Present Parenting With a Baby or Toddler

We have all been there. Something exciting has happened and you can’t wait to tell your husband, friend, mother, or whomever. You begin telling them about your exciting news, but right away you can tell they aren’t interested. They aren’t making eye contact, and at the end of your story all they say is “yeah, totally, that’s great!” Could they be any more obvious? Babies and children feel this same way when our attention isn’t on them. Although, being a present parent doesn’t mean you forget yourself and submit to everything your child wants. 

Present parenting incorporates a great parenting technique of being engaged, available, and INTERESTED.

Throughout the day B will have different levels of ‘need’. Sometimes he just needs way more cuddles and attention. Whereas other times he goes off and plays on his own for a while. On the days where he is clingy and annoying and I don’t get any breathers, I have noticed are also the days I am focused too much on other things… Maybe I have been on my phone all morning…. Maybe I have forgotten to offer him a snack… To become engaged and aware of not only his physical needs but emotional needs as well, I put all other distractions aside and sit down on the floor with him. I’ll grab a snack or some toys and his attitude immediately changes. He knows I am interested in his needs because I am sitting at his level, and I have listened to his ask for my presence.

Being aware of your baby or child’s needs, is one of the key aspects of present parenting. 

Attachment parenting, positive parenting, and present parenting, all focus on making a secure bond or attachment with your child. Create a foundation upon which your child can feel safe, accepted, and unconditionally loved. What does this mean? Don’t we all want our children to be important to us? This is more than just a level of importance or priority. It is developing and strengthening the natural bond between child and caregiver. It is discovering and learning the needs of the child, and acting to fulfill those needs unconditionally. Just as I mentioned before, children have different kinds of needs. 
According to Maslow, humans have different types of needs. These are some examples of needs for a baby/child:
  • Physiological needs- Breastfeeding/bottle feeding, food, water, sleep, diaper changes, warmth.
  • Safety needs- Security: caregiver is available to answer cry (form of communication). Small babies rely 100% on YOU for everything – as they get older you can help teach them how to protect themselves. Baby-proofing – babies are curious and can get into dangerous situations if not supervised.
  • Love/Belonging needs- Let’s face it, this is the only stage where your baby or child will unconditionally love you!! They also need to receive love unconditionally. Building strong relationships, a mothers voice and a fathers hug can be comforting. Cuddles and snuggles!
  • Esteem needs gaining self-respect and respect for others. Toddlers are constant people-pleasers! Accomplishment and positivity.
  • Self-Actualization needs- To ask a baby or toddler what they think of themselves is a bit much! They are discovering and exploring the world around them, and this teaches them independence, goodness, playfulness, and how to be problem-solvers.

Start your journey of becoming a more present parent

  • Have the desire to be more involved. Make an honest effort! Although there are many things that can distract us from giving our children attention, make sure they know you are really there with them and that you want to be. Put your phone away. Put the book down. Make eye contact and talk to them! Babies can understand the tone of voice we use and certain phrases from such a young age. I describe everything to Beckett as we go around shopping malls, around the trail at the lake, and even the color of our clothes when doing laundry. 
  • You are GOOD ENOUGH! YOU are the only person designed to be a mother to your baby. No one else can replace you. Having faith in yourself that you know what is best for your baby, will help you to have peace. Peace is sometimes a luxury! Accepting that you can’t control everything, but that you can make changes in your life to be happier and more peaceful will help you to be a better parent. Part of parenting is realizing that you will never be perfect. However, you are the perfect parent for your child. 
  • Take care of yourself- remember that your needs are important too. Physical, mental, and spiritual needs are meant to be worked on constantly. Just like eating and sleeping become habits, we should be taking care of our emotions, having mental coping methods, and becoming closer to God or becoming spiritually mindful. Take a break once in a while and treat yourself to something you like. You deserve to have happiness even if you are busy. Check out: Taking A Well Needed Break
  • Breastfeeding – are you tandem feeding your baby AND your phone? Put the phone away and focus on your baby. They are only small and adorable for such a short time. I mean they just get cuter and cuter, right!? But seriously. Take time to bond with your baby during breastfeeding. Beckett has always been a quick nurser. He’s like a state-of-the-art vacuum sucker! So throughout my busy days chasing him around, the only ‘down time’ I get is when he is nursing. Of course I’m gunna pull out my phone! Then one day I looked down at him to see his big blue eyes of wonder staring up at me. I could be making a more special bond with my baby if I just put the phone down… Unless he is sleeping, I don’t breastfeed and scroll. 
  • Try to really focus on the needs of your baby. When a need of a child is met, it goes away! If a child is cold, hungry, thirsty, tired, or whatever it may be, fulfill that need and the crying will stop. Hopefully! Get to know your baby or child better. We spend so much time learning and discovering how to take care of them. We learn their preferences, tolerances, sensitivities, likes and dislikes, so focus in on these and create a special bond with your baby. Fulfill their emotional needs by offering more hugs and kisses. Just hold your baby. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be close and connected.
  • Plan some fun uninterrupted activities with your baby. Involve your baby or child in an active way to learn more about the world around them. We also have to accept our child’s way of play. It might not be conventional, but children love to play with the weirdest things in the weirdest ways. This is them trying to understand the world and how it works – LET THEM! A great activity is book reading! -Right now, when B sees a book all he does is eat it. He will literally sit there or walk around the house carrying a book and eating it! Just about every book has a chewed up corner on it. Some other ideas are: picnics with toys on a blanket outside, sensory activities with water/snow, shape sorters and brain games.

Tips for having less stress in motherhood

Simplify your life. Being parents, our lives can become busy and stressful. Try freeing up some time in your schedule to spend quality time with your baby.

If you are a stay-at-home-mom, try making a list of daily or weekly goals to accomplish that don’t interfere with baby time. In fact, INCLUDE your baby in housework. Check out: Tips For Cleaning With A Baby.

Manage your emotional stress. Finding coping methods that help us deal with the riggers of motherhood will bring us more happiness and peace in life. Find things that help you relax and feel independent and loved. -Hot bath, reading a book, exercise, painting, re-discover your IDENTITY!

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