Developing relationships with babies can be confusing. There is no guarantee that our babies will be anything like we are, or our sister’s babies, or even our other children. You might be a highly social person who loves the excitement of travel and new experiences but you find your baby withdraws from relatives and cries or clings when brought into a new environment. Does that mean your traveling days are over and that you need to limit family visits? No! As with all relationships, the bond you have with your baby includes give and take, as well as ongoing compromise and acceptance. The most important thing you can do for your baby (and ultimately for yourself) is to understand your differences and be ready to help your baby fit into the lifestyle that works for you. When you understand and accept your baby’s traits, you can make appropriate modifications to your day-to-day activities that will keep you both happier.
You can help a shy baby by taking transitions a little slower, bringing familiar toys along with you when you go to new places, and being ready with calming repetitive words when the inevitable fussing starts. You can ask your relatives to give the baby a little time before they reach to hold him (this can be tough on grandma!).When you respond to your baby’s temperament with understanding and compassion, he learns that you will help him stay calm.
Here are some other ideas how you can take steps to help babies with different traits:
- An active baby will need lots of supervision and you’ll need to baby-proof your home when your baby is still very young
- A highly “regular” baby who thrives on routines will need to keep to a schedule as much as possible
- Intense babies who are not very adaptable will take longer than other babies to calm down so you’ll need to be patient while soothing your baby
- A baby who is not distractible won’t leave objects alone unless they are completely out of sight; it is best to look around carefully and put all of the worrisome things away
You can try to fight against your baby’s traits but you’ll find it to be a losing battle. Your baby isn’t trying to control you; your baby is just trying to get by with the tools he was born with.
If you find your baby is still a mystery to you, read over the descriptions of some of the traits from the last post. Imagine how the world looks from your baby’s perspective. Consider what changes in your activities and routines might make things easier for both of you. Again, you don’t have to transform your life completely, and some adjustments will be needed only until your baby is bit older. Many early baby traits will change, sometimes quite a bit. The little things you do each day to help your baby feel secure and safe will go a long way helping you build a loving bond. Even if your baby’s traits don’t change, the more secure your baby feels when he’s with you, the more readily he will learn to adapt to your world.
Next time: It Takes Two Baby: How Babies and Parents Learn about Each Other
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