If you are a parent of a young child, you have most likely been forewarned by many people about making sure you don’t “create bad habits” with your child (sometimes people just simply refer to these as “habits”, minus the “bad”, but then imply it’s something you must change, leaving the “bad” as unsaid but clearly present). Usually these people are talking about one of the following:
- Nursing or cuddling your baby to sleep
- Holding your baby while s/he sleeps
- Nursing on demand, including for comfort
- Holding or soothing your crying baby
These are, apparently, the “habits” you must break your child of. Apparently they will do damage to your child, to you, to your relationships, your sanity, and quite possibly global peace. I ask instead that we consider our infants’ behaviours a little differently. You see, although the strict definition of a habit is, “A settled or regular tendency or practice”, when it comes to parenting you will see it almost exclusively used to refer to what parents do for the children. Therefore, what if instead we viewed habits from a biologically normal perspective? That is, what if we started off with what babies will biologically expect and then deem any action or inaction that deviates from that as the creation of a habit?
With this framework, I will explore the usual “bad habits” and help parents understand why we should not only not view these as “bad”, but why they have evolved to help our infants in the first place. From this understanding, parents can focus on ways to respect their baby’s needs when changes are necessary.
Running Time: 35 minutes