I have been involved with parents and babies for over three decades and in that time I have seen many different techniques and theories used to care for a new born. In that time I myself have changed from a background of rigid routines, Cry It Out (CIO) for babies to nurturing with flexible routines, giving babies the right and ability to find their own sleep rhythm and intervening at an appropriate time to help them fall asleep. The appropriate time depends on you and your baby, with a newborn it can be anywhere from 0 to 5 minutes and ideally in your arms.
I am often asked what my theories and reasons are for doing something and the best way I to explain this is I take the best from both extremes of parenting and find a middle ground that works for Mum, baby and family. If we could do this more often we would find that our parenting journey would be more balanced.
I pull from my knowledge and background experience of over 22 years of in-home care supporting mothers in their journeys as parents and have seen many ideas and theories tested and have been adjusted to suit each individual mother and baby.
When working with mothers and babies, I take into account the scientific and medical theories, but I do believe that it needs to work within a family environment and adjusted accordingly. Babies are not robots and each baby should be looked at as an individual and their needs fulfilled completely.
As a woman carrying a baby you are provided with so much information and many guidelines on how to care and nurture your baby while in the womb, however once you give birth to your baby the common idea is to put the baby in a cot, buggy, hammock and let them settle themselves, this is the complete opposite to the warm nurturing environment they are used to.
What is nurturing outside of the womb and why is it so important? Nurturing creates an environment in which your baby feels safe and secure, it also helps your baby’s transition from the womb to the world, it offers the most important thing…… unconditional love.
Unconditional love for example is when your baby cries you respond to their needs and this in turn sets the tone for daily life and is the key to easing your baby into healthy sleeping and feeding rhythms.
Your baby loves to have cuddles or be engulfed in your arms, feeling the rhythm of your breathing, heartbeat or a soothing tone of voice (shushing) is relaxing and calming for them.
Every baby is different and some require more nurturing than others. And at times nurturing calls for going that extra mile to comfort your baby in times of distress. . . . .
It can be very distressing for your baby to be left to cry alone, causing your baby to get overtired and can in turn affect feeding. An overtired baby isn’t going to feed well and a hungry baby won’t sleep well.
Parent’s worry that tending to their baby’s every need will spoil them and produce a manipulative baby. On the contrary, it is crucial that your baby knows you are there to care and nurture them. At this tender age they are too young to be manipulative and it is impossible to shower your newborn with too much love.
For parents with more than one child it is difficult at times to find the time to devote to your newborn baby, it may feel like a juggling act but you will work out a routine that works for baby and family.
It is not a negative sleep clue to hold a baby or feed a baby before a nap or bedtime – in fact I would say that this is good mothering/nurturing. My rule of thumb is not to do anything in arms that you cannot repeat in a cot. Try and avoid feeding to sleep and to do this I suggest that you feed, then swaddle and then place your baby in their cot. If they cry you then respond by picking them up and settling in arms or by responding and settling in the cot.