During the first year or so, your baby’s brain is still developing. Some of this just happens, but a lot depends on what you do.
One of the most important things is to help your baby learn how to manage feelings and behaviour. Parents want their children to grow up feeling secure and able to cope with the ups and downs of life. Not only will they be happy, but they will learn better too.
For at least the first year, your baby needs you to do most of this work. Babies learn how to soothe themselves from being soothed lots of times by adults.
So the most important thing you can do is to notice when your baby needs you and to be there for them. Even a few minutes a day without the phone, but playing and talking can make a big difference for the future.
Babies are always scanning the world to see if it is safe, and if you are there to help them. It is worth remembering:
- babies are small and helpless so they feel unsafe really easily, even if it is actually OK. You may not see what the matter is, but can still respond as your baby needs
- sudden noises, loud voices and lots of background noise can be difficult for babies
- most families have arguments from time to time, but babies can be scared by raised voices – best to sort things out quietly or somewhere else if you can – or make sure you comfort the baby to let them know it is OK now
- babies go through stages when they find strangers scary, and you might need to help with soothing and explanation. Anyone they don’t see all the time can count as a stranger, so grandparents may sometimes find the baby is “shy”.
- if your baby does get stressed, it is not a disaster, because you are there to soothe and make it right. In fact this pattern of little stresses and then soothing can be really helpful for your baby to learn how to cope. But don’t do it on purpose!
- the most important thing is you. Your baby will learn from your calm and your coping. It means that as they grow up, they will trust you and learn how to do as you ask