Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bonding with Partners: (be that him or her)

At birth a baby is fully expecting to continue the level of attachment s/he had while in the womb. Actually, they are ready for the next stage, sometimes called ‘a womb with a view’, but still motherbaby. They are not prepared to be independent on any level. They are the most helpless of all mammals at birth. We are actually beginning to write 'motherbaby' as one. We could also call it ‘motherbabyfather’ or ‘motherbabymother.’ Stop and think about it: they have been one all these months, and that bonding continuum should be ongoing during the next weeks and months. Our babies are not born mature enough to be without us at all. They are totally helpless, far more vulnerable than any other baby mammal at birth.

Have you ever wondered why we as humans have such large brains but start out as such helpless creatures? This one is obvious: we are smarter than any other animal. Part of the reason is that, yes, we are the most intelligent species, but our babies are born unprepared for survival. Our brains grow so fast before we are born, and into the first year, however, that if they kept growing until the rest of the body caught up and was as mature as, say, a calf is at birth, their heads would be far too large for the birth canal that they must pass through. Since our brains are so advanced, they grow faster in the first year than the brains of any other species. If we waited another 4 - 5 months or until they could crawl to deliver, our babies’ heads would be too big to fit our frames. So Mother Nature had a toss-up: make mothers’ hips even bigger than what we have now (Horrors!) or have babies born sooner than they are in reality ready for.

So, this makes it clear that they are not as mature as other little mammals and do need us constantly, even more than the offspring of other species. Nature knows this. Babies know this. Do we? We don’t act like we know it. Nature knew also, by the way, that baby elephants would not survive if they couldn't walk and keep up with the rest of the herd shortly after birth, and would likewise be eaten if left behind, so elephant mamas are pregnant for 2 years or until baby Babar can walk! And we complain about our 9 months' gestation. (A MUST see: The Dramatic Struggle for Life - Bali, on YouTube)

It is actually an illusion to imagine that our man- or woman-made time machine should likewise affect our babies, but we in fact do believe this. The truth is our babies are as immature at birth as our fore-mother Lucy’s were 3.18 million years ago. Consider Lucy (who currently resides at the Ethiopian National Museum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), whose babies had to be carried, and in constant contact with her, 24 hours a day, day and night, for at least 2 years or until they could walk. He had constant skin-to-skin contact; was in
constant proximity for eye contact with his mother or whatever member of the clan his mother was interacting with throughout the day – at an adult’s eye level, incidentally, and not lower as in a crib or stroller where faces suddenly appear to loom above his and just as quickly disappear.  He nursed on demand.  He had no need to cry. A grunt or his reaching for a breast would be enough of a sign. His mother had enough time connected to him that she could already easily ‘read’ any signals coming from him. He listened to his mother interacting with others all day long. We do not know when she began speaking directly to him, though. Perhaps it began when he spoke first, having listened to adult speech and figured out how it worked.

We now know that bonding is reciprocal. Even into the 21st century, however, we can read some authors who are still considering bonding a mother-led phenomenon, whereas it is actually reciprocal. When a baby searches his mother’s face, he is seeking her gaze in return. If her gaze is not there more times than it is, she has also given him a clear message: this is not how we humans interact, though she gives him no alternative solution. When he reaches out to touch her, he expects his hand will be held or carressed. When he first coos, a rewarding sound from his mother will encourage more early speech. If parents are engaged elsewhere either mentally or literally, while interacting with a cell phone or texting, for example, and those overtures from your baby are ignored, that, too, is a message: he isn’t being answered. Perhaps his voice may not be the best way to communicate after all. He’ll have another try at it first: cry louder, perhaps, to get the needed response. Or do something, anything, to get your attention. Sounds familiar? But back to Lucy. Bonding was the way to survival. Had she put her babies down, they would have been mauled or eaten. And we would not be here today.

Kangaroo care is a method of holding a baby that involves skin-to-skin contact. The baby, who is naked except for a diaper and a piece of cloth covering his or her back (either a receiving blanket or the parent's clothing), is placed in an upright position against a parent's bare chest. This snuggling of the infant inside the pouch of their parent's shirt, much like a kangaroo's pouch, led to the creation of the term "kangaroo care."

Kangaroo care came about as a response to the high death rate in preterm babies seen in Bogota, Columbia, in the late 1970s. There, the death rate for premature infants was 70 percent. The babies were dying of infections, respiratory problems, and simply due to lack of attention. Researchers found that babies who were held close to their mothers' bodies for large portions of the day, not only survived, but thrived. By using a carrier, your hands are free and you can get on with the business of living while your baby comes along for the ride: the place and activities he is expecting at this point in his continuum.

All of a baby’s bonding cues need to be met during the critical ‘in arms’ stage, or the time before they choose to wander farther and farther away from us as they gain confidence and the ability to first roll, then creep, crawl and finally walk. If they have been made to feel completely secure up until that point, they will have the self-assurance to begin exploring the world beyond the motherbaby bubble at the right time. By separating our babies from us over and over during the first days, weeks and months of life, they hardly feel secure or sure enough of their safety to ever want to let go. In the Western World we have decided to trust so-called experts in child care and development far too long. I always ask myself first when reading a new book on the subject: 1. did this person earn a doctorate degree through this study? and 2. how many children does s/he have? If the first question is answered with a ‘yes’ and the second with ‘none’ I am probably not going to read it at all or I will not put much stock in it, if I do.

The bonding cues that babies have been hard-wired with since Time Immemorial seal or solder their connections to their survival source: Parent. They imprint her odor immediately at birth. The first sense to kick in is smell. The early milk or colostrum actually smells like amniotic fluid and thus attracts the baby instantly to the breast for food = Survival. Without it, the little mammal knows it doesn’t stand a chance. Our human babies are born with the same sense of smell that baby sheep, and other herd animals are born with. Have you ever wondered how a little lamb finds its mother in a crowd? What if he gets lost on the way to a new pasture? He doesn’t just start nursing at the first engorged teat he sees. He smells each large animal he passes until he finds his own. As he grows and as he is sure his mother now knows his voice, he will call for her, knowing if she hears him, she too will be helping to reunite with him.

Our babies are born with a very good communication system, too, however, we often ignore it. When a human baby first grunts or fusses and then cries, he expects his language to be heard, interpreted as a need, and answered. If this doesn’t happen, he tries again, cranking up the volume. If his mother has been told that it is good for his lungs to cry or that he has to learn to go to sleep in his own room or sleep through the night, and she tries to ‘train’ him then he is led to believe she is simply gone. 
And he will grieve. If his communication system fails him over and over and over in the coming months, he will give up depending on it, clinging tighter when she does appear to avoid another terrifying experience of being left alone with a communication system that doesn’t work, even though it is all he has to work with and she is the only person in the entire universe that he is trying to communicate with. He will not ‘learn’ to self soothe himself or come to trust that she will appear at the proper times. He is not that smart yet. He might be given and bond with a blankie or a soft teddy bear which he will not let out of his sight – a sorry substitute for a mother. 

Touch, I believe is the most important of all bonding behaviors. Smell, taste, sound, and eye-to-eye contact follow. Now there are a few authors that we should learn from. One of them is my favorite midwife in the U.K., Carolyn Flint, (below) former president of the Royal College of Midwives who recently said, “Women can give birth perfectly well on their own without interference.” Britain's most famous midwife says ALL babies should be born at home (and most geniuses were...) Her new book, Do Birth, is a guide to giving birth for mothers.

Britain's most famous midwife, who has delivered babies for celebrities including Thandie Newton, Davina McCall and Stella Tennant, says birth in Britain has become industrialized and should be stripped back to a simpler and more natural experience. Caroline Flint, 71, from Vauxhall in London has said she believes all babies should be given the opportunity to enter the world at home during a 'normal' and non-medical birth.

Caroline Flint believes all babies should have the opportunity to be born at home, and her new book, Do Birth, is a guide to giving birth for new mothers, not people within the profession. She added: “I think if women could start off with a midwife in their home, whether they are high-risk or low-risk, and then if she needs to go into hospital, she can go with them; Much less intimidating. A brutal entry into the world, where the baby is pulled out of his mother's body, accompanied by loud voices and bright lights, and then rubbed with a rough towel, teaches this oh-so-sensitive baby that the world is a tough place where he may not always be welcome.” Flint also says the theory that children born at home will not flourish academically (compared to those born in hospitals) is nonsense.

'Think of every genius you have ever heard of and the likelihood is that they will have been born at home - Mozart, Beethoven, Einstein, Elgar.'

She says, “My life experience is that things very, very, very, very, very, very, very rarely go wrong', Flint also explains that some women have such an enjoyable experience giving birth that they can even reach orgasm - and the best place for this to happen is in the home. She says: “After the birth you will snuggle in bed with your beloved partner and gaze at your baby, telling each other how very clever you are...fragrant, joyful and transcendent.” She adds: “I can't imagine becoming sexually aroused in a brightly lit hospital. Can you?”

In her childbirth education series Ms. Flint teaches about bonding and falling in love with your baby.
(see: YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGTEg25bX9Q Carolyn suggests that you go home after your baby is born if you aren’t there already, take off all of your clothes –because the skin contact triggers your oxytocin output, the ‘love hormone’ -- and your baby’s clothes (nappies or diapers allowed) and go to bed with your baby mammal. Staying there for 14 days will ensure continuum bonding, establish the right milk supply, and give you time to recover properly. We are the only mammals who dress our babies at birth, and ask “where will my baby sleep?” and “what should I feed my baby?”

In his book entitled Touching: the Human Significance of the Skin Ashley Montagu has found enough to say about touch and skin-to-skin contact as crucial to our species to fill all of 494 pages (not to mention all the other books he has authored!) Written in 1971 I believe it is even more needed today in the 21st Century than we realize. We have more children with more problems than ever before in history, yet we claim more medical and scientific advances than ever. Why has no one questioned this troubling sequence of our so-called progress? Do we take our evolution for granted and assume we are constantly improving through osmosis in spite of the devastating statistics on the state of children and mothers throughout the world while they continue to escalate? We have the capacity to research and promote change, but how and why have we taken so many steps backwards in our understanding of our most primal needs?

By meeting those needs at the proper time and in the proper sequence, I believe we would avoid some of the most troubling consequences that we see and that we are apparently mystified by today.

Montagu begins the preface to the 3rd addition by saying that, “We in the Western World are beginning to discover our neglected senses. This growing awareness represents something of an overdue insurgency against the painful deprivation of sensory experience we have suffered in our technologized world. The ability of Western man [and woman – ed.] to relate to her/his fellow human beings has lagged far behind his ability to relate to consumer goods and the unnecessary necessities which hold him in thrall – possessed by his possessions. He can reach out to other planets, but too often he cannot reach out to his fellowman. His personal frontiers seldom, if at all permit the passage of a deeply felt communication across them. The human
dimension is constricted and constrained. Through what other media, indeed, than our senses can we enter into that healthy tissue of human contacts, the universe of human existence. We seem to be unaware that it is our senses that frame the body of our reality. To shut off any one of the senses is to reduce the dimensions of our reality, and to the extent that that occurs we lose touch with it; we become imprisoned in a world of impersonal words, sans touch, sans taste, sans flavor. The one-dimensionality of the world becomes a substitute for the richness of the multidimensionality of the senses, and our world grows crass, flat, and arid in consequence.”

Having thus established that touch is most likely the first and foremost sense to require attention at birth in order for bonding to follow in its intended order, how is that accomplished? Well, let’s look at what happens at the moment of birth: The midwife or doctor, or father or partner or the mother herself instinctually reaches for her baby and immediately attempts to bring the child to her arms and then her chest. The only time this does not happen is when the baby does not appear to be breathing and the birth team assesses that s/he
needs assistance to do so. In most hospitals, the baby is immediately brought to a warmer which has been preheated and is high enough for access by the nurse or pediatrician. They will suction the baby’s mouth and then nostrils while at the same time reciting the protocols for resuscitation in their minds: heart rate, color, muscle tone, respiration, cyanosis (areas still blue), and will act accordingly, either initiating further interventions to help the baby get started or if she has sufficiently recovered will be returned to the mother where she and baby left off: being held on her mother’s chest. At this point I usually make sure that the mother is ready for this and 99% of the time she is, but occasionally a mother needs a few moments to also recover especially after a particularly traumatic or very long birth and then I suggest that her partner remove her/his shirt and holding the baby skin-to-skin cover her with a warm blanket. Again, in a perfect scenario, a mother or partner usually begins talking to the baby next. This is the mother’s cue to the baby to reassure her that she is in the right place and that the birth is over and she is safe. If this has indeed happened and the baby feels instinctually that all is right with his little world, he is free to go on to the next stage in the continuum. He will begin to smell his mother or other parent’s unique odor. I personally think this will work to its optimum intended effect if artificial fragrances are avoided at birth. Powder, deodorant, perfume, cologne, and hairspray may confuse the little nose trying to imprint his new environment. Clothes washed and dried in artificially perfumed soap and fragrant dryer sheets should be removed.

Your baby’s next task is to take in his mother’s voice which he is already familiar with. Babies hear a muffled version of everything that has been going on for the past 9 months. It is interesting that we have devised a special tone for this early communication with our babies. It is the higher pitched sounds or ‘baby talk’ that we notice that our babies respond to better than monotone or lower sounding speech. Called Motherese, most cultures employ this type of verbal bonding, first by a parent speaking to the baby often right at birth and then in response to sounds he makes, either in answer to your prompting or later on his own initiative.


Your baby will then be ready for the next step: imprinting important tastes that will continue to assure her that bonding and survival are happening right on Nature’s schedule. I believe that Nature makes no mistakes. Everything is programmed into that tiny brain to work according to a specific plan. The same workings are present in the mother, though we have succeeded in overriding most of those through our misguided intellects. Again, we have listened to the so-called ‘experts’ and not our instincts when it comes to raising children and meeting their inherent needs.

Our baby will now move on to the work of surviving. He will begin to lick his mother’s skin in order to imprint this next needed connection within the continuum. At the same time he will smell that enticing colostrum which is a miracle substance in its own rite. High in antibodies and sticky and thick enough to thoroughly coat his gut on the way down, it will protect him from any rogue germs that might be present in his new environment. It will act as a laxative and help dispel whatever meconium is in his intestines, hastening the work his liver and kidneys have begun to purge themselves of the waste products that have accumulated there during his internment in the womb until now. His stomach is no bigger than a marble on his first day of life, so filling it with anything other than a few teaspoons of colostrum every hour or so will tip the very delicate balance that is in place there. In our lactation course which prepares us to become certified consultants we learned that by introducing sugar water or baby formula at this stage and especially more that those few teaspoons, but trying to force-feed a whopping 4 ounce bottle of anything can cause micro-hemorrhages in the newborn’s gastro-intestinal tract. No wonder doctors were pushing iron drops for all newborns during the 70s and 80s and even into the 1990s because their iron levels were dropping. What they did not realize though, until much later, was that they were the cause of the anemia by giving babies far too much too soon of the wrong stuff for their systems. Let’s leave this to Mother Nature, please. Your baby can also practice his sucking skills on the small droplets of colostrum without being deluged by buckets of milk choking him while he is trying to get the hang of it.

My Quaker friends once told me that they have a saying: Breastfeeding is perfect because it is always warm, it is always ready, and it is up high where the cats can’t get it!

By day three his stomach is the size of a walnut, about 1 ½ ounces; still not very big. Your baby was saturated in water for nine whole months. Babies do not need to eat yet. Unless your baby has high sugar levels due to hypoglycemia he can still work on getting the colostrum and more mature milk as your breasts begin to produce it. By giving your baby a pacifier or bottle at this point you will very likely run into what we call ‘nipple confusion’. As much as your partner would wish to have a turn feeding their baby, I would strongly caution against it for now. I don’t think pumping your milk at all is a good idea at this point either.
The milk supply is triggered by the baby himself creating a demand if all of his sucking is done at your breast and not on a Nuk or bottle filled at a breast pump machine. He will demand the right amount of milk according to his needs, continually adjusting that as he grows. Four weeks is the recommended time frame to be giving only the breast in the beginning while you are both learning how to breastfeed and bringing the supply up to what will be needed.
Adopted babies can also be breastfed. If you have ever been pregnant, even if that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage or loss, you may be able to induce lactation or ‘re-lactate’. This is when the breasts are stimulated enough to trigger the release of oxytocin in the brain and begin to once again produce milk. If the pregnancy ended, for example, 6 months ago, it may be that 6 more months will be needed to bring your milk supply up to full tilt once more. Some people have used an oxytocin nasal spray while using a breast pump to help signal the let-down reflex with some success. Even without a former pregnancy, any woman can let a baby suck to pacify himself. This was first observed by Dr. Margaret Mead in the 1950s in New Guinea. Native grandmothers would re-lactate when their own daughters had just given birth and they would let their newborn grandchildren nurse at their breasts while giving their daughters needed rest.
See: Extraordinary Breastfeeding https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YHO9lzDt9w

Another scenario is that a woman has had breast reduction surgery and that at the time the areolae and nipples were removed during the operation and then re-attached. You will not be able to establish a milk supply in this case, because the milk ducts were severed but you can still nurse your baby. If you have never lactated or been pregnant, you can still nurse and properly bond with your baby, whether you adopt or have chosen another arrangement. I would suggest that babies always nurse from their birth mother for at least the first 6 months. Two years would be ideal, though. (In the U.K. Parliament recently enacted a bill that strongly encourages all mothers to breastfeed for 2 years and has paved the way for employers and policy makers to follow suit with appropriate accommodations in the workplace and in public.) Should your partner want that experience too, don’t make the 2nd maternal parent’s primary task to nurse the baby with his birth mother being assigned the part of carrying him to term. He needs plenty of breast milk first and foremost for optimum growth. But there are ways a never-pregnant mother or partner, adoptive mother or a woman who has experienced radical breast reduction surgery can nurse.

Any baby who has been consistently breastfed will attempt to latch even if it is on a different breast than they originally started on. It may have a different shaped nipple and he may need several attempts to get it, but it usually will work unless the newer breasts have inverted nipples. A breast shield might help make nursing possible or even correct the nipple. You can also roll the nipple manually, encouraging it to stay erect long enough for the baby to latch onto. A baby who has been only bottle fed, as is the case when coming from an orphanage or foster home will not know how to latch properly and may go on strike when offered the breast. Sometimes by feeding a bottle-fed baby a bottle first and then switching to the breast while they are dozing off and very relaxed might work. Milk flows out of most bottles much faster and with less effort on the baby’s part than breast milk so keep in mind that your baby may expect and demand the easier of the two should you try to offer a bottle and then try to go back to breastfeeding. A plastic nipple shield will feel more like a bottle to a bottle-fed-first baby. You can also find bottle nipples with smaller holes, usually designed for preemies, which will flow more slowly and help a bottle fed baby transition to the breast more easily. See: http://www.babycenter.com/404_how-do-i-know-which-bottle-nipple-is-best-for-my-baby_1334551.bc

While I was in midwifery school in the 1980s in Texas (see at this blog the March story, “What a midwife should not do: A lesson in destroying bonding”) I caught a baby one afternoon whose mother had decided to give him up for adoption, a very difficult decision to make. I was doing my internship in preparation for the state boards that year at a freestanding birthing clinic on the Mexican border. A beautiful 8 pound baby, I knew that the mother wanted to see him, but chose not to hold him. Her own mother was there to support her, so after the birth, I took him to my bunk in the dorm where we students stayed during our time there. I wanted him to know he was loved and would soon have a family but they were not coming until the next day after his mother had gone home. We had no nurses on duty and really had no other facilities like a nursery much less an isolette or crib. We had sterile water and a bottle or two on hand, but I had never used them for any of my 5 babies, so the idea popped into my head that I could let him nurse on me until his new family came. I got permission to keep him with me and, sure enough, he latched on and stayed there most of that night. I doubt if I had much milk, though I had only weaned my last baby a month earlier. I cried when I lay down with him, his perfect little brown body against mine in that narrow bunk bed. I could only hope they wanted him and would love him, too. When they came the next morning with their social worker, I brought him to his new parents and explained how we had let him nurse and that was an option, should his new mom want to explore the possibility. I gave her the following information, should she choose to. It seemed to thoroughly confuse her, though I think adopting your first baby might alone be mind-boggling enough for the first day.

In the early 1970s an adoptive mother, Jimmie Lynne Avery, of Athens, Tennessee together with her husband came up with a revolutionary way for adoptive mothers to breastfeed. It is a tube feeding system created to supplement baby at the breast while nursing. It consists of a bag or container to hold supplemental formula (or breast milk if you are lucky enough to have a source for it. Contact your local La Leche League first for sources.) A tube reaches from the bag to the nipple at the breast and baby suckles the breast and tube together. This assures adequate nutrition and helps maintain or re-establish breastfeeding. It lets the baby stimulate the breasts more effectively and as milk increases, the supplemental milk is decreased. It trains baby to stimulate the sucking reflexes for improved coordination and skill. It also avoids overtiring and frustrating a baby while you are working at building up a milk supply. See http://www.lact-aid.com/ 
Again, I would stress using exclusive breastfeeding from one source only during the first crucial 4 weeks at least. I have been called in to consult on problems when babies have gone on strike and refused to latch when mothers have left Vaseline or lanolin cream on their sore nipples. You should wash off any lotions before nursing. They can taste funny and put a baby off. When bathing, too, be sure to completely rinse off any soap or shampoo. Newborns latch best when you express the first drop of milk and let him smell and taste what is coming. A baby has to wrap his tongue around a pacifier differently from a bottle nipple (no matter how ‘like mother’ they promise it is) and then again differently from a breast shield or a breast. Some people settle a frantic, hungry baby by putting a little finger into his mouth and letting him calm down before nursing, but then once again, his tongue has to re-think how to create suction in order to suck from the finger without losing it. No wonder we see so much nipple confusion. Even when using a nipple shield to give cracked or sore nipples a chance to heal, they work best if you express a little colostrum or milk into the inside of the nipple and drip or rub on a little on the outside where your baby will be sucking from before placing it on your breast.

Sleeping with your baby is also how Nature intended bonding to happen. Contrary to all the dire warnings, we now know that babies and parents both get far more sleep if they are in the same room if not in the same bed.
See: http://cosleeping.nd.edu/safe-co-sleeping-guidelines/ and www.cnn.com/HEALTH/9703/21/nfm/family.bed/

Noted physician and author Dr. Benjamin Spock, years ago popularized the notion that stern bedtime routines are essential in raising children to be independent and well-behaved. Many pediatricians still urge parents to follow that advice. Many parents insist on their own space and privacy. And there's a strong case to be made that both children and parents sleep better when the kids have their own beds. Some parents have an open-door policy, where children are allowed into the parents' bed if they ask. But a growing number of parents feel strongly that the best way to nurture children is a return to old-fashioned bed sharing. It is also interesting that it is only in Western cultures that we ask: where will my baby sleep and what should I feed my baby? The rest of the world doesn’t seem to have a problem with this.

Consider the Lilyerd family: Faye, Jerry, 6-year-old Aaron and 2-year-old Sara sleep together every night. "I find that after a really rough day, it's a relief to be able to go to bed," Faye Lilyerd said. "It's a relief to be able to go to bed. We can all lay down, read some stories and either relax and just enjoy each other in that peaceful time." Jerry Lilyerd agrees. "Why, for such a short period of time, should you make somebody that's small and young sleep by himself?" "I just love that big bed," the 6-year-old says. But there are obvious pitfalls to the arrangement. What about sex, for instance? "That's never really been an issue," Jerry Lilyerd says. "If we want to be private or whatever we come downstairs." "Anyone who doubts whether you can have more children when you have a family bed, go talk to those people who figured it out," Tine Thevenin says. "You'll figure it out." But figuring out when to wean the children from the practice isn't always a simple matter. "That's always a worry," says Dr. William Sears. "Will they ever leave our bed? Yes, they do leave your bed" he promises. See: http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/9703/21/nfm/family.bed/ and http://www.parenting.com/article/the-family-bed

Another good time to bond is when you bathe your baby. I would have my husband David get into the tub first and then hand him one baby at a time (we had a toddler and then twins. See “Twin Birth on the Farm” at this blog.)  If he wasn’t home I would get in the tub with them. I could scrub one at a time without breaking my back and we would all have fun at the same time.

Of course, wearing your baby(ies) is tantamount to bonding. There must be as many varieties of baby carriers as there are countries in the world. Most free your hands so that you can continue doing whatever you need to without feeling like you have to entertain your little person constantly. Actually they don’t expect to be given stimulating activities throughout the day. Rather the opposite is true. They are only simple observers at this stage in the beginning, just taking in how life and relationships work. They use their eyes, ears, taste, touch and smell to process all that is going on around them. They could hardly take in much more if it was up to them and we often think we need to further engage them but we don’t. They would become over-stimulated and we see them trying to push away or cry away what is simply too much, and then we don’t read those cues very well. Too many options offered at this age are overwhelming. "What do you want to eat? Cookie or banana? Which book do you want to read? Which song? Which toy? What new activity? What should Mommy do? What do you want?" This is clearly shown in the beautiful movie, “Everybody Loves … Babies” by director Thomas Balm├Ęs. I show this DVD in my childbirth education classes to bring attention to these bonding and non-bonding behaviors in particular. I find it quite interesting that the babies from the two so-called Third World countries in the film appear happier and better adjusted little people as they grow up in spite of far less toys and parent-sponsored activities compared to the babies in the U.S. and Japan. I will be exploring baby wearing more in the chapter, “Wear Your Baby!” in my upcoming book.

Again, I can only stress that we already have in place a natural continuum that is everything our babies need, if only we would open our hearts and not more books (unless of course those books show us how to open our hearts.) And once again I can remind new parents that they cannot multi-task during the critical first months of parenting. We need to pay attention to the cues that your  baby(ies) are using and learn to recognize and respond to them. The progression of those cues will only lead us to raise children who feel secure and loved without undue stress, especially on the part of his parents.

STAY TUNED... This and other stories will be appearing the book, Stone Age Babies in a Space Age World:§ Babies and Bonding in the 21st Century,© pending by Stephanie Sorensen

§This phrase was first coined by Dr. James McKenna, used here with permission and gratitude for his work. 
A world-renowned expert on infant sleep – in particular the practice of bed sharing, he is studying SIDS and co-sleeping at his mother-infant sleep lab at Notre Dame University. He is the author of “Sleeping With Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Co-sleeping,” 2007, Platypus Media, Washington, D.C.

“We have bigger houses, but smaller families; More conveniences, but less time; We have more degrees, but less sense; More knowledge, but less judgement; More experts, but more problems; More medicines, but less healthiness; We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but we have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We built more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication. We have become long on quantity, but short on quality. These are the times of fast food, but slow digestion; Tall men but short character; Steep profits but shallow relationships. It is a time when there is much in the window, but nothing in the room.”

 ~ XIV Dalai Lama

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