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Bonding with Babies
Babies and moms benefit from breastfeeding. As a public health nurse who’s worked with pregnant moms and their babies for years, I’ve seen those benefits firsthand. Mom and baby form a physical and emotional bond. Breastmilk supports a baby’s development.
We celebrate these benefits in August during National Breastfeeding Month.
Sadly, research shows fewer black moms breast feed their babies compared to white moms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black babies die at twice the rate of white babies because black babies are born too small, too sick, and too soon. CDC reports if more black moms breast fed, 50% fewer of their babies would die.
Black Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 25-31) began six years ago to raise awareness of the need to get more black moms to breast feed. This year’s theme is Love on Top, which means love encompasses everything we do as parents from breastfeeding to nurturing others. On Aug. 28, the Tacoma City Council passed a proclamation to recognize Black Breastfeeding Week and encourage everyone to nourish our families, communities, and future.
Put yourself in a ‘baby’s booties’ for better understanding.
You don’t have to be a mom—or even a parent—to promote better emotional and physical health for moms and babies. I learned about a strategy several years ago called speaking through the baby.
When a baby cries, you probably wish you could do something to soothe the baby. Speaking through the baby allows you to put yourself in the baby’s shoes—or booties—to understand the baby’s needs better. If the baby could speak, what would the baby say:
- Mommy, I’m hot.
- Daddy, I’m tired.
- I need a change of scenery.
Say what you think the baby would say out loud. Direct your words to the parent as if you were the baby using a loving and kind voice.
Some examples I’ve used:
- “Mommy, I’m not being a brat. I just want you to stop and hold me for a minute.”
- “Mommy, I’m not trying to make your life miserable. I just don’t have the words to explain to you what I need.”
A successful strategy that goes beyond baby talk.
I’ve used this strategy many times. It never fails to get parents to pause and provide some sort of response or remedy, always in the favor of the baby. At times, the parents will respond to the baby as if the baby had spoken. This strategy helps parents understand their baby. It takes time to get to know your baby, and it takes attention. Sometimes, we get it wrong, but with time, our communication improves.
As a supporter of moms, baby, and family, I challenge you to put love on top of all things. If a baby needs soothing and you aren’t sure what to do, try to speak through the baby.