.
Look into your baby’s eyes and talk about what you are doing and what you will do next. This builds your baby’s vocabulary, cognitive skills and memory.
Play allows them to explore, discover and experiment without feeling stressed about learning
Babies need you to participate in their play and encourage them and show them what else is possible.
Join your baby in play as often as possible. Click here to check our article on 10 games you can play with your baby.
Looking after a newborn baby is a lot of work.
But don’t get lost in ‘doing’. Focus on ‘being’. Because as you can see above – you can only fulfill your baby’s most important needs when you live in the moment.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant, and the founder of WPA whatparentsask.com She conducts online and offline workshops on parenting for schools and corporate organisations. She also conducts online and offline prenatal and infant care classes. She is a well-known thought-leader in parenting and an expert on play, learning and eating habits. Her books on parenting are published by Juggernaut Books and are among their most read books. She is frequently quoted in national and international publications of repute for her empathetic and compassionate approach to parenting and her application of physiology and brain science to parenting.