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Being in Sync with your Child

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Parent Handouts and Info - Parent


Being in Sync with your Child


All Ages

Age Groups

Infancy (<1), Toddlerhood (1-3), Preschool/Kindergarten (3-5), School Age (6-12)

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Being in Sync with your Child

Being in Sync with your Child

A newborn's first job is learning to control body functions that we think are automatic. These include breathing, maintaining body temperature, eating, digesting food and sleeping. Self-regulating these functions is a big job for a newborn. And several things affect a baby's ability to do this. All infants are "wired" differently. Some babies have established nervous systems and some need more time to mature. Also your baby's unique traits are important. Some babies are more easily distressed than others and some are hard to soothe. Lastly, babies need a loving and consistent caregiver. Usually this is their mother. Babies need their mothers to help them not be overwhelmed by their feelings. Early on a mother "tunes" into what her baby needs by watching her baby's behavior. As a mother gets better at knowing what her baby needs, her baby comes to trust that she will be there when needed. This amazing synchrony develops quickly over the first few months of life. Dr. John Bowlby, a well-known psychiatrist, called this attachment. A strong attachment is the basis of healthy brain development.

So, the better you understand your baby, the better you will be able to be in sync with them. When your baby is upset, help them calm down. Anything that causes fear, excitement or sadness is stressful for your baby. Sustained distress is tiring for an infant. It takes away energy that is needed for brain development. In the beginning, babies cry to get help calming down. Over time infants learn other ways to communicate their needs to caregivers. As they get older, they can use eye contact and touch. Eventually they learn to use words to say what is bothering them.

While your baby is young, here are some things you can do to be "in sync" with your infant.

  • Observe your infant's natural patterns of being. Get to know their likes and dislikes, the way they like to be held, what calms them when they are upset and how they like to explore the world.
  • If your baby is upset, always try to soothe them before they reach a screaming state.
  • Try to follow your baby's own natural schedule. Keep active and quiet times consistent each day so your baby doesn't get confused.
  • Have reliable routines for nighttime sleep. For instance, sing a lullaby, read books or play quiet classical music to signal bedtime. (See also Good sleep habits for infants pt).
  • If you are nursing, try co-sleeping for your baby's most fussy times of the night. For many infants this is during the early morning hours. Being close to your infant may help both of you to sleep better.

A strong attachment is related to later adjustment. If you feel out of sync with your baby or your baby is very hard to soothe, talk to your pediatrician. They may have suggestions for small changes that will make your relationship better.

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