Jessica Stebbins, MS, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern
Discovery Institute, P.A. Rockledge, FL
Serving Brevard County
I have to admit that I subscribe to more than one parenting magazine. As I picked up one of the magazines recently, I noticed a headline on the cover stating “The #1 Secret to a Happy Baby”. This intrigued me right away as I began to think of what I believed to be the biggest factor for a happy baby. I found the page with the article and discovered that this magazine states that the baby’s routine is the biggest secret to a happy baby. I do agree that a routine is important (if you have not already, you can read my blog article “Schedule VS. On Demand for Infants”) and actually found that the article reiterated much of the same information that I had discussed in my past blog article on the same topic.
Although some parents who are eager to have someone tell them what to do may think that the article is stating that creating a routine is what will make you happy, they are really stating that it is finding the right type of routine for you and your baby that will make you happy. I would like to broaden this statement. It is my belief that a happy mom (or other caregiver) makes a happy baby. Although I have not looked for research to back me up on this, the rationale is as follows. We have all heard and probably experienced that babies are very good at picking up on others emotions and often share in those emotions. For instance, many people have noticed that as they begin experiencing a negative emotion, the baby becomes upset and begins to cry. Although I cannot explain how babies sense others emotions, this is an important skill while they are learning about the world around them. Baby knows that they are new in this world and look to their caregivers for clues on what is going on and how to feel. Although we notice how negative emotions affect baby’s most often, our positive emotions also rub off on baby just as much.
When mom or dad is happy, they send signals to their child who imitates some of these behaviors. Baby enjoys having mom or dad smile, coo, and play with them which happens more frequently when a parent is happy and is more genuine. This extra attention helps them to feel that they are loved and cared for which helps in giving them a feeling of security and also stimulates them mentally.
As far as how a routine might be able to make your baby happy, children in general do thrive when being on a schedule, but again, you must make sure that the schedule works for you, baby and the rest of the family and has enough flexibility to be able to accommodate changes instead of variations increasing levels of stress. This is something that you must learn on your own, and cannot be told to you by any baby “expert” or “friend” on facebook.
If you are in the Brevad County area and in the market for a therapist, please give me a call.