And You Thought You Were Just Playing Peek-A-Boo

kolari-crop-thumb-60x66-1733[Originally posted at Just the Facts, Baby]

You know those delicious moments when you and your child are locked into each other’s gaze-laughing, smiling or just making faces? Those moments when the rest of the world disappears and you’re the parent of the most adorable child on the planet? Few things in life can touch those times, and they are much more than just feel-good moments. These interactions are critical to the parent/child bond and to your baby’s health and development.

All that cooing, copying of your baby’s facial expressions and mimicking her sounds lets her know that she is deeply treasured and understood. We reflect that understanding back by copying and imitating our babies in a wonderful back-and-forth dance throughout our day. Babies love and crave this interaction. All this mirroring calms and soothes them and helps them to feel safe with what is happening around them.

In fact, chemicals are being released in the brain that make your baby feel wonderful and elated, which has a profound impact on her brain. Science now shows that the more pleasant experiences she has, the more her brain specializes for resilience and happiness. Most of the brain’s circuitry is developed after birth, and it is through these intimate connections that neuropathways develop and babies learn to organize and regulate emotions. These are also the building blocks for the development of empathy and social skills.

To be honest, these games of face making, cuddling, and cooing are better than any toy or video you could ever buy for your child. This is what your child craves and needs from you. (You don’t have to be in your child’s face every minute of the day, though. That would overwhelm and annoy your baby-rest assured, she will look away or fuss when she’s had enough!)

While there is also nothing wrong with mobiles, smart toys, and videos, remember it’s your beautiful face your child needs most. And keep up the baby talk and silly faces with your toddler, she still needs it. These mommy love games are the best emotional nutrition you can give your child-building security, as well as emotional and intellectual intelligence.

And you thought you were just playing peek-a-boo!

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Please remember that the advice given on this blog is not meant to replace medical advice or the direct advice of a mental health care professional.
"Connected Parenting advises us not just how to parent, but—far more important—who to be as parents. The therapeutic methods suggested by Jennifer Kolari are based not on simple-minded behavioural solutions, but on building warm, nurturing relationships with our children, with insight and compassion not only for their little flaws, but also for our own larger ones."
—Gabor Maté, M.D.

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