You become a parent long before the birth of a baby. It happens when you find out you are expecting a baby and sometimes even before, when the desire, even the thought, of having one arises. And it is there, in the mind and heart of a mother and father, that the idea of the little one takes shape, amidst imagination, dreams and plans. Pregnancy is a period of intense reflection, which allows parents to lay the foundations of the attachment bond with the baby.
For some it is a slow, almost imperceptible process, for others it is a disruptive emotion. Fantasies and emotions are an integral part of the journey. Spending time listening to the baby’s movements in the belly, imagining what they are doing, if and how they are moving, even what their emotions and mood are, is not just a matter of imagination and dreams: it is already a way of entering into a relationship with them, using the waiting time to get to know them, so that the birth is not a meeting, but a getting together. This process of listening, imagination and dialogue, through touch and body positions, is called prenatal bonding.
Already when starting complementary feeding, not only choose fresh and natural ingredients, but share the preparation of meals and be at the table all together. This will reduce their learning curve and promote family harmony and well-being.
Nutrition, right from childhood, has not only biological but also psychological, social and cultural importance. As soon as a baby is born, they are placed on the mother’s breast to promote attachment and a good start to breastfeeding: in this way, the babies receive the best possible nourishment and the deep bond between mother and baby, the so-called bonding, is strengthened. As the months go by, the moments associated with breastfeeding and the first meals continue to be of fundamental importance in terms of relationships and psychophysical development. Already in intrauterine life, the child experiences and gradually perfects their ability to feed and swallow.
Sleep is crucial for the activation of physiological processes and mechanisms that are indispensable for the harmonious growth and development of the activities of the baby. Ensuring them the conditions in which they will be able to sleep well and safely is therefore crucial to promoting their well-being.
There is a direct correlation between bedtime and the child’s bone growth. Thanks to special mechanisms, such as the release of somatotropic hormone, a molecule that orders cells to multiply, bones elongate and skeletal diameters expand. The hormone is produced by the pituitary gland, a gland located at the base of the skull, which works mainly during sleep.
From the very first moments of the baby’s life, the staff at the birth centre make a quick assessment of the baby’s condition (1): heart rate and respiratory rate, muscle tone, reflexes and skin colour are the five parameters that are assessed to assign the baby a number from 0 to 10, the so-called Apgar Index, which stands for Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity and Respiration, namely skin colour, heart rate, reflex to nasopharyngeal stimulation, muscle tone and respiration.
Taking care of your child does not only mean feeding them correctly, watching over their health, ensuring the best conditions for a healthy rest. It means showering them with attention, cuddles and hugs and responding to their needs with awareness. It means preparing a welcoming and serene place within the family in which they can feel protected and safe. Through small but fundamental daily gestures, parents can do a lot to promote their wellness and psychophysical growth.
In the first weeks of life, nothing makes them feel as comfortable as a hug: feeling contained, wrapped in their mother’s arms, recognising her smell and heartbeat, her voice; everything recalls the pleasant sensations experienced in the womb. Now, to get used to their new life, to learn to discover themselves and their surroundings, they need their parents more than ever.
The first years of a child’s life are a tumultuous succession of discoveries and achievements. From the moment they were born and seem to do nothing more than sleep, eat, cry or look around with astonished eyes, babies grow stronger, sharpen their senses, complete the development of their still immature nervous system and absorb information about the world around them, feed on the love of their caregivers, learn to interact with objects and people, to move, to communicate. Mum and dad, now more than ever, are an essential reference point.
According to Thomas Berry Brazelton, paediatrician and child psychiatrist, “the task of parents is not to compare the characteristics of their newborn child with those of some other child, but to observe, to listen and to indulge in their child’s particular lifestyle”.
The choice and correct use of childcare products play an important role in the correct physical and cognitive development of the child and in promoting their well being. Chairs, prams, baby rooms are usually chosen well in advance, based on recommendations from friends and shops but, paradoxically, without the real recipient being asked.
The range of products for early childhood is very wide and diverse and responds to the different tastes and functional needs of those who will care for the child. Are parents, however, aware of the implications that these products can have on the proper physical and psychological development of their child?