Today, a new father told me this story about his newborn infant. The story offers lessons about infants just two and a half months old. This first time young father said:
I and my wife were invited out to see old friends. I hadn’t seen my friends in a long time, so we took my son out to the friend’s house for this get together. My son, he’s two months old, was fine for the first few hours, but at eight o’clock he started crying. My wife and I tried everything to make him stop crying, but he cried and his face turned red. Finally, my wife said maybe we just should take him home. All the way home he cried. As soon as we got home he settled down, and stopped crying. My wife washed him up and got him ready for his crib and once in the crib, I looked down at him and he laughed. I said to him, “You know what you did, don’t you?” He laughed again. My baby laughed. I felt he knew what he was doing.
Years ago, people believed that even newborn infants would do things to manipulate or wrap parents around their little fingers. They would say, “Don’t go to that baby each time he cries, you’ll spoil him.” We now know that in the first six months, children need to have adults answer their cries and attend to their needs. They need to know that they are safe, cared for, and loved. In this case, his son may have laughed, but it wasn’t because he planned to cry to get his way. He did not plan to have he and his wife leave the party. He probably did know that something was different and wrong. I explained that his wife and he had done such a good job making his son comfortable and cared for, and setting a bedtime routine that the infant felt something changed the night of the party. He was accustomed to having his mother bathe him, put on his bedtime clothes, comfort him with his bottle. All that changed, because he was in a strange place. His comfortable routine was upset.
That night, once in his crib, he probably laughed, because was happy to be in his bed with his Daddy smiling down at him. Even infants between two to three months old can react negatively by crying and fussing when their routines are not followed. But when they learn that you answer their needs, change their diapers, burp them, come when they cry, and make them feel comfortable they know that they are loved. And when routines are followed and you have a happy infant ready for bed time at eight o’clock, that is a wonderful thing. You have done a good job.
Make Reading Part of Your Bedtime Routine
As you settle your baby down after bath or dressing for bed, it is a good time to read a restful bedtime book. Making a book part of your bedtime routine helps connect you to your baby. It also helps develop his ability with language, and how it works. I wrote a piece on reading to premature infants and newborns a while back and I listed the many benefits of reading to them. and here they are.
Why read aloud to an infant?
There are many benefits to an infant’s development that comes from being read to aloud.
- Reading aloud to infants helps develop vocabulary they will use later in conversations.
- Reading aloud to babies improves their later reading ability.
- Reading aloud to infants gives them information about the world.
- Reading aloud helps develop a love of learning.
- Reading aloud to infants helps them bond with the mother and instills a love of books.
So what kind of books are good for newborn infants?
Infants enjoy books with rhythmic text. Rhyming books that are soothing and restful are very good at this time. The book Time for Bed and Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes both by Mem Fox have stories told in rhyme, and are good choices because they have the repetition that very young children enjoy. The book I recommended in an earlier blog post for toddlers at bedtime, Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown is perfect for newborn infants, as is Lullaby Moon by Rosie Reeve. Both are wonderfully lyrical books that are perfect for newborns. Books of nursery rhymes, and lullaby books are also good because they expose infants to the music of our language.
Enjoy your new-born. Each day you notice him or her learn something new. What’s wonderful about being a parent is you get to experience all of their discoveries with them. So to all the young fathers out there, welcome to fatherhood. Enjoy your little ones, their little fusses and their laughter. It is all a part of babies growing and learning.
Photo from Freepik.com
By Dr. Delores Lowe Friedman