The infant is that cute, adorable, pure and innocent human being between the ages of birth and 2 years. This is a very critical time and the most important need at this stage is not just air, water, food, clothing and shelter, which of course are absolutely important. Also of tremendous importance is the sense of trust and security the infant develops. This sense of trust comes about by the parent(s) being responsive to the child’s basic needs of hunger and comfort. The infant is just about totally helpless not able to move on its own, not able to communicate its needs. The only real means of expressing a need or a want is crying. Mothers often become quite attunded to their infants learning subtle expressions of the infant which might mean “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired” and can then act accordingly helping to cement that sense of security and trust.
There are several things parents can do to help build a sense of security and trust within the child:
- Feed the infant whenever he or she is hungry. Generally infants will cry when hungry and feeding would be one of the first responses to a crying infant.
- Change diapers as soon as possible after soiled. You certainly would not like to stay in the clothes you soiled, neither does your infant. Be happy, smiling, talk to the infant in a sing song voice ormaybe even sing, during changing
- When possible, establish a consistent schedule of some activity. For example, if the infant is most often awake and alert at 9am, that might be a good time to be with him or her and sing, read big colorful picture books out loud, google and gaggle at the infant. Basically, provide some visual and vocal sensory input for the infant on a regular schedule, day after day. Of course, such activities can also occur at other times of the day and spontaneity should certainly not be forsaken.
- Hold the infant often; move while holding the infant, sing or hum while holding the infant. Hold the infant close to your chest and let him or her feel your heartbeat. You can also give your infant massage. There are several websites about infant massage.
Although it is not possible to spoil an infant, it is possible to create an unhealthy aura if the parents are too attentive and too overbearing. The infant can withstand, and actually benefits, from some frustration. The sense of trust and security is strengthened when the infant learns that the frustration is reduced or removed in short order. However, it is also possible to engender a sense of insecurity and mistrust which can pervade the infant’s whole life. These negative feelings would come about through erratic, little or no feeding, prolonged frustration or discomforts, lack of gentle, loving touching or holding. Insecurity and mistrust are certainly not uncommon and many adults must deal with such issues. If you interact with people who are, or are yourself, terribly insecure and don’t much trust others, are withdrawn and solitary, part of the reason may be your experiences during infanthood. There’s nothing you can do about it now other than recognize that it’s your infanthood, not your adulthood, and take steps to become more secure and trusting of yourself and others now.
Generally, the most important person in the infant’s life is the mother. The main activity of the infant is sleeping, eating and perceiving. Much of an infant’s perceiving is with the mouth. The infant is nursing, sucking his or her thumb, putting objects in his or her mouth. This is all quite normal and is part of the infants drive to interact with the world, understand the word, and trust the world.