. In this sense we can, I believe, safely assume that these are the very behaviours that infants have evolved to expect and when we look at their physiological and behavioural reactions to them we see exactly what we would hope for: Securely attached children with minimal displays of physiological stress.
Given the definition of a habit above, why are we not seeing these other inactions as the habits that they are? A baby who is forced to fall asleep alone can develop the habit of falling asleep alone even if it’s not biologically normal. A baby who is forced to sleep separate from others can develop the habit of not calling out to a parent at night or seeking proximity even if it’s not biologically normal. A baby who is fed to a schedule or refused comfort feeds can develop the habit of waiting until feeding times even if it’s not biologically normal. A baby who is left to cry to “self-soothe” can learn to shut up to preserve energy and cease to communicate for help or comfort even if it’s not biologically normal. And in all these we must remember that it’s not just that these acts aren’t biologically normal, but many of them are linked to potential problems, such as increased SIDS risk when sleeping alone, cognitive deficits from feeding schedules, and problems with later emotion regulation from a failure to be responsive to distress. Who’s got the bad habits now?
Next time someone tries to tell you that you’re developing “bad habits” or “making a rod for your own back”, you can remind them that perhaps it is they who are creating the bad habits that can cause problems in the times to come or at least that what you are you doing is totally, biologically, evolutionarily normal.
If you are in need of individualized parenting help, I offer services via email, Skype, and phone on a variety of parenting topics. You can find out more here.
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