Ask many parents if they seek a connection or an attachment to their child and most would agree that they would. And attachment to our children begins literally in the womb, but once the cord is cut, the process of attachment takes on a different form. Humans are dependent on their caregivers in those first days; we have the longest childhood of any species.
Newborn babies are brand new to the world. Those first few months out of the womb (sometimes called the fourth trimester) are best spent snuggling- warm, close, and connected, taking care of baby and getting used to your new life together. In those first few months of life, you are her everything. However, mama starts yearning to re-emerge into the world just as baby starts communicating she is ready to reach out and explore. As she grows, she depends on you to help guide her and show her everything around her. Babywearing offers a safe space with which to begin to share the world with your baby. Mama’s body is still baby’s home base, but you are able to reach out together.
We love the four “P’s” cited in regards to newborn attachment:
How does a parent meet and respond to newborn’s needs? We would suggest yet another P: “Presence.” Presence is being aware of one’s surroundings and present in one’s environment. In order to respond to baby and meet her needs with love, rather than react, presence or mindfulness can be helpful and grounding. Here’s a small exercise we learned at the Attachment Parenting conference to ground us in the moment: “5-5-5.” Sit or stand right where you are and notice 5 things you see; then close your eyes and notices 5 things you hear and 5 things you feel. Did you think about the shopping list or your errands or did you concentrate on those 5-5-5 things? Being able to notice those 5 things without interruption is presence.
Over the last 10 years, we’ve talked to many parents and parenting experts alike, and we would like to share a few of our favorite tools for mindful parenting that can lead parents to a joyful connection with their child.
Babywearing. Of course we’re biased on this one, but Ergobaby was founded on the principles of attachment parenting as a path to a joyful connection to our child. Wearing your baby satisfies all four of the “P’s,” while leaving you hands free to take care of yourself (don’t forget to eat lunch, mama! You need to nurture yourself too!).
Trust your instinct. You’ve got this mama. Despite the wealth of parenting advice out there, your instinct should be your guide. Take a moment to ground yourself with a 5-5-5 and listen to your gut. As you start venturing out, exploring and sharing the world with baby, remember to follow your baby’s cues and trust your instinct.
Balance. Have you ever noticed when you are sitting on an airplane during the safety speech, they advise you: “Put your safety mask first before you assist your child.” Well, that applies in everyday life as well. In order to nurture your baby and practice mindful responsive parenting, parents need to be healthy and nurtured as well.
This too shall pass. Remember, babies grow quickly and their phases of development change just as rapidly. Being able to stay focused in the present moment, rather than worrying about “what if” is a wonderful thing to remember. Trust your instinct and trust that whatever challenge you are experiencing as a parent will soon pass.