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Our instincts urge us to respond rapidly to our baby's cries. We scoop her up and murmur comforting words. We offer food, fresh diapers and funny faces to dispel her distress. We rock, walk and jiggle until she's at peace. And then we collapse and cuddle and continue to savor the warmth of her body, the smell of her skin, the curve of her cheek. Or do we?
Society bombards us with messages that tell us not to trust ourselves, not to listen to our babies and our instincts. We’re warned that giving in to our baby's demands for attention spells certain disaster for our baby and ourselves. We're advised to get the baby off to the right start by letting him know who's boss from the beginning. But when those negative messages become louder than our baby's cries, we all lose.
Fears vs. Intuition
There's a widely accepted myth that even very young babies are out to manipulate their parents. Their cues for attention are interpreted as deliberate attempts to control us. The image of insolent, ungrateful schoolchildren yelling insults and orders at parents is enough to scare any mom or dad into prompt action.
These fears and the way messages are given can cause insecurity in a new parent. Do any of these messages sound familiar?
- "Show the baby who's boss."
- "You need to put that baby on a schedule."
- "If you let that baby sleep in your bed, you'll never get her out."
- "Don't pick that baby up. Babies need to cry."
- "Put that baby down. You'll spoil her."
- "That's not what the experts say."