Creating Magic Moments with Baby Throughout the Day
Throughout the day we have care tasks that must be done with baby, including changing, cleaning and feeding. We do these things multiple times a day, and they may seem mundane and a chore. However, these daily tasks are fantastic times to create magic moments with your little human, turning seemingly mundane tasks into magical interactions, helping create a respectful and loving relationship.
There is a lot of pressure in society to stimulate your baby, take them to lots of different classes and outings, constantly “entertain” them. This can be stressful for the parents or caregivers and also for baby! You may get to the end of a day and worry that you didn’t do enough with your baby today, leaving you feeling like a “bad” parent. Yet, it is our every day interactions with baby, during our every day tasks, that create the most impact and help to create the strongest bonds. You don’t need to go to the latest and best baby classes, buy the newest toy or gadget, filling your days with activities and unwanted stress. Everything you need to connect and help your baby develop and grow, is right there at home.
Of course it can be wonderful getting out to some classes, meeting other families, learning something new and being out of the house! However, when we overload our schedule with TOO many activities, all of the little interactions throughout the day may risk getting pushed aside and rushed through. When this happens, it can be easy to miss out and on these everyday magic moments. (related: The Case for Quiet Time – How Sensory Overload Causes Stress in Babies)
So what are some ways we can bring magic back into our daily tasks?
5 Daily Tasks Where Magic Moments can be Created
- Changing/cleaning your baby. Changing a dirty diaper can seem like a chore! Especially when baby is wriggling around trying to roll away. How can we make this task more enjoyable? When changing your baby’s diaper, make eye contact with them, smile and sing songs. Try not to rush through the interaction. Take your time and explain to your baby what is happening. “I am going to take your diaper off now,” “Oh! Isn’t that wipe cold!?” “You have a very wet diaper. Shall we put a nice dry one on?” “I am going to wipe your bottom now.”
Talking and interacting with baby in this way will help them become a participant in the activity, rather than a passive observer. It is also a great way for baby to learn and develop their language skills! This also applies to changing baby’s clothes. You can try talking to them about what is happening, “time to put your right leg in, now your left leg,” “we are putting on a green shirt today, it is very soft!”
Explaining to baby what is happening will encourage them to help with dressing and undressing, and soon you will notice them pushing their arms and legs into their clothes, and paying attention to each movement.
- Bath Time. Bath time is a great sensory activity for your baby and there are many ways you can connect during this time. Describe the sound the water makes, “splash, splash!” Talk about the temperature and how it feels (warm, wet, soapy). Tell baby which part of their body you will be washing, “I am going to wash your face now.” If baby is showing signs of distress, for example whining and turning their face away, give them some time. You can explain that you will wash a different body part first, “let’s wash your arms first and then we will wash your face.” The face is a very sensitive area on a baby and they often do not like having their face wiped. When it is time to wash their face do one small area at a time while explaining what is happening, “I am going to wash your cheek first with some warm water…now I am going to wash your nose…now I am going to wash under your chin….now we are all done!”
Singing songs and making eye contact will help make your baby feel more comfortable in the bath and will help turn bath time into a more enjoyable experience.
- Feeding. Whether you are breast feeding, bottle feeding or baby is on solid food, meal times are a wonderful way to connect and create meaningful moments in your day.
If breast or bottle feeding, do your best to limit distractions during at least a few feedings during the day. Put your phone on silent, turn off the TV, make eye contact with your baby, hum or sing a soft song, stroke their skin, talk about feeding, “yum, does the milk taste good? The milk is filling up your belly!” Feeding is a wonderful time to feel close and connected to your baby.
If your baby is on solid food, you can use this time to talk about how the food feels, tastes and what it looks and smells like. Allow the baby to explore the food with their hands (yes this is messy! But they are learning a lot!). While baby is eating, consider turning off the TV or other distractions. This will allow baby to focus on their food and on you. It will give them the chance to fully taste, feel and smell the food they are consuming. Make eye contact with baby as much as possible during this time, and try not to rush them. Allow them to eat in their own time, giving them breaks between each bite. When baby shows signs of being full, respect their cues and avoid forcing baby to have another bite. Baby is listening to their body, and honouring their wishes let’s baby know that you respect them and their body.
- Shopping. While you are shopping for food or other items, try and engage baby as much as possible. There are so many things to see, hear and smell when out shopping, and all of this is new to baby.
In the grocery store you can talk about the different smells, colours, textures and foods. Allow baby to handle some of the fruits and vegetables you are buying and talk about how they feel (round, smooth, prickly, etc.) Show baby what you are buying and tell them what it is. Make eye contact as much as possible, engaging your baby in the activity. Respect your baby’s cues. Shopping can be fun and stimulating for baby when they are engaged, but they can easily become over stimulated. If baby starts to become upset, see if there is a quiet place you can take a break before continuing on with your shopping.
- Walking. During a walk either for leisure or when on your way somewhere, try and engage baby in the activity as much as possible (unless of course they have fallen asleep!). Being outdoors is wonderful for the mind, body and soul, for both you and baby. Try talking to your baby about the weather, how the air feels, what different animals you can see, the plants you pass by. Try not to cover your baby’s view of the world during the entire walk, allow them a chance to view the world around (there may be times you do need to cover baby up, and that’s OK). Make eye contact with baby during your walk and touch them occasionally if they are in a stroller.
If you are using a stroller, consider a parent-facing seat. This will allow you to talk to your baby, read their cues and make eye contact with them. It will also give them a chance to communicate with you.
It is during these every day tasks that baby will have the chance to learn and grow. You will have many moments throughout the day, even on a busy day, to talk, laugh, and connect with your baby. Your baby will be an active participant in their day, rather than a passive observer. They will become more willing and able to help with care tasks, and recognize these times as happy ones. They will feel respected and loved.
Giving yourself space and giving baby space
Connecting, interacting and stimulating your baby are all wonderful things, however there are times throughout your day that you may both just need some space. There is a lot of pressure on parents to constantly entertain their babies. Yet when we’re constantly trying to entertain them, these interactions can lose meaning and become a chore, rather than a magical moment.
It’s OK for baby to lie down in a safe place and be free to explore, move and play in their own way, without the interference of an adult. It’s OK for you to have a coffee and sit quietly while your baby enjoys their own time. These are chances for you to refresh and recharge and for your baby to explore and discover what they can do all on their own!
When a baby is given free time to move and explore, they are using their own internal motivation to learn. They have freedom of movement and discover how to roll over, sit up, crawl and stand, without the aid of a baby contraption or the helping hands of an adult. They are not relying on an outside source to entertain them, they are using their own internal motivation to learn, discover and grow.
When we are fully present in our daily interactions with baby, they learn so much from us. We are building healthy attachments and respectful relationships with them. We are teaching them that we enjoy their company and value their input. They become an active participant in their daily life. So when it comes time for “free play,” baby feels comfortable, confident, and happy to play and explore on their own, for they have received a number of incredible, meaningful and loving interactions with you throughout the day.
Relieving the Pressure
Rest assured, caring for a baby can be hard! With so many people telling you what to do and how to do it, it can become overwhelming. You may suffer from feelings of guilt over not having done enough with your baby in a day, or maybe guilt because you weren’t able to follow all of the advice that has been given to you. Or maybe you are just so exhausted that the idea of leaving the house makes you want to lay down and cry! All of your feelings are valid and real. So what can we do to help relieve some of this pressure?
Take each day as it comes, allow yourself to go with the flow. How are you feeling? How is baby feeling? What will and won’t work for you today? Don’t worry about what you think you are “supposed” to be doing, focus on what you CAN do. Take those little moments in the day to interact and connect with your baby. These little daily tasks, that you are already having to complete, are the perfect time to connect. There is no pressure for you to go out, practice a certain technique, entertain your baby endlessly, or prove yourself to anyone. Just enjoy these little moments with baby. These are the moments that you will remember, these are the moments that will last a life time.
Questions or comments? I am here to help and support you! Please get in touch.