Infants have basic but very important needs. When we respond to these needs, babies develop a sense of
security and trust. This becomes an essential foundation for later learning, loving and growing.
When your baby fusses, what do you do naturally? You pick him up and soothe him. This everyday routine helps your baby learn that he can count on you to respond to his needs.
You may hear people say that you should not hold a baby too much, or you will spoil him. In the first six months of life, it is impossible to spoil a baby.
Parents of young infants are busy people.
By nature, babies cry a lot. Cries are a baby's first way of communicating and getting his needs met.
Babies are naturally curious. They reach for and touch all sorts of things. But as babies begin to move, we often wish that they would stop doing some things. Of course, growing up is really about learning what we should do.
Babies need attention, and you have control over the kind of attention that you give. You will give different kinds of positive attention as your baby's age changes.
Situation: Your baby is playing peacefully in his bouncy chair, repeatedly hitting his mobile. As it sways, it brushes his nose and scares him. He begins to cry.
Pick which responses seem best.
Practice what you might say.
a) Move the mobile away.
b) Pick the baby up and cuddle. Reassure him.
"That scared you. Mommy is here. It's okay."
c) Don't let him play with mobiles.
"No more mobile. Put it away."
d) After he settles down, play together with the toy and show him it will not hurt.
"You like your toy. See, it is fine. Let's play."
Did you pick B and D? These responses give positive attention. They express what the baby is feeling and help him calm himself down.
Situation: Your hard of hearing baby is fussing and tugging at her hearing aid. She pulls it out and tries to put it in her mouth.
Pick which responses seem best.
a) Take the hearing aids off and put them away for the rest of the day.
b) Grab the hearing aid for her and put it right back in.
"No eating. You need to wear this."
c) Gently take the hearing aid and hug and calm her.
"It's okay sweetie. Are you bored? Did that bother you?"
d) Give her something fun to mouth and explore and then slip the aid back in.
"Here's your rattle. Oh, you like to taste it."
Did you pick C and D? We want the baby to wear the hearing aid as much as possible so putting it away for the day is not the best option. We also want to respond in a gentle and matter-of-fact way when putting it back in. We can give positive and loving attention to calm her, then give her something to do while we put the aid back in.
Situation: Your deaf baby is fussy in her infant seat and seems ready for a nap but will not settle down. She is fussy but doesn't want the bottle.
a) Pick her up, smile and sign to her. Touch her to soothe and quiet her.
"You want mommy? Mommy loves you. You are sleepy."
b) Show her favorite toys and try to stop her fussing.
"Here, let's play a new game."
c) Ignore her because she may just drift off to sleep.
d) Rock her and sign simple ideas.
"I love you. Bed time? Sleepy girl."
A and D are the best choices. They give positive attention through facial expression, signing and touch. Offering favorite toys may be overly stimulating if the baby is tired. Ignoring her misses an opportunity for closeness that will help your baby go to sleep.