By: Dylan Emrys, MA
Let’s face it, no matter how hard we attempt to slow down our lives, they are fast paced. Meetings, deadlines, schedules…and if you stay at home with your child, you may feel pressured to “get it all done” during the day – and that includes going to the park, driving the older kids to lessons, grocery shopping…
There’s simply a lot going on, most of the time.
It’s normal for babies to protest a fast pace. How often have we experienced a screaming infant in the grocery store or on an airplane? And I’m sure we all know babies who HATE the car seat.
What you may not realize is that if the pace is fast for us…it is light speed for a baby. And that the transition from one activity or location to another can be upsetting for them.
Your baby’s brain doesn’t process information at the same rate that you do, so when you are moving through your life, and taking your baby along with you, she is experiencing a bombardment of sensory input, and may become disoriented.
Think of it this way…lets say you are in a foreign country, and don’t understand the customs or language at all. You know your friend you are visiting, but most other people are strangers. Let’s say your friend, either says something super fast in this foreign language, or doesn’t say anything at all, suddenly takes you by the arm, and gently ushers you into the downtown streets and goes about her errands with you in tow – but with no explanation or time for you to “catch up” with what’s happening. You go from place to place, and as time goes on, you probably become more and more resistant and try to get her to slow down…but what if she doesn’t?
A little overwhelming?
Yeah…welcome to your baby’s world.
Transitions occur several times a day. Anytime you move your baby from one place to another, or change the activity – like if you are playing with her on the floor but suddenly go to answer the phone…to your baby, that can be startling.
For some babies, transitions are bigger than the event itself. What was the biggest transition your baby ever experienced? You got it…his birth. The ultimate transition. How did that go? Consider that how your baby transitioned into the world is also how he perceives all transitions. Without going into a judgment of “bad” or “good” think of what it might have been like for him…was it a long struggle? Scary? Connected? Too much too fast? Out of control? Someone else’s timing? Painful? Smooth?
Your baby may be remembering or reacting to body memories of his birth with each transition he experiences.
Next time you transition from one thing to another, go more slowly and talk to your baby about it…be aware that it might be a bigger deal to her than to you, and see if you can be present for that with empathy.