Loving is Vital in the Crucial First Five Years of a Child’s Life. It is the love and input a child receives from parents and carers in the first five years of life which will define the nature of the adult.
If a loving, protective and stable environment is not provided at this vulnerable time, a small child could be permanently and adversely affected. This is not simply an emotional consideration, but a biological, physical and psychological one. The complexity of a child’s brain controlling his or her future abilities is determined by the attention and stimulation received during the first two years of life.
When a baby or young child feels loved, secure, respected and understood they will usually have greater confidence to face the outside world. The aim is to make your baby feel the most irresistible child in the world and loved unconditionally.
Finding out whether your very young baby likes to be gently rocked in your arms or placed on their tummy for a short space of time to have a kick, when their nappy is being changed, develops an understanding of their needs within the first few weeks of getting to know them.
Once a baby is old enough to hold their head up, encourage them to sit upright for short periods of time, in your arms, in a baby chair or supported by cushions on the floor. Never leave a baby unattended when first learning to sit up.
Sitting babies up for short periods of time, early in their lives, encourages them to see things the right way up and their brains will develop a correct view of the world, right from the time they first open their eyes. When babies are young, place them with you in different rooms, where they can observe you while you work as they do not enjoy being left alone for anything more than a short period of time; they like to be able to view their parent or carer.
At even a few weeks old a baby likes to observe familiar objects. Place a favourite toy, book or object where they can appreciate and enjoy looking at it. Black and white books or toys at first then several weeks on in their development brightly coloured toys and objects near by can draw their attention.
A great deal of essential communication happens through body language and facial expression, Say things like, ‘I think you need your nappy changed’ or ‘Oh dear you must be getting tired’. Research shows the earlier you put a baby’s feelings into words, the more secure they are likely to become.
Responding, to your baby’s needs with soothing words and conversing with them from birth is a comfort even if they do not understand what the words mean. It is important to explain that you are changing their nappy, undressing them to have a bath or just chatting generally. It is through listening and observing that they learn to smile, laugh, talk, grasp, play and eventually occupy themselves for short periods of time.
Babies begin by touching objects accidentally and eventually realising that they are making the objects move and that they have the power to influence their surroundings. They also learn through their senses, hearing, listening to your voice, music and song, observing your face and objects around them, followed by touching, feeling and eventually grasping and holding, e.g. having a rattle placed in their hand.
Once babies master the grasping reflex they will enjoy being handed objects to play with. The time you spend actively encouraging your baby to enjoy new experiences and sensations will be time well spent as the nerve-endings in the brain continue to forge new connections.
‘Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain’
By Dr Sue Gerhardt Psychotherapist
See article: Crying babies ‘more likely to grow into problem children’
By Jenny Hope Medical Correspondent.