By Brent Friedlander
What does it look like to be “in tune” with your baby? Being in tune is the symbiotic connection to your child in which you build trust and attachment between your relationships. This connection is not innate at birth; rather it grows and changes over time. It is important to remind yourself as you work towards these steps that there is no finish line. It is a constant work in progress which requires attention and adaptation. This dance between you and your child will be the foundation for many of the building blocks for both cognitive and social emotional development.
Step One – Spend time lying on the floor with your baby
This may be something you already do naturally, but it is amazing how often we put a baby on the floor and sit down on a couch or stand and have conversations above them. It’s important to get down to their level. One of the reasons this is so important is to build respect in your relationship.
For an exercise, spend just one minute on the floor with an adult standing and staring over you. It doesn’t take long in this position before you start to feel uncomfortable with the physical dynamics.
Often times a baby might cry when put down on the floor, especially during tummy time. Your impulse might be to pick them up as they get upset, and yet the floor is right where they should be to develop the muscles needed for future physical development such as rolling, sitting, crawling, walking, etc. Instead of instantly picking them up, get down on the floor with them. Spend time lying there, making eye contact, and talking to them. It’s amazing to spend time on their level building a respectful relationship with your child.
Step Two – Usable Moments or losable moments
Babies take a lot of work…Constant diapers, feedings, changing clothes, putting down for naps…and it feels like it never ends. You repeat the same caregiving tasks over and over again. It is easy to fall into these caregiving moments without giving much attention other than to the task at hand. These are important usable moments.
Babies are helpless and feel most vulnerable during a time they have a need and they look to you for reassurance. It is your job to use these times to connect individually with your child.
Focus on gently talking to them while changing a diaper. Sing a song to them while you put on their clothes. Calmly rub their arm while they look into your eyes and nurse/take a bottle. These moments when done with intention will build trust and self-esteem, two important qualities essential later on in life.
Step Three – Communicate what you are doing
Just because a child does not talk, does not mean you don’t need to. Everything you do with your baby should involve language, and please limit your “baby talk.” Although this is extremely important for language development, again this comes back to respect.