The secret to happiness in later life: Get to know your baby

In the book, Brain Rules for Baby, the author John Medina talks about the Romanian Orphan Crisis where thousands of children were abandoned in orphanages after banning abortion and birth control. These children had little contact with loving adults and often grew up with crippling developmental disabilities.

This living experiment taught us that the first four months of life are incredibly important for babies. When children were adopted before four months by loving families, they showed little to no signs of abuse in later life. When they were adopted after eight months, however, they suffered like their counterparts who were never adopted.

The conclusion: developing a deep sense of safety, or attachment, is the basis for a happy life. Attachment parenting is a strategy to get to know you child and develop mutual trust. It involves spending time to get to know your baby by wearing them in a sling, breastfeeding, co-sleeping and other bonding activities. As I put the mindset behind AP in practice with my son, I begin to see the rewards.  (Visit the website of guru Dr. Sears for more on how to help your child develop attachment bonds.)

Becoming a mother he can trust

My dear husband was away this week for work, and I decided to put everything on hold to spend time with my son. I let days of napping with him, shopping, walking and play be 100% OK. I worked hard to listen to his cries and assumed that he was always trying to tell me something rather than fussing for no reason. I took him from people when I saw he was distressed rather than waiting for them to pass him off and generally stepped up my game as a confident mother and adult.

The more I get to know Bodhi, the more I realize he rarely cries for no reason. His basic needs to sleep, eat, learn, pee, poo, be clean and a good temperature, exercise, and connect are not too much to ask. Here are some things I learned about him this week, many of them related to strides taken with Elimination Communication:

  • When he wakes at 4:30 a.m. and again at 6 a.m., it is to pee. One great big long difficult pee that he has held all night. He has woken and fussed for hours in the early morning since well before we were practicing Elimination Communication (EC). What a relief for us both!
  • Occasionally, he wakes suddenly in tears. Every time he did this, this past week, I took him for a great big long pee. When he wakes suddenly, he almost always goes right back to sleep after going to the bathroom or nursing.
  • In the morning, he likes to pee, lie in bed and chat with me and then go back to sleep. Before EC, he would fuss and be generally annoying resulting in us getting up much too early to start our day.
  • I have found many ways to make him giggle: the places he is ticklish, dancing and singing, little games. I realized we haven’t been playing nearly enough for our liking.
  • Sometimes he passes gas or is working to have a bowel movement. During these times he is fussy (complaining and nearly crying) for up to an hour. Knowing this I have much more compassion for my baby being in physical pain than when I thought he was just refusing to sleep or eat for no reason.
  • My little man understands much more than I give him credit for. He lets me wander off when he is on the edge of distressed (hungry / sleepy) and I can tell he trusts me to come back as quickly as I can. He will actually stop crying if I tell him I just need to go to something and will be right back.

I have found few things more rewarding in life than providing a safe haven for my son. These few days built a much deeper level of trust. Bodhi is crying less and smiling more and I have much less time listening to a suffering baby.

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