“The things he sees are not just remembered; they form a part of his soul.”
Dr Maria Montessori
A child is a being who experiences the world with all of his senses and is acutely sensitive in the early weeks, months and years of his life.
His sensorial impressions of the world around him form part of who he becomes, so it is essential that our home environment is enriching from the start.
The first twelve weeks of a baby’s life is the Symbiotic Period, often called the Fourth Trimester, an extension of pregnancy when we endeavour to recreate the conditions in utero to facilitate a calm and safe space from which the infant can gradually adapt to his world outside of his mother. Symbiotic means mutually beneficial, or dependent upon one another.
In an Enriching Environment, we respect a gentle transition, offering a calm, and ordered space which allows him to discover his new world at his own pace. We call this a diminished environment: a simple, ordered and beautiful space that supports baby in maintaining the closeness, safety and calm that he experienced in the womb. This diminished, simple and ordered environment supports us as parents as well, allowing us to focus on our baby’s needs whilst we adapt to this beautiful, life-changing event.
For the first few magical weeks at home, we use low lighting, soft voices, skin to skin with the mother and father, and as few visitors as possible.
Skin to skin between father and baby is essential. Whenever baby is not being fed he can be worn in a wrap by the father to promote the closeness that both the baby and the father needs. The father can do all of the caregiving, changing, dressing, bathing with the baby. This bond formed between father and baby during the early hours, days and weeks is as important as the bond with the mother. The bonds formed at this time impact their emotional development and shape the adult they will become.
In utero, our babies have never known hunger, separation, changes in temperature, bright lights, strong smells or loud noises. Therefore, during the Symbiotic Period, support your baby by wearing him as much as possible, by talking and singing softly to him. From the warmth and security of a stretchy wrap, he becomes accustomed to the smells and sounds of your world. He experiences every new moment from the security of your body close to his. You are constantly seeking to recreate this feeling of comfort, soothing and calm that he had in utero.
If you are breastfeeding, then the closeness of babywearing supports your milk supply and if you are bottle feeding, babywearing provides the closeness and sense of safety that the infant needs.
A medical sheepskin helps to regulate his body temperature, and provide cushioning when he is on your lap or in your arms. The sheepskin becomes his point of reference, his safe space for play and for sleep, so that this sense of safety and comfort remains when he is transferred to his movement mat or bed.
From birth we give baby our time and our undivided attention. We give him time to study our faces, ‘putting a face’ to the voices he has heard in utero. We give him time to feed, to concentrate, to play, to unfold as he is meant to.
We can relax and soften into this experience, just enjoying our baby and our new family. We can accept all feelings of rawness, vulnerability and emotional overload. We can give ourselves completely to our new role of caregiver.
With your first child, you will be able to have “babymoon”: just you, your partner and your baby sharing this precious time together getting to know each other.
You do not need to make any plans for the early months of your baby’s life; all you need to do as parents is help your baby find her rhythm in her own time.
Know that you can enjoy this time and find fulfillment in parenting in tandem with riding the emotional and physical challenges it presents. Know in your heart that this is the most beautiful journey of self discovery you will ever go on, and that you are travelling this path hand-in-hand with your child.
Five steps to supporting your newborn:
- Support your baby’s gentle transition from life in utero to life in the outside world through skin to skin, holding and babywearing during the first few months.
- Give yourself completely to your new role as a parent, to caregiving. Soften into the often overwhelming feelings of vulnerability, love and strength that you are experiencing.
- Tune into the connection to Source that your child has, and dive into the spiritual qualities of these precious moments, the beginning of life.
- Just be with your baby, and enjoy your baby in the first few months of life. This is a unique bonding experience with your child that will never be repeated.
- Welcome this journey of self discovery as you become a parent. Your child will be your greatest teacher.