I hope you all had a wonderful day last Thursday. I hope you were with friends and family, eating a tasty meal, and finding many things to be thankful for. If you read my Thanksgiving blog post, you probably know that family and friends are high on my “thankful for” list. God is at the top of that list with my family close behind.
For the past few weeks, I’ve shared how important it is for mothers and fathers to make parenting a top priority in their lives; those who desire to be a hero to their children: http://desiretoinspire.life/attitudeparental-job-description/ http://desiretoinspire.life/parental-heart-divided-priority/
Did you know though, that a mom or dad can truly believe they make parenting a top priority in their lives but can still not provide what’s best? How can a parent “miss the mark” when they make it a top priority? Well, it depends on the perspective of who is answering this question.
Today, I’m going to address this question from the perspective of parents with infants who want to be great parents. In next weeks blog post I’ll cover this topic from the perspective of parents with elementary school aged children.
For the above mentioned mothers and fathers, we know their perspective; they believe they are doing what is necessary to make their children their top priority:
- The parents decide to bottle feed so both the mother and father can bond with their baby.
- They buy only the most expensive diapers on the market. Those provide the greatest comfort for their baby when they can’t change her right away.
- It isn’t realistic to be expected to hold their baby every time he fusses. These parents provide a pacifier so their infant won’t wear himself out crying.
- They provide their child with plenty of brain stimulation by letting her watch educational shows such as Baby Einstein and Sesame Street.
- The parents sing and talk often to their baby.
So from accomplishing even most of the things on this list, can a parent feel assured that he or she is making their children a top priority? What if you asked their child? What would he or she say?
Infants, of course, won’t be able to voice their opinion on this topic…or can they? Babies are experts at expressing their needs. Every time they cry and every time they coo and smile, they are letting you know how they feel.
Every baby is an individual. As they grow, each will develop their unique personalities based on genetic and environmental factors. The genetic factors are out of a parent’s control. Parents though can have a very big impact on many of the environmental factors which play a pivotal role in their infants development.
While everything on the above list is good, the biggest positive impact a parent can have on their child’s early development is through the act of physical contact and by providing plenty of it. There have been countless studies on the effect of human touch with infants.
Dr. Allen Green, is a prominent pediatrician, who has authored two books on the care of infants and has appeared on various nationally syndicated programs such as: the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, and the Dr. Oz Show. In an article he wrote titled: Touch is as Important to Infant Health as Eating and Sleeping, he says, “Still question whether touch is as important as eating and sleeping? Consider one more landmark study.
In the 1960s, Dr. Harry Harlow separated infant monkeys from their mothers at six to twelve hours after birth and substituted “surrogate” mothers made either of heavy wire mesh or of wood covered with cloth. Both mothers were the same size, but the wire mother had no soft surfaces and was equipped with a bottle from which the baby could “nurse” while the other mother was cuddly, covered with foam rubber and soft terry cloth, but had no food. Despite the fact that only one surrogate mother could feed them, the infants still spent more time cuddling with the cloth mother. (They also found that the monkeys“raised” by wire mesh moms were very aggressive as adults.) These results led researchers to believe closeness and affection are as imperative to healthy development as food.
In today’s busy world, it’s all-too-common for parents to give a child a pacifier or put them in front of a video screen to keep them calm and quiet. But, those convenient moments of calm may be having subtle impacts on your child’s development. Take time to slow down. Take time to touch. Take time to cuddle. They aren’t babies for long and your investment of time and touch is a priceless investment in their health and well-being.”
You can read his entire article at: http://www.drgreene.com/touch-is-as-important-to-infant-health-as-eating-and-sleeping/
While there are many positive things you can do for your infant, don’t underestimate the act which will provide the biggest impact on the development of your child or grandchild…physical touch and better yet skin to skin contact. Your children may not be able to say, “Thank you,” yet, but because of the loving contact you give them now and throughout their lives, they will have plenty of time to say “Thank you” for the rest of your life.
There’s nothing so rewarding and peaceful than rocking a baby to sleep.