Hello! I’m Sarah – a wife, coffee addict, adventure lover, and mama to a sweet little man named Miles born in April 2015. We are currently residing in the beautiful, small town of Boise, Idaho and sharing our life via Instagram and blog – Raising Miles.
I’m so pleased to be a part of a series that is allowing moms to share their real-life advice.
The road to parenthood was a sweet journey for my husband, Zac, and I. We loved every minute – from the second we chose to have children to the minute we glimpsed our positive pregnancy test and that long 40-week stretch of planning and anticipating our bundle of joy. Needless to say, 40 weeks gives you a lot of time to discuss your child and especially (for us, at least) how we wanted to interact with him.
Those first few weeks (well.. months, even) your kiddo may seem like an eating, sleeping, pooping machine.. with a few giggles thrown in the mix. Regardless of baby’s age or ability to show you, he (or she) is learning. And it’s important to interact with and stimulate your newborn each day.
We’ve had almost 4 months with our little guy. Here’s what we’ve been up to:
We love singing and reading to our son. We put on Pandora and sing Disney songs. We dance around the house. We sing in the car.. and act pretty silly while doing so. At night, before bed, we include a bedtime story as a part of our nighttime routine. We also talk out loud to Miles throughout the day and point out his surroundings.
Ditching the Baby Talk
Even at only a few hours old, baby is soaking in everything in his environment including what Mommy and Daddy are saying. We do our best to minimize the baby talk and speak to our little one in full sentences (..not in sing-song voices or “goo-goo-ga-ga’s”). Studies have shown that children who grow up hearing proper speech show more confidence in public speaking and do better at language acquisition. Also, this is a vital time for baby to be learning sounds and syllables. Speak up and speak clearly!
Bumping Up the Positivity
It kills me when I hear parents being negative to their children. If your children LOVE doing something, support them. (Unless it’s super harmful or dangerous, of course.) Don’t belittle them. Tell them their ideas are important. We wanted to instill in Miles at a young age that he is important, so we make it a point to tell him he is everyday.. how he can be anything he wants to be – and, no matter what, Mommy and Daddy will always love him. We have stressful jobs and not everything is picture perfect, but when our son is around, we do our best to be cheerful and show him the best sides of us. Whatever stresses may arise in our jobs, our marriage.. we vow to leave baby out of it.
Expressing Our Love
A friend of ours, Joe Hunich, runs a blog and corresponding video project called I’m A Dad. (*Hint Hint: Ladies reading – share this with your kiddo’s dads!) When we first met Joe, I was only a few weeks pregnant with Miles. As we prepared to welcome our newborn, Zac loved watching Joe’s I’m A Dad videos on Vimeo and listening to what other dads had to say about fatherhood. One message that forever stuck out to us was that one father “wanted his children to grow up knowing that Daddy loved Mommy”. He wanted them to hear it in his speech and see it in his actions. And, much in the same way, we want Miles to grow up knowing his parents love him and love each other. We want our household to be filled with love. We want to show it in how we speak, how we sit together around the dinner table, how we treat others, and how we interact with one another.
Babies understand more than we think. We constantly tell Miles what we are doing each day – conveying the information to him the way we would to any adult. In helping him to learn patience, we have started early at explaining things to him. When we have to put him down I tell him why (“Mommy needs to fold laundry. I will be right in the next room.”), when we have to leave for work (“Daddy had to leave for work before you woke up, but he loves you and he will be home in just a few hours.”), and when he is frustrated (“We are almost home, Miles. You will be out of your carseat very soon.”) Even if he doesn’t understand the vocabulary yet, we believe that he understands our tone, attitude/mood, and body language. Our hope is that if we are honest and open with him from the beginning that he will place trust in us and feel comfortable opening up to us as he gets older.
Creating a “Safety Net”
Someone once told me that children who seek out their own experiences in the world are those who feel safe and supported at home. If the child feels that they have a safe and nurturing home environment to fall back on, (s)he will be more likely to put him (or her)self out there – be stronger, more independent, and courageous. This is in comparison to children who feel criticized or uneasy in their surroundings at home. Such children may shy away from opportunities to advance in school, jobs, etc. because they feel as though they don’t have the ability to succeed. Zac and I have been working hard to create a “safety net” for our son. We want him to feel safe, loved, cherished, and supported. We try to comfort him through our physical contact and words, tell him he is intelligent, loved, and that Mommy and Daddy will keep him safe. However, we also don’t believe in sheltering him. We take him out in public (even on overnight trips), encourage interaction from strangers, and want to show him that there is value in being kind and adventurous in life.
Another way that my husband and I enjoy interacting with Miles is through sign language. (Zac and I actually met in an ASL class in college.) Some parents say that babies can pick up on signing faster than spoken language. We think it’s just plain fun – and a neat way for baby to learn a second language at such a young age.
However you choose to interact with your child, always remember that your actions often speak louder than words. It is a great gift to be such a large part of shaping the heart and soul of a tiny human.
Wishing you all the best in parenting.