It’s Okay for Baby to Have “Alone” Time
After an hour or so wandering through a big baby products show last month, I was in awe of the number of baby-wearing garments that had entered the marketplace. There were scores of slings, wraps, and carriers, in a wide array of colors and fabrics, held together by every imaginable fastener. I was very impressed by one that approximated the look of a classic “wrap dress.” But the one that really took the cake included a built-in “Boppy” pillow with a detachable nursing canopy so you could carry and nurse a set of twins while on the go.
Have we taken multi-tasking to an extreme? Do we really mean to “wear” vs. carry our babies? I feel there’s a new sociological conspiracy going on to find even more ways to suck moms into the corral of guilt-ridden inadequacy. True, there is nothing like that warm and snugly touch of your baby’s head on your chest, all wrapped up in a position that melds the contours of both your bodies. But truthfully, the number one reason why it’s okay for your baby to have physically and visually monitored “alone” time is YOUR BACK NEEDS A BREAK.
- Mommy Breaks. Rest is a supremely legitimate reason for letting your infant lie or sit safely while you do what you need to do. Unless you are taking Pilates and doing 100 reps of some exercise that strengthens your core, your spine is going to start fighting back sooner rather than later in life. You are already intensely bonded to your baby; that’s why you wear the wrap in the first place. Take it off proudly whenever you want to and give your body a rest.
- Babies should stretch, exercise, and have open-ended play. Yes, your little one does need you, but it gets hot and sticky and not so comfy in that sling all the time. Your baby needs to stretch and exercise those limbs. Play Gyms are excellent resources that allow your baby to explore the process of moving his or her own body parts without you–discovering what can happen when one is self-propelled. Beginning with hand-watching, kicking, and squealing, your baby has a lot to do that is worthy learning time for an infant.
- Babies need to be able to play alone. Give your child the opportunity to build self-confidence and independence by entertaining themselves. Learn the art of the verbal “check-in” by praising and narrating baby’s play. This will reassure baby that you can be present without being glued to their Cuddly Bodysuit. Temperament has a lot to do with the way babies express their needs, so you may need to help your baby redirect the immediacy of their demands by teaching independent play.
By any standard, the emotional bonds will not diminish. And remember, this “alone time” is your first investment in baby’s eventual success as a self-reliant adult.