The most important thing your baby needs to be happy and healthy is physical contact: kisses, cuddles, hugs, stroking, swaying, rocking, playing, cooing, giggling, jiggling, if it feels good, it’ll make your baby happy!
Not convinced? Well, history delivers some interesting evidence. In the US in the 1900s, 80% of babies and kids living in institutions died. They were clean and fed, but they weren’t given one-to-one physical contact. So quick! Hug yours close right now!
A soft touch
Massaging your baby can be a wonderful way of soothing him and a fab excuse to kiss all those chubby little fingers and toes again. After his bath, lie him on a towel or cradle him on your lap and using either olive oil or lavender or camomile water (for babies under 6 months), gently stroke his arms and legs.
‘Harvey had terrible colic from about five weeks and I’d heard that baby massage was good for tummy pains, so I signed up for a local mums’ class,’ says Simone, 32, mum to Harvey, now 23 months. ‘I was nervous at first about hurting him,’ she adds. ‘But I was shown how to gently massage his tummy in a clockwise direction using the flat of my hands. At 5pm that afternoon, I braced myself for the usual hours of painful crying, but he didn’t. That night he slept like a baby!’
Go with the flow
‘Tune in to your baby,’ says Annette Maloney, our health visitor. ‘If you can surrender to your baby and just go with the flow rather than trying to fit him in with you, you won’t have prolonged periods of crying.
‘Don’t think, “It’s his sleep time now so he’s going to bed,”’ Annette adds. ‘Pick up his cues: if he looks tired, put him down to sleep by himself. You’ll find your baby gains confidence and is happier because he knows his needs are going to be met. Look for patterns. Ask, “How was my baby yesterday?” and be responsive and flexible. It helps you plan your day, too, so you can grab a shower or do some chores.’
5 things that won’t make him happy
- Jam-packing his day: A child needs time at home playing in his own environment.
- An endless stream of new toys: It’s far better for a mum to ‘read’ her child’s mind and judge his emotions than flaunt her status or income.
- Mum and Dad always putting on a happy face: Negative feelings are part of life, so acknowledge them when they are there.
- Giving in to sulking and tantrums: Your child will learn he gets his own way by being unhappy.
- Choosing his own bedtime: Happiness starts with adequate sleep.