Do you understand your baby’s needs? A baby’s needs are simple, but some of them are less obvious than others. In general, babies have three sets of needs: physical, emotional and developmental. Make sure you’re meeting all of them by checking out this list.
Baby’s Physical needs
Physical needs are the ones everything would think of when you say “needs” and are usually the most obvious. Most people will do a good job of meeting these. They include:
Hygiene. Changing, bathing and being clean, in a clean environment and clothes.
Nutrition and hydration: breastfeeding or formula, and an adequate amount.
Shelter: Being clothed appropriately to protect them from the weather, not too cold or too hot. Able to keep dry and comfortable.
Safety: Predictability will help a baby to feel safe. When something is sudden, loud and frightening, or painful, a baby will get distressed. Sometimes these situations are unavoidable, but your baby needs comfort and protection.
Do babies have emotional needs? of course! They may not have memory of their early years or many cognitive skills, but to give their brain a strong foundation to build on they need to have their emotional needs met. Those would be:
Connection with their parents: Your baby wants you to look at them and see your smiles. The baby wants to know that they make you happy. Your baby wants to bring joy to your life and feel loved by the people who brought him or her into the world.
Comfort: If your baby gets frightened, is sick or gets hurt, they need you to comfort them right away. There is nothing to be gained here by leaving them to cry and expecting them to be “grown-up” fresh out of the womb. In order to get their independence, they need to be safe and feel loved by you, if they feel abandoned, or like you don’t really care, they’ll always be too busy trying to get run back to you to go out and explore the world and be less dependent.
Happy moments and a slow pace: Take the time to cuddle, to smile, to enjoy your baby. Share happy moments and express your love. Let them look at things that take their interest. Take time to play with them.
Here is where many people struggle. Babies need your attention to develop normally. They need you to talk, play and they need sensory experiences. Your baby’s brain still needs to learn to process sensory information when they are born, and they continue this development through their toddler years. Your baby is born without color vision or depth perception. They may often get overstimulated and cry. The world is overwhelming for a baby and they need to learn how to process sensory information.
Tummy time from birth. Tummy time helps babies develop the muscles they need to get moving. Changing their position also helps to prevent plagiocephaly.
New experiences. Let your baby have new experiences and visit new places. Take them to the park and let them feel the grass and sunshine, listen to the sounds of other children playing. Take them to the beach so they can feel the sand and hear the waves. Let them feel different textures and play with their food. Let them feel different fabrics and materials. touch and feel books are good too.
Hearing your voice, eye contact and socializing. When babies listen to you talk, they are learning about language. They will listen to sound patterns and intonation. At around 6 months of age, they will start babbling to practice making word sounds, and some babies may even start sooner. Talk and read to your baby, you can look at books and point to the pictures. Eye contact will let them know you’re engaged with them, and they will look at your expression to understand what you’re feeling.
Your support. Whenever possible, let your baby or toddler attempt things by themselves. Don’t rush in to do things for them. If you notice them trying to roll over, touch their feet, or bring their hands to their mouth, if they’re not distressed, let them focus on the task and do it themselves. For toddlers, give the minimum amount of support necessary when they want to try something. When they want to climb stairs, you can stand behind to catch them or hold their hand. Don’t immediately lift them up, but let them attempt tasks for themselves.
I hope this article has helped you to understand your baby’s needs. Remember, you can’t spoil newborns, and they only cry to let you know they need something. Check out these things your newborn wishes they could tell you.
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