Parenting 0 to 3 Months

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Child Development

Parenting Children from 0 to 3 Months

Baby 0-3 Months Old
Babies are cute.

On that nearly everyone can agree. There is something about little helpless creatures that causes us to abandon all sense of adult restraint as we coo and gurgle along with them. When we think of having a baby we often fantasize that our days will be filled with joy as we watch our infant grow. For the most part that is the truth. However, it is the other reality that often eludes us until we find ourselves having gone 4 nights without sleep, holding a screaming, collicky infant with diarrhea that we realize just how difficult it is to be a parent.

Birth to 3 months

Newborns are aware of their surroundings far more than doctors once realized. They have perfectly developed senses of hearing, sight, touch and smell. As for taste, the jury is still out. Infants have a distinct sense of taste but it is undetermined whether or not it is fully developed at birth.

Studies have been conducted that have linked the amount of time that an infant gazes into its mother's eyes to autism. Infants who divert their gaze early have been shown to have autism later in life. By age 3 months, newborns already recognize their mother's face and can begin to interact with her expressions. Likewise, the infant begins to internalize the mother's moods by using their senses and making a determination whether or not the world is a scary or comfortable place at the moment.

By 2 months of age your baby will startle to loud sounds and may recognize the dog's bark as a furry family member's voice. The infant will also begin to recognize smells that are familiar such as the smell of home or the car or even the scent of specific family members.

Parenting your newborn

Parenting a newborn requires more than just regular feedings and diaper changes. At this stage of development the child is already learning what is safe and what is not. A serene home environment will create a serene child and a serene child will likely grow up to be a calm and secure adult.

< New parents often ask the same questions. Here are some answers.

Can you spoil a baby by holding it too much?

No. Babies need to feel loved, secure and attended to. The more you nurture your child the happier it will be. An infant's brain hasn't developed enough to be able to manipulate the parent or to think abstractly. The newborn only knows when it feels good and when it doesn't, whether it feels safe or whether it does not.

Should I let the baby cry themselves to sleep?

When your baby cries always attend to it's needs. Never let your child cry itself to sleep or to lay unattended while crying. Doing so causes serious mental and emotional problems for the infant that will last throughout their life. Babies need to learn that the world is a safe place and that there is always someone there to protect it and nurture it. Being left alone is terrible frightening and teaches the baby hopelessness.

Will my postpartum depression affect my child?

Babies are so sensitive to their environment that they easily pick up on the mood of those closest to them. This is natures way of trying to protect the child. Later in life they will be able to act on those perceived cues and protect themselves from threat, but as an infant they are helpless to interpret the signals or to defend themselves against any threat. They only know that something isn't right and that they are fearful.

When an infant feels the mother's depression they may mimic the mood and become cranky, sullen or afraid. This increases their need for nurturing and reassurance which the depressed mother may not be able to provide, making the child's sense of confusion and fear worse, which causes them to react more intensely. It becomes a vicious cycle. If you are experiencing postpartum depression it is important to confide in a trusted friend or family member who can help you arrange additional help with the baby. If you don't get help the infant will suffer. Both of you are in a vulnerable place and both of you will benefit from help from a loved one.

The newborn learns several life lessons that will become a part of their belief system as they grow into adulthood. They learn whether or not people in charge of their care can be trusted to nurture them or if they are going to hurt or neglect them. They learn if the role of caretaker includes happy communication, playfulness, patience and teaching moments. They learn whether or not they should rely on others to help them when they cannot help themselves. Do you know someone who meanders through life having learned the wrong lessons?

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