Monday, November 14, 2011

Tummy Time (Part 3): Who’s the Boss?

Did your mommy make you eat your brussel sprouts? What do brussel sprouts and tummy time have to do with each other?

Parenting is a never ending series of accomplishments for you and your child. Some come easily and some are more challenging. From the start, baby should know that you’re the boss! That doesn’t mean you’re not a kind, loving, warm, engaging, amazing, super special boss, but you’re the one who sets the ground rules. If you start early with this premise, it helps later on. My twins aren’t even close to being pre-tweens yet, but based on what I’ve heard (and my memories of being a teenager myself), it sounds like establishing who’s the boss early is a good idea!

Tummy time is just one example of an element of parenting that babies may “object” to (in baby language, this means they cry!). Feeding them certain foods, sleep training and potty training are other examples of times where babies/toddlers may need you to take control.

Babies cry, and toddlers tantrum—all in an effort to communicate frustration, discomfort, objection or merely to seek attention. If we as parents establish that “mom knows best” from the start and condition our responses to these behaviors, the effectiveness of the crying & tantrums diminishes. It’s not all so clear cut—meaning babies may cry because they are hungry or sick (and that’s something to respond to!), but when it comes to crying, for example, when baby is placed on the tummy (with supervision for appropriate tummy time)—or crying when (an appropriately aged) baby begins sleep training—our response to the crying is critical. If we respond to each and every cry, we’re basically saying that everything in life is going to be easy! Tummy time (and sleep training and weaning the pacifier, etc..) are not always going to be met with coos and giggles. Ease into these behaviors gradually, and pat yourself on the back when you’ve conditioned your baby to get used to something good for them that may initially be undesirable. So eating brussel sprouts and tummy time really do have something in common….Mommy Knows Best!