The best thing I read while I was pregnant was shared on facebook. The actual post I can no longer find but it was written by a mum and was along the following lines. The baby has gone from the womb, which is warm and dark, and funnily enough, reasonably noisy (with the mothers breathing and heart beat, and digestive noises). The baby has food/energy on tap so to speak via the umbilical cord. When they are born into this world, everything is a new experience. Cold air on their skin, clothes on their body, light shining into their eyes, loud sudden noises, the feeling of hunger, and having to work really hard at sucking to get their nourishment – all of these things that we take for granted, are new experiences for the baby. And it can be very overwhelming for them. No wonder the little bubs cry so much!
At the same time, new parents are told babies need to be on a routine of eat, play, sleep. Newborns are on a cycle of 90minutes of waking time, and of that, they may spend half that time feeding. So taking out nappy changes, we are told to “play” with them for 20-30 minutes.
The FB post mentioned a theory that is contrary to that routine. We need to treat the first 3 months of a baby’s life is like a “4th trimester”. Developmentally they actually should still be in the womb, but evolution has ensured that they are not, otherwise they wouldn’t fit through the birth canal! So, human babies are born very helpless – much more helpless than other animals. So we should treat them as if they are still in the womb.
Therefore the “play” is just looking into their eyes.
Play is playing soft music for them to listen to.
Play is letting them feel different textures of material across their face, or tummy (ie silk scarves, feathers).
Play is singing to them while they are cradled in your arms.
Play is nappy-off-time on the rug (with lots of towels to catch the inevitable wee) and letting them kick unfettered.
Play is letting them look at geometric shapes, or light and dark (ie curtains closed on a bright day and them looking at the light coming through the sides.
Any bright colours or other stimulation of games and lots of noise is too much for their brains to handle. I see newborns laying under mobiles or activity center mats, and quite frankly – it is too much for them. They become unsettled and grumpy, and then overstimulated and wont sleep.
So, keep it simple in their first 3 months, (you have enough to get used to with having a newborn in your life anyway). You will hopefully be rewarded by a “reasonably”*** calm and settled baby. At 4 months you will notice them awaken from their slumber, and that is when all the fun interactions can begin.
*** please note, no baby is calm and quiet all of the time. You will have episodes of crying and screaming that you cannot figure out. However endless crying for no apparent reason is not normal and should be investigated by your health practitioner
What is the best piece of advice you received when you were pregnant?