There is a very normal and logical response to the idea of trusting your baby and letting them decide for themselves:
“But how can he or she know what’s best for them, they’re only a baby!”
Indeed, a baby cannot talk, nor does it have the cognitive capacity to know what is good or bad for him or her. But a baby can respond negatively or positively to its environment.
Under typical circumstances, it does have the capacity to sense what feels good and what not and will respond to that stimulus be it physical, emotional or vibrational.
A baby will tell you when it is hungry with a cry, she will tell you she loves you with a smile or that he is feeling uncomfortable in someone’s arms with a wriggle.
Often these cues are obvious, and an observant mother and father will be able to understand what baby wants to communicate and are therefore able to meet baby’s needs accurately.
Baby, however, functions on a much subtler level energetically and is able to pick up and respond to circumstances that we as adults often oversee or are unaware of.
In order to meet another where they are at, whatever their age, requires that we are looking for their cues in the first place and that we are able to interpret them correctly based on who they are.
A mindset that says “it’s only a baby” is unlikely to be seeing this little person for who he or she is. This is why tuning into and trusting your baby is so important.
Most adults develop behavioural traits that are habitual and unconscious even when they mean to protect and to love as best as one can.
With every good intention in mind, often love is not out of compassion and understanding for another but driven by one’s fears, needs and desires.
Even if we do mean to protect we often impose ourselves on others, particularly when they are smaller or perceived as less capable than us.
Compensating for another’s lack, however, does not necessarily help them become independent, strong and confident human beings.
Go back to the moment when you are feeding a baby, but they don’t really want their food and they are pulling away. Do you listen, or do you try to push the spoon in their mouth anyway?
Or when they are half-asleep with no need to be picked up, but we pick them up anyway because of our emotional need to be loved and nurtured ourselves.
Innocent enough moments but the violation of another’s space is not necessarily about aggression or negative intent. It’s a lack of consciousness that will repeatedly and subtly violate another’s personal space, even if baby is a day old and you are the one having given birth to them. Tuning in and trusting your baby in the understanding that they know what they want can help to build a strong bond with your baby.
An attitude of respect and a will to listen knows no age or gender. Neither is it limited to humans, animals too ask of us the same level of respect and awareness of their needs.
We have evolved in our research and understanding enough of early childhood development in the womb and thereafter, to know that we can no longer perceive babies as objects to be handled at will.
An effective parent is not necessarily one that dotes over their newborn and obsesses over their wellbeing or is at the other end of the spectrum, where they are too aloof and distant. Rather a parent who is attentive, observant and able to keep her own fears, projections in check, is more likely to meet their child where they are at.
Yes, babies send clear signals if we allow them the space to do so!
They transmit through their eyes, their sounds, their facial expressions and their body language.
Are you trusting your baby and letting them decide?
- Do you know what your child’s likes and dislikes are?
- Do you know their feeding, sleeping and toilet patterns?
- Can you feel their tempo and their rhythm?
- What makes them feels good and what will throw them off centre?
- What changes in their environment will affect them the most?
- Do you yourself know how you like to be held?
- Do you know how you like to be touched and cared for?
- Are your own emotional needs met or are you projecting them onto your child?
The healthier and more conscious our relationship to our self, the more likely we are to honour and respect another’s relationship to themselves.
At home, it is easier to get carried away by the speed of daily living and to oversee a baby’s cues that are much slower in pace and more subtle than a ringing telephone.
In coming to the water, we are immediately immersed in an environment that is naturally devoid of external stimuli and demands that we pay full attention to baby and its well-being.
At Aqua Sensory we pay careful attention to how both parent and baby are feeling. We gently guide you to take things slowly so that everyone feels safe and can observe what it is we are feeling. This can help you with trusting your baby so that you can start to recognise the cues – and trust yourself to recognise them!
It is the nature of water to show up things more clearly or even things that we were unaware of. With needing nowhere to go but be present in class it is easier to see what our baby’s likes and dislikes are. He or she will guide us to where they want to go next in the pool, they are very clear in where their comfort limits lie, and water will show up their own tempo with which they like to learn and do things.
Aqua Sensory has been specifically designed as a child led programme that supports parents become active listeners and effective caregivers.
We would love to hear from you. How do you listen to your baby?