7th-12th June 2020
Here at Slinglibrary.com we are proud to play a part in supporting both infant and parent mental health and wellbeing. We take our role seriously and know we are a vital part of new parents and or parents of new baby’s journey. That’s why we have voluntarily joined ACE&SL (Association of Carrying & Sling Educators). This helps you the reader and slinglibrary.com user, know we are passionate about raising standards in ourselves and the babywearing industry.
Slings help in many ways helping, sooth reflux, reduce separation anxiety, facilitate sleep in babies – they need approximately 16 hours sleep a day. Allowing parents to eat meals, read to other children or go for walks off the pram suitable path.
These last few months have seen children up and down the country be isolated for their safety from a serious illness that has potential to kill. It has seen parents anxious to attend hospital for falls, and normal childhood illnesses. Pregnant women having to attend scans alone, and having fears over giving birth without their partners. Fear of the unknown has seemed to be worse than the experience, in general – but whilst you’re weighing up that decision, I’ve needed 3 hospital visits and 6 GP appointments in 3 months, it is concerning working out how you can attend at minimum risk to yourself and your family!
We’ve had mental health week 18-24th May with a theme of Kindness. And now this week we are supporting Infant Mental Health Week 7-12 June. This year’s theme is 2020 Vision: Seeing the world through babies’ eyes.
I wanted to address this, because it is a big part of what we give in our slinglibrary.com Why we advocate for the fourth trimester and why we love snuggling those babies close (as I am sure you do too).
What does baby see? Ever wondered? This a great tool to help you understand why baby needs to be close to you and watch your face.
The fourth trimester is the time after birth until the baby is around 3 months old – and it is so called because humans need time to adjust to the world, parents need time to adjust to parenting this little bundle(s). Too often we feel pressure from society or ourselves to return to normal life, get back in the skinny jeans or out on the tiles quickly after birth. We often remind women that it takes time to grow a baby, and it takes time to get used to the new version of your body – slow down. Babies too don’t understand where their constant food and warmth has gone, where that soothing sound of mum’s heartbeat is or the gentle woosh of her blood pulsing through her veins. The world is stark, bright, loud, textured, why do I have to wear clothes and nappies – I want to hold you, please keep me safe. This is why I have loved the pandemic – I have had a 3 month babymoon with my family and been able to respond to the cues and needs of the twin boys – not be on the school run or running errands.
So, what is Infant Mental Health – and why does it matter!
Infant mental health: the social and emotional wellbeing and development of children in the earliest years of life. It reflects whether children have the secure, responsive, relationships they need to thrive.
Whilst babies do not tell us what’s going on for them in words, when we are responsive to their actions, facial expressions or cry’s (remember crying is often a later stage in communication) we can help them to develop holistically in physical and mental health. A responsive care giver responds to the needs of the child promptly, it is child initiated and is said to involve 3 processes from the caregiver – 1) Observation – watching for cues or listening for verbalisations. 2) Interpretation – working out what is needed. 3) Action – aiding the infant in a timely manner.
So how do slings tie into Infant Mental Health – a parent who is carrying their infant can pick up on their cues very quickly, and they are able to use all 6 senses – yes 6!
Sight – in a front carry, hip carry or high secure back carry a care giver can see the baby’s facial expressions.
Hearing – a baby in close proximity to a parent can be heard, even when walking near a busy road or in a play gym (remember those places).
Smell – the tops of baby’s heads give off a smell, I have smelled my babies need to move their bowels minutes before their nappy is dirty. In my older children I have smelled illness before it’s become apparent. And of course, the smell of vomit of poo. More on baby smell and the olfactory system here I love baby smells, and don’t think there is enough science on this!
Touch – this plays a big part in baby wearing. Every small muscle the baby moves is registered by the wearers body – some are far more obvious than others. But worn regularly and caregivers can really pick up on each child’s needs through their movements. This is especially useful in the deaf/blind caregiver – our consultant can help you with finding the way to carry your infant that meets your abilities, and we have a volunteer BSL and Makaton sign interpreter available to us if needed.
Taste – Ok this is difficult to tie in here, but we could bend it slightly that both breast and bottle feeding are possible in slings – and can allow for upright feeding positions, paced bottle nursing and keeping upright after feeds can help reduce reflux.
The final sense is Intuition – our subconscious picking up on all the information given to us, gut instinct, God, or Wisdom – what ever you believe, we all have a knowing and often in our parenting we tap into this wisdom – we just know what is wrong without knowing why.
How do slings help us see the world through babies’ eyes?
Because when babies are close to us and we are responsive we can see what they see, we are communicating with them, talking to them, we are telling them about our day, we are showing them what we can see – a baby in a sling can choose to look out at the world or snuggle in and rest in their safe space – with their responsive care giver. We are reminded constantly of their presence and their needs. Babies are watching your facial muscles, picking up on your nonverbal cues, developing their people reading skills, communication skills, language development – how to use their mouths. They’re hearing your heartbeat, the sound of your voice through your chest wall, they explore the world at their pace from your arms.
What changes when you look at what a baby can see?
We take time to slow down, to notice the finer details and the parts of life we have been too busy to notice. A butterfly, a bird, the rainbow, or a drop of dew on a leaf. To point out nature all around us and reconnect with our Earth and its fellow inhabitants. I still remember the first time I shouted out “Tractor” as I drove to work alone – and I still do it now.