Posts Tagged "traditions"

Talking to Babies – Part 2

Posted by on Mar 6, 2014

The best evidence there is that we should talk to babies, is that babies LOVE to be talked to. Tell a baby a story with an animated face and voice, and the baby will stare, in rapt attention – for as long as her little brain can handle it. Then she’ll turn her face away – to take a rest from the hard work of listening. A minute later, she’ll turn back toward you to see if you’ve got anymore to say. One mother told me how her baby hated having his diaper changed. So she decided to explain to him why she had to do it and what she was doing every step of the way. She found that the baby cried much less and seemed to listen to her explanation and accept it. Now I am not suggesting that the baby thought something like this: “Hmm. Mom makes a good case for this diaper-changing business. I guess I’ll go along with her to avoid getting diaper rash which I know can get darned unpleasant!” Of course not! But I do think the baby thought something like this: “Hmm! Mom is talking about something. I wonder what it is? She seems to feel pretty strongly about it. I wish I could understand what she was saying, but I’ve got a hunch that if I keep listening, someday I’ll figure it out.” And while baby is listening and trying to understand, Mom can quickly change that diaper. One night when my eldest son, Daniel, was seven or eight months old, he was teething and had swollen puffy gums. He was miserable – drooling and crying and rubbing his face on my shoulder. I tried to nurse him and soothe him and cuddle him and sing to him. I rubbed his gums with my finger and gave him a cold cloth to chew on. Nothing worked. Finally I got out the Tylenol and tried to give him a dose. He clenched his jaw shut and would not let me put the dropper in his mouth. He would have nothing to do with the sticky artificial-strawberry-flavoured medicine. I struggled with him briefly and then gave up. I took him out into the dark living room (leaving my husband to go back to sleep). I walked up and down and started to talk. I talked about his teeth buds growing in his gums and how extra blood was being sent there by his body to make nice strong teeth so that he could chew crunchy nuts and yummy steak. I talked about how the extra blood caused pain for him. About the Tylenol that would take away the pain. About the nice scientist in her white coat in the lab with the bunsen burner and the test tubes who invented the Tylenol so little boys could have medicine to make their gums feel better and so they could go to sleep and let their Mommies go to sleep too. I talked to...

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Talking to Babies – Part 1

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014

Written by: Eva Bild A new mother is trying to put a horrible prickly sweater on a baby before taking him outside in the cold weather. The baby is howling and the mother is distressed. I start to explain to the baby about how cold it is outside and how the lovely sweater his grandmother knit for him will keep him warm. The mother looks puzzled: “He won’t understand that, will he?” Well, no, he probably won’t but it’s still worthwhile to talk to him about it. When we talk to babies, we feel a little foolish. We laugh, embarrassed, when someone catches us at it. If we talk to our baby before other adults, we often do it archly, really meaning to communicate with the adults present: Dad: Come on, baby, let’s go and change your diaper and let Mom here get herself ready to feed you as soon as we get back. Mum: (when baby has been brought back to her for feeding) oh yes, baby, here you are nice and clean, isn’t Daddy a nice daddy to change your diaper for you? Our culture does not encourage us to believe that babies understand or feel anything. We are told that babies aren’t smiling “they just have gas”. We are told babies aren’t sad when they cry, they are just “exercising their lungs.” Until the 1970’s surgery was commonly performed on infants without anaesthesia, because it was believed they couldn’t feel pain. Mothers have said things to me like “I think she recognizes me, but she can’t, can she?” I remember one new father holding his newborn daughter who was staring with clear fascination at her father’s face. “When will she be able to see?” asked the father. Our culture teaches so strongly that babies are incompetent that we can’t even believe the evidence before us. I wonder if so many babies used to die in infancy that it just wasn’t worth it to get too attached to them, to see them as real humans. It was easier to stay a little aloof until we were sure they would survive. So, to protect our own feelings, we developed these beliefs about babies not really being present and aware. And yet babies start listening to us and learning from us very early on. There is good evidence that newborns can recognize their parents’ voices and music they have heard in utero. Our babies are born ready to tune in to our voices and to start learning language. They are hard-wired to watch our faces, especially our eyes and our mouths. They are born with a sense of how to take turns. Play the “I’ll stick my tongue out – now it’s your turn “ game with a two-week-old, and you’ll find a creature who has an innate sense of how to have a conversation. As soon as you stop sticking you tongue out, she’ll take her turn. If you wait too long to take your next turn, she’ll...

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Happy Holidays!

Posted by on Dec 20, 2013

Chanukah was earlier this month – we had latkes galore! Our friends south of the border gave thanks, ate turkey and watched football. And now we head into the end of December – the busiest time – end of term, papers due, concerts, and “getting ready.” Increasingly through the month I get asked “Are you ready for Christmas yet?” It makes me crazy. I feel as though everyone is checking in on my progress – or procrastination. When my children were small, I felt rushed all month. I wanted Christmas to be magical for them, and it meant a continuous frenzy all month. Until one year, when I was sitting in a coffee shop (we were waiting for our dentist appointment time) with the three of them – they were 10 and 8 and 6 – and I asked, what do you want us to do for Christmas? What traditions are important to you? I discovered the food and the baking were not important. But the tree and the presents were. I discovered they really DID like to go to see the Nutcracker and the carol concerts. But mostly what they liked was sitting in the living room with a fire and reading stories and watching movies. I found out that they really liked doing all the preparation WITH us. Hannah said she liked wrapping presents for people! (MY least favourite job.) Daniel liked making fires in the fireplace and setting up the tree. Simon liked making gravy. Most of my readers here are the parents (or the parents-to-be) of babies. And your kids will not be helping you to make gravy or wrap presents for a very long time. But you can remember that your babies are very sensitive to how you feel. If you feel tense and rushed, your baby will pick up on it. If you feel happy and contented, so will your baby. So as you get ready for this first Christmas with your baby take it easy! Do things that are fun and relaxing. Don’t let family pressure you to participate in too many big events. DON’T host Christmas dinner – it’s too much work. It might be easier to have one or two days crammed full of visiting than to have many days in a row where you have to go out. Plan for some time with just baby and your partner to create some traditions of your own, where you do some things together that you will all enjoy doing every year for may years to come. May this dark month that takes us to the turning of the year be a happy cozy one for you and your little ones....

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