Interacting with Newborns

Babies can be magical.  They can be SO cute.  So lovable.  And so…boring?  Yes, that’s right.  Babies are not always an entertainment powerhouse! Babies can be really boring!  They are basically still gestating for the first few months of life, their brains wired for survival.

They have very high sleep needs for rapid brain growth and development. They have very small tummies so they eat frequently. Their early communication is based on a series of reflexes, cues and crying. Add all of these up and you get a snoozing, pooping, wailing, sucking human…on repeat. 

Most parents are a bit baffled by this newborn phase and can’t wait to jump straight to the fun stage where we feel like we can “play” with our babies.  Since we can’t speed up their development, how can we engage with them in those earliest months of life?

Here is a little secret that we sometimes don’t realize until after we have survived those first difficult months dubbed the 4th trimester.  The caregiving is more than “just” caregiving. The constant repetition of diapering, feeding, burping, soothing, bathing, and comforting build the foundation of your relationship with your baby. These many opportunities to interact with your baby make them a part of the process of building trust and a secure attachment- which are both necessary to raise healthy humans.

Here are a few ideas for interacting with your young baby:

  1. Talk to them about their world.  Narrating some of the things you are doing and what they are seeing is an amazing way to stay connected and also begin to build their language.
  2. Involve them in the process.  Using your newfound narration skills, talk about what you are doing with them. Give them a play by play of the diaper change.  Explain what is happening at bath time. Give them a little warning before you pick them up and move them.  Respect their bodies the way we would any other person.
  3. Catch them during the quiet alert state.  This is when they are very receptive to listening and learning.  You will notice a relaxed body with big open eyes, focusing intensely.  This state may only last a few minutes, but seize the moment if your baby is in it.

Finding the magic in the mundane creates many special opportunities to just be with your baby.  Reframing newborn care tasks as actual trust building exercises, may make you feel like a superhero every time you change a wet diaper or recognize a hunger cue.

But it is also okay that it can feel monotonous to do the same repetitive tasks day after day. It doesn’t make you a bad parent to yearn for the more interactive stages to come, that makes you human.  Sometimes babies are a little bit boring, and that is the reality. No parent guilt necessary!