Wednesday 29 March 2017

Getting some sense - Learn to read your baby's body language

Learning to read your baby’s body language and understanding how she perceives the world through her senses could radically change your approach to parenting, according to a new book by Megan Faure. Bernice Mulligan reports

Bernice Mulligan

What parent doesn’t wish their baby could talk instantly from birth?

It would make the process of parenting so much easier: instead of throwing your hands up in exasperation about why he or she is crying, you could simply ask them, and then put the issue to right.

Well, according to occupational therapist and expert on sensory integration Megan Faure your infant child does have a language with which she wants to communicate, all you need to do is to learn it.

According to Faure’s new book, The Babysense Secret, the body language and signals a baby communicates with hold the key to raising a calm and happy child. By understanding how babies experience the outside world, parents can develop an awareness of how your baby is feeling and what they need at any given point. This allows you to establish a fl exible routine which suits both baby and parent, based on the baby’s natural cycle of alert and sleep states.

“Parents don’t realise a baby’s innate capacities right from birth,” explains Faure. “The majority of a baby’s brain is made up of brain cells that take in information in the fi rst year, ie sensory brain cells. Once you understand how your baby takes in information, you can then use that knowledge to help your baby’s sleep patterns, to help treat colic and to deal with numerous other issues,” she says.

Your baby’s sensory states

To understand how a baby communicates, you fi rst have to understand the different sensory ‘states’ they go through during the day, explains Faure. “There are six in total, which can be further broken down into sleep states and wakeful states.”

Knowledge of these six states allows parents to build their day around their baby’s natural rhythm and more easily identify a reason for distress when their baby signals this, she says.

A key state to take notice of, according to Faure, is the active-alert state, when your child will kick vigorously and can easily suffer from sensory overload, and move into the next state: crying.

Preventing sensory overload

“New babies can easily become overstimulated by our busy and demanding world, but once parents can recognise these signs of stress, they are able to adjust the environment to reduce or remove the stress and keep their baby calm.

“Self-soothing is also hugely important, and one of the fi rst natural functions the child needs to learn. Children often self-soothe by sucking their fi ngers and hands, but a newborn can’t actually do this because they can’t manage to get their hands into their mouth. One things parents can do is to swaddle their babies with their hands near their mouth so the child can access her hand.

In the book Faure also explains the different baby personality types, ie social butterfl y, slow-to-warm-up baby, settled baby and sensitive baby.

“Every baby is different. If, from the early days, you start to take notice of your baby’s temperament you can alter the way you interact with her to positively affect her approach to life, and the ways she gets on with others.”

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