When I gave birth, I was told to catch my baby ( she was born into water ) and hold her close to me, with our skin touching. This was drilled into me over the 9 months it took to cook her – ‘Skin to Skin’ is important. Your bond is important.
So why after this initial skin to skin bonding are we advised to constantly force our babies into independence ?
A common theme occurred once she was born, I was forever being warned about ‘making a rod for my own back’. When I spoke with other mothers they too had experienced this familiar warning. That tending to their babies every need would make them needy, clingy and forever dependent.
Every choice we made as parents we were told were making more work for ourselves, and that our baby would never learn to be independent that way.
When my partner and I admitted we co-slept, we were told it was dangerous, and that she’ll never ‘learn to sleep on her own’. But at a few weeks old, I didn’t expect her to sleep on her own, and I like that she finds comfort in having her parents sleeping right next to her. It brings us nothing but happiness when her small hand reaches out for either of us in the night, and I couldn’t imagine forcing her into her own lonely cot, in her own dark room. Her parents, protectors and main source of comfort out of sight. When she is ready she will go.
When we began breastfeeding we were repeatedly told to get her ‘on to bottles’ and given zero support from any Health Professionals when I struggled in those first crucial, scary weeks. I haven’t spent a night away from her, or had a break longer than a few hours. But I have done what is best for her. When she was ready we weaned her, and she now enjoys eating with us together.
When I instinctively held my baby close and refused to let her be passed around like a parcel to family members and friends alike, I was regarded as being mistrusting, and more often – just plain rude. But I didn’t want to hear my babies desperate cries as another unfamiliar smell and face jiggled her around expecting a laugh and a smile when all she craved was me, her mother.
Our bond is made with love, and without love babies cannot thrive. My baby that didn’t want to be taken out of my arms will now greet people at the door. My baby that has slept next to me for the last 7 months will now sleep in her cot all night, greeting me with a smile when I check on her in the morning. She may look to me for reassurance but that is because I have reassured her. They need guidance to learn and grow, and I won’t force her to let go of me until she is ready to do so.
Let’s love our babies, and teach them to love, so they will grow into happy secure children and adults. They will learn independence at another stage, and it must be a gradual process. Remember that important bond in the beginning and it will stay with them for life.