What does a baby REALLY need?
During the first few months of baby’s life our gentle caresses, hugs, and kisses are more important than any designer swing or fancy early learning toy. Our touch and time are baby’s primary want and need. Here are seven sensational ways my husband and I keep our baby close and leave the stuff behind.
Keep the BABY – Leave the STUFF!
1. Keep talking, singing, and reading to your baby. It is impossible to let your baby hear your voice too much. As an added bonus, baby doesn’t mind if you want to share your latest office memo accented with fun inflections and elephant noises or tonelessly
sing the directions on the back of the pasta box. All the words sound good to baby as long as they are in your voice!
Leave the flashcards and expensive computer programs geared towards making baby smarter, faster. Not only do most experts agree that they don’t work, but some express concerns that rushing baby may actually do more harm than good.
2. Keep physically interacting with baby and encouraging baby to track and reach for fingers and toes. Move back and forth in front of baby and across the room to aid in baby learning to track. Offer baby a finger to grasp or a simple rattle to hold.
Leave toys designed to help strengthen baby’s neck muscles. Typically an easy to grab finger or rattle and a safe place to play on the floor are all that is needed.
3. Keep letting baby explore sense of touch. Let baby experience the difference between terry cloth towels, bed sheets, your hair, pet fur, and skin.
Leave expensive baby blankets and fancy clothes. Designer clothes and blankets either don’t get used or if they manage to avoid spit ups and diaper blow outs in the early months, typically meet an untimely death once baby starts solid foods. Think avocado green and sweet potato orange!
4. Keep baby close and take the time to really enjoy snuggles. Close contact and skin to skin are thought by many experts to be one of the biggest influencers in allowing baby to bond well with his/her parents.
Leave the expensive crib, the designer mattress, and the adorable quilt that matches the nursery décor. Baby doesn’t care if the crib was purchased at a specialty store or a hand me down from friends. There is no guarantee that the more you spend increases the likelihood that baby will sleep well. Large or heavy comforters and too much stuff in a crib or other sleep area can actually be a suffocation risk.
5. Keep room for baby to safely spend some belly time. Let baby push against your hands, bicycle baby’s legs, and pedal his/her feet. All of these actions help baby gain experience with motion, and as a bonus the change in positions and movement can also help with gas.
Leave the giant stuffed animals and heavy furniture out of baby’s reach. Large, heavy items can be a huge safety hazard and take up precious floor space needed for baby to explore movement.
6. Keep face time with baby and enjoy gazing into his/her eyes. Make fun faces, stick out your tongue, or raise your eyebrows. Even the youngest babies will get a kick out of this interaction and some will even mirror your movements.
Leave the fancy flashing and motorized toys for much later if ever. Babies can be easily over stimulated and are often much happier with simple low-tech exchanges with you.
7. Keep dancing with baby. The rhythmic rocking and swaying of dance is often very soothing for baby. Some children, like my own Itty Bitty really enjoy playing airplane or bouncing on the knee.
Leave the more expensive compilations of baby specific music. Baby will develop their own tastes and in the meantime introduce baby to yours. It’s a lot more fun to sing along to music you enjoy and chances are baby will like it too!
Baby stuff is awesome. It’s all so cute and cuddly and new, but the “stuff” baby really needs comes from us and not the specialty shops
and department store. Never let the stuff, or lack of stuff keep you from enjoying your newborn!
Wishing you joy in parenting and life,
Erika ~ Prey Species
Erika is the girl you used to see climbing trees in a glittery tiara and pink tutu with giant holes in her red tights. She still mixes pink and red in her wardrobe, but now she does it as a momma in pajamas searching for more coffee. She loves to make crème brulle, but routinely burns the baby food. She’s a lifelong learner, avid reader, animal lover, and has a major crush on her husband. In a prior life, she wore scrubs and a snazzy business suit with high heels. She blogs at Prey Species and would love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest!
It is so important to stop and truly focus on our children and our children’s needs and not all of the THINGS that we all think (or are so often told) they need. Thanks for the reminder, Erika!
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The Monko says
This is a really helpful post for new mums, its difficult to believe that all you really need is yourself, one good blanket and a bit of floor to entertain your baby. I’m sharing this on the Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board,
Mud Hut Mama says
I couldn’t agree more! For my oldest daughter’s first year we moved around a lot so everything we owned had to fit into the car. She had a car seat, an Ergo carrier, a pack n play with a mosquito net and not much more. She thrived!
Erika ~ Prey Species says
Penny, Veronica, and Sanz –
Thank you so much for the wonderful comments! They mean a lot 🙂 Penny I’m so excited for you to have a granddaughter! Itty Bitty is my mother’s first grandchild and she is loving her! Sanz and Veronica, I think you both are correct – that these practices can extend beyond the baby years – I look forward to continuing to interact closely with my Itty Bitty as she grows – it’s happening so quickly! 🙂
I absolutely agree! I think these principles apply to older children as well. Leave the battery operated toys and let them play with sticks and rocks and dirt! I typically have the radio off in the car if I’m with my children as well. Sometimes there isn’t much conversation, sometimes there is great conversation that I know we would have missed out on had the radio been on.
This is true for babies and really lifelong beings. I think many families do focus on the greater levels of interaction with babies to help increase bonding but just imagine if we made a lifelong diligent effort to continue this practice, oh to dream!!!!! Great suggestions!!!! Really helps to level out the parenting playing field to show no matter your income, we all have the resources and capabilities to give our babies what is best:)
Penny Roach says
I absolutely LOVED this post and could not agree more. I have a 3 month granddaughter and have given my daughter the same advice. Less is MORE. Babies want you…they don’t know what all that stuff is about anyway. And there’s just no substitute for personal contact.
Thanks for writing this….you’ll make a FABULOUS mommy!!
Penny at Green Moms and Kids