[ If your baby is ‘beautiful and perfect, never cries or fusses, sleeps on schedule and burps on demand, an angel all the time,’ you’re the grandma.]
— Theresa Bloomingdale
The developmental task of all new babies is to trust that the world will support them, to know they are welcome in the family, and to learn that simply “being” in the world is important. With recent research on the brain, we know that bonding at this stage can set the foundation for the rest of the child’s life. When parents recognize what their child needs at this first stage of growth, they can give them the affirmations on which to build a solid foundation.
Of course, when we speak of “affirmations” for infants, we don’t particularly mean words, although even very young children can recognize their mothers voice at birth. Nevertheless, you may wonder how affirmations apply to an infant since a newborn hasn’t learned a language yet. But the messages parents and others give to newborns aren’t expressed only in words. Babies learn it is their right to be in the world and to have their needs taken care of when their caregivers bond with them emotionally and gently nurture them with touch and loving care. That is why a soothing tone of voice is as important for an infant as the verbal encouragement offered a toddler who is afraid to go down a slide.
Every time you gently hold a baby who has been fussing, you are teaching her that the world is a safe place to be. Every time you feed her when she has been crying, you are teaching her that she can get her needs met by letting others know what she wants. When you respond to her needs quickly and sensitively, she gradually learns how to comfort herself. When you talk with her as you change her diaper or put her in the car seat, you build on the language capacity her brain is programmed to develop.
Affirmations needed by all babies from birth to six months of age—and by everyone else as well:
We’re glad you’re here, because this is where you belong.
We love holding you and having you near us.
We will provide what you need because your needs are important to us.
You can take your time to grow up at your own pace.
We cherish you because you are a gift to the world.
We will dream great dreams for you.