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Importance of slowing down when interacting with babies and young children

Importance of slowing down when interacting with babies and young children

There is no greater miracle than life itself. We have been blessed with the gift of being parents. How do we express to our baby or young child that we are grateful for their presence in our lives? One of the simplest ways to show how much we love them, it to slow down during all of the care related activities. This means that during every diaper change, every feeding, every time we dress her, bathe her, or put her to sleep, we are moving at a slower pace and synching ourselves to her rhythm.

A baby needs time to adjust his body to what we are asking of him. As we give him anticipation to what is about to happen, he can relax his tonus and actually become a participant during his care instead of a passive recipient. We never want him to feel like he is an object. We may say things like, “I am going to dress you now”, and wait a little bit. As we proceed to put on his cozy sweater we may say, “ I am going to put this sleeve on your arm”, and depending on this young child’s developmental stage we may even wait for her to give us her arm. We continue by asking for her other arm, and waiting for her physical response. This process requires patience and never a sense of hurriedness. It is our job to offer our babies and young children a peaceful beginning, and it all starts with the adult slowing down and following each child’s individual cues of readiness.

By following this process, we are showing responsiveness and presence; through our articulated movements and gentle tone of voice, we are offering our babies an invitation to participate and be the co-creators of their care. Slowing down may take a few more minutes than hurried care, yet the outcome is a trusting baby that is willing to give us her disposition and attention, and thus discovering pleasure in the relationship. This is an investment of time with infinite positive results.

Elsa Chahin

RIE Associate and President of Pikler/Loczy Fund USA.