How do babies learn to love?

Have you ever wondered what it is that you can do to help your baby feel loved, safe and good about themselves in a way that will last them for the rest of their lives? Here’s what parenting expert, Naomi Aldort has to say about it.

How babies learn to love by being loved

Babies learn to love by being loved…

“In my counseling work I help parents free themselves from parenting advice that negates what they feel instinctively, and suggest they respond to their baby intuitively”, says parenting instructor, Naomi Aldort. “A mother who is able to follow her own heart will respond to every cue of her baby with care and love.” “A baby does experience emotions and is in need of feedback from the parents”, she adds. “From what they ‘mirror’ back to her she develops a picture of who she is.”

Help your baby learn

  • “Can I count on my own feelings?”
  • “Can I trust myself?”
  • “Can I trust others?”
  • “Will I be cared for?”
  • “Do I deserve to be loved?”
  • “Am I a loveable person?”

If the baby fails to elicit nurturing responses from her primary caregiver (usually the mother) she will shut down a part of herself. For example, the infant who yearns to sleep close to Mom’s body, will feel terror if she is made to sleep alone. She has no concept of time, experiences only what is happening in the present and has no understanding that her needs might be met later.

A baby left to cry alone at night, will fear her survival is at stake. First she will cry in anguish, but later give up in despair if not responded to. She will see herself as not deserving care, not being worthy or loveable, and no longer able to trust her own inner voice.

Such a baby is learning

  • “What I want must be wrong.”
  • “Mom must be right: I must be wrong”
  • “I don’t deserve to be loved.”
  • “There is something basically wrong with me.”
  • “My needs are never going to be met.”
  • “It’s no use trying: I must give up.”

Getting it right

“When we respond to her cues, she feels safe and secure. Love and joy then arise naturally as the content of what it is to be human. The rapidly growing cells of the baby’s brain are recording what she is learning about life. How we feel during pregnancy, how we give birth and how we care for the baby, are creating neural pathways in her brain, forming who she will become and how she will see the world”, says Naomi.

“The well cared-for baby does not need much. But if her needs are not met, she may cry for a long time, creep to the edge of her space to get to Mom, tighten her body, reach out her arms, clench her fists, or hold her breath in distress. But a bonded and responsive parent will be able to read the baby’s language and meet her needs, providing a secure foundation from which she feels competent, loved and worthy.”

Responding to the cues

“We can understand a baby’s needs from observing her body language – is she relaxed with open arms, or is her body stiff and her muscles tight? There is nothing more heart-breaking than an infant lying screaming with an arched back, and arms reaching out to be held.”

“Such body language does not occur in a baby curled peacefully in Mom’s arms or at the breast. But a baby who is crying and upset can be lovingly held and allowed to express her hurts in our arms. Expressing our feelings with a safe, caring person creates healing.”

“As the baby grows a bit older she starts to smile, coo, and signal to her mother when she is being held and responded to. A well-bonded baby does not need to use crying to get her needs met in the present. She turns her head or moves her mouth to show that she wants to be fed, signals her need to eliminate, or tightens her body when stressed.”

See how they grow

“By a few months old, a baby will tell you what she wants with elaborate body language, e.g. wanting to be in the arms of your partner or reaching out to be back in yours. She expresses joy, and may pull away to signal that she wants to exercise her body on the floor, roll over, or later to crawl.”

“She starts pointing at what she wants, but even before that, she has a way of expressing interest and excitement over something she sees and would love to play with. At a few months old, she offers kisses by banging her face against Mom’s, smiles, and shows joyful expressions.”

“She is growing, thriving and learning to love!” ~ Naomi Aldort

Suggested Reading

  • “Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves”, by Naomi Aldort, (Book Publishers Network, USA, 2006)
  • “Nurturing your Child from Conception”, by Thomas Verney and Pamela Weintraub (Simon and Schuster, USA, 2003)
  • “The Mind of Your Newborn Baby”, by David B Chamberlain (North Atlantic Books, USA, 1998)
  • “The Aware Baby”, by Aletha J Solter, (Shining Star Press, USA, 2001)

e-Book or CD

  • “Welcoming Consciousness: Supporting Babies’ Wholeness From the Beginning of Life”, Wendy Anne McCarty (2004)

Written by © 2015


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