What does a baby need in order to get a good start in life?

Introduction:

The early years of a child’s life are very crucial for its proper development into an adult.  There are many studies that support the view that the subsequent development of a child is determined by inherent infant personality as well as parental caretaking behaviour.  Children who are subject to traumatic past experiences including physical and emotional abuse are more vulnerable to developing abnormal psychological dispositions later on in life.  Parents and caretakers need keep in mind a few basic aspects of child rearing, which would go a long way in helping the child achieve timely developmental milestones.  This essay looks at these essential needs of a baby, by way of gathering supportive evidence from the Ria and Flynn text book and from other relevant scholarly sources.

The baby needs lots of love and care:

One cannot overstate the fact that babies should be treated with utmost care.  It is true that their scope of expression is very limited, but they are capable of feeling and showing basic human emotions of happiness, sadness.  It is the responsibility of the caretakers of the baby to keep the baby happy at all times by suitably responding to its calls of distress.  More importantly, the baby is capable of feeling whether it is truly loved or not.  Only wholehearted expressions of love and affection from its caretakers will satisfy the child and help it grow into a psychologically healthy adult.  The adage “spare the rod and spoil the child” is not backed by scientific evidence (Becker-Weidman, 2005).  If anything, the evidence is contradictory to this assessment.  Hence, caretakers should avoid corporal punishments to the child in the form of slapping, spanking, etc, as this could be detrimental to its healthy development.  For example,

“Punishing may make the undesirable behaviour look more attractive and thus add value to it.  Further, punishment may just teach a child how not to get caught. When parents or other adults inflict painful punishment, the children who receive them would learn that administering pain to others is also alright. When children mould their behaviour as ways to avoid pain, they are likely to end up as self-centred and selfish adults”. (Kohn, 2000)

The baby needs attentive caretakers:

Whoever the caretaker is – be it a parent, foster parent or a baby sitter, they should attend to every need of the baby.  When the baby shares a close bond with the caretaker then the likelihood of attachment disorders are negated.  When the baby’s needs are not being met consistently and if it develops a sense of loneliness as a result of it, then it is vulnerable to conditions such as Reactive Attachment Disorders, which arise from “the trauma experienced is the result of abuse or neglect, inflicted by a primary caregiver and disrupts the normal development of secure attachment” (Morrison, 1997).

A close bond between baby and mother is ideal:

Babies are very sensitive in nature, both physically and mentally.  They respond positively to the cuddles, caresses and kisses of its parents and caretakers.  But, it is only natural that any child will bond more strongly with its mother than any other caregiver.  In cases where the mother is not in a position to take care of the child, the foster parent can adopt a few psychological techniques to mitigate his/her inadequacies as a parent.  For example, seminal research in the area of child development has revealed that the attachment-trauma experienced by children is not confined to parental care alone.  In other words, the role of parents in the healthy development of children can be substituted by other care-givers if they implement sound child-care principles.  How well the child relates and accepts its new parents is a matter of therapeutic handling of the new bonding process.  The Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy is one such technique available to all care-givers.  To understand the workings of this approach one has to understand the psychological dynamics of the relationship between the parent (mother) and child (Webster, 1998).

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