I asked parents of babies and toddlers about their experiences, challenges, and insights. This post summarizes some of the insights they have developed as parents.
Babies are strong! As one mom put it: At the beginning, I was so worried about something happening to her. But she kept showing me that babies are strong! She never got sick. She came to us with her own personality, her likes and dislikes, and a strong will. I realized she was already a whole person and my job was just to find out and to nurture who she already was. Sometimes my husband and I would just be exhausted and ready to fall apart from taking care of a new baby and feel like we couldn’t make it– but, we would go get her out of bed and she would just be smiling and ready for the day! I just kept thinking “gosh, she’s so strong!”
Trust the baby to tell you what s/he needs! One mom told me: It took a little time to get to know her, but now I can pretty easily read her signs. I know when she’s tired or hungry. I feel like I understand her and can be ready to take care of her needs, wherever we are. We’re pretty in sync now. Wherever we go, I make sure I have food and water when she needs it, or a place for her to sleep.
Trust your intuition! As one mom put it:
I’ve learned that you need to tap into your intuition more. There’s a part of you that somehow knows what’s true for your child, and it’s not always logical or something that other people would see. I had an experience with my older daughter where she was having abdominal pains and it just seemed like it was appendicitis. We took her to the hospital and they did some tests and concluded she was mostly just constipated and sent us home. So, I did all the things to help address constipation and she was feeling better, but I just kept feeling like she had appendicitis. Five days later, I took her back to get more tests and we found out that her appendix had burst and required surgery. It was an unusual situation—I suspect that her appendix burst five days prior when we took her to the doctor but, amazingly, an abscess formed around it and protected her from becoming really ill. I really feel my prayers helped to protect her, and it also taught me to have confidence in my instincts when it comes to my children.
They learn a lot from watching! Every parent I spoke with commented about this at some point in our conversations.
Moms with their first babies said:
- My (six month old) baby just loves to watch me. I do a lot of “baby-wearing” and my daughter just watches everything I do so closely. I might be washing the dishes and she just finds it fascinating!
- I realize that she mostly learns by watching me more than by my telling her. So I try to handle things in a way I would want to teach her to handle things. I really try to be conscientious about the fact that she learns from what I do more than from what I say.
A mom talking about their second child said:
- My baby watches his older brother all the time. He is just absolutely fascinated and entranced watching his brother and he learns so much from watching him.
What is one insight you have had as a parent of an infant or toddler that you think could help a new parent?
Ginny Trierweiler, Ph.D. is the author of babiesarepeople.com