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Infants » Newborn Development

Child Care and Home Care Tips for Understanding Infant Health, Infant Learning and Early Development

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Infants are humans, born with two sides of a brain, two sides of a body, and potential for incalculable, amazing growth potential!   Human beings are born and start out life the same way. We are not horses, dust mites, or poison ivy!  You were a newborn, a fact you can never forget or remember, and all you can do as parents and caregivers, is study the effects of the experience.

As newborns, we are brought out and cared for, some well but most not, healthy for some but not for all.  Health decided by style of living, family attitudes, and environments, life choices, caregivers know about caring for infants and this short primer helps parents to learn. 

How much do you know?  Keep reading! In the early weeks and months of life after birth, infant’s have a drive to thrive!  … Every infant shows a capacity for endless movements, social skills, capacity for love and attention, deep emotional attachment and   communication skills!  Caregivers and parents are amazed by sounds, guttural laughs, wiggles, twists and head turns, hand grasping, eye gazing, staring, cuddling, kicking and changes of position, facial expressions, right from the moment of birth!

            The infant police including parents and caregivers, are always looking for ways to show parents and caregivers how to help infants establish sleep and eat patterns, instead of crying, restless movements, and other signs of distress.

             Caregivers, moms and dads,  helpers and relatives are essentially “on guard” for the first nine months of a baby’s life to look, feed, talk and follow the lead of the infants in there care!              

            Parents and caregivers may apply gentle body massages, gentle snuggling and vocalizing, lifting infants up and down up, putting them down, swaying and moving sidewise, and more. 

            It is just as important to attend to temperature changes, room lights or darkness changes, varying types of swaddling as it is to talk to infants, as if they are curious visitors, “kings and queens,” visiting this foreign country for the first time!

             Infants “need” conversation as much as food. The best feeding and eating positions are holding, sitting in a high or low –strapped -in- chair, breastfeeding, lap sitting, facing caregiver or parent all while trying various changes of position.

            I recommend parents and caregivers attend quickly to crying.   Prompt attention to infant distress provides for infants emotional and social security to infant, so they are able to wait briefly to get their needs met, and affords secure infants the ability to wait later in toddlerhood for their demands to be met! 

             Babies who are attached to a variety of adults feeding them, engaging them and keeping to a schedule, talk earlier, laugh and reach earlier, wiggle and yell for food more often, and look around their environments and smile more often.

            I refer  parents and caregivers to observe infant sleep patterns in the six stages, described by Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, Boston Children’s’ hospital, which shows the stages of sleep from deep to shallow, used by babies!  It is a rhythm of life that awake and sleep states cycle themselves through the day of a newborn! 

           Babies need 12 -14 hours of calm, dark and quiet sleep, few changes of light, air and temperature, and periods of non- interrupted rest, insuring the body and brain have time to readjust, preparing for new activity!   Infants become irritable, tired, irritated and fatigued quickly, but they push themselves!  Finally, they literally collapse into motionless and quiet stages of sleep!  Then suddenly……..with smart parents guiding them, they come back to life, arouse themselves are ready for…… feeding and eating, chatting and socializing,  these are the  rewards for infants who then awaken and look for activities that are energizing and active! 

            Babies, who have little to eat, do not suck, yell, cry or otherwise vocalize.  They have more mental and emotional delays than babies who enjoy all these experiences that keep them active and alive!  We know this is true because babies orphaned at birth, have no familiar personal caregiver  to feed or play or show them play objects, or move them about, resulting in dull, quiet and passive behaviors.

            Without these skills, infants fail tests of arousal, engagement, attachment, need for warmth, exercise, touch and tenderness.

            A baby’s brain needs hourly doses of sights, sounds, movement, sleep and rest and activities repeated over and over, in order to establish a routine and a sense of self-regulation, or in baby language, the feeling that they are in control of their body and brains!  Young babies have very little self- control: they cry, wail, shriek, kick and scream, and kick feet.

            This description reminds parents their infant has reached the point of exhaustion and craves sleep! From deep sleep to quick and shallow naps, there are always

stimulating experiences ahead!  Quiet voices come first, then, soft-speak, then, hum, causing vibration in your voice, such as a whisper, kiss or bzzzz.

            Now for the activity revival, after mother, father and infant have rested, Susan’s most productive and lifelong rule is always to offer two toys, two crackers, two shoes, two hands together, two of everything to make babies smarter and more ready for socializing and entering in the human race!     

            While bathing an infant, encourage splashing and talking at the same time! Two activities at once…always two at one time!  

            In the daily routine of living with an infant, as energizing it is to have an infant, there also must be quiet, darkness, soft blanket and toys, soft animals etc. These soft toys allow infants to smile, turn heads, kick and vocalize as part of being a newborn, good for the infant’s self-development, set in the brain as habits that are familiar and comfortable after infancy has ended.

            Habits formed in later infancy are less likely to produce characteristics such as easy-going, gentle personality types, due to anxiety and confusion of early infancy and lack of response to needs and wants. However, all infants who are, by definition, born in the warmth protection of the womb, are in ceaseless motion, thriving on motion, reaching, verbalizing, touching, moving, searching, demanding and startling.

            This is why caregivers and parents refer to the newborn and youngest infants as “demanding consumers!   They arrive with a set of reflexes, setting  off responses such as blinks, smiles, jerks, hiccups, snorts, screams, move’s and more! 

Ask Dr. Susan