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Posts Tagged ‘active alert’

“Please Pick Me Up!”

Darlene Kirtley, MS LPC


No one likes to lie on their back all day and night and babies are no exception. Over the last couple days I’ve seen a few moms just let their babies lay in carriers and strollers.  This is fine when the baby is sleeping; however, when the baby is in his or her “active alert” period of wakefulness it is time to play!   You’ll know your baby is in active alert phase when they are looking at you, vocalizing, kicking excitedly, trying to engage with their parent. This time is “gold” for bonding and neural development so make the most of it!


If your baby could talk he would be saying “Please pick me up! Sing to me, talk to me, read me a story. Hand me a toy to explore and keep my mind active.  It is boring to just lay around all day and so uncomfortable being on my back 24/7.  Please move me around. Sit me on your lap face to face and engage with me.  Hold me chest to chest.  I need variety of position, warm interactions, and mental stimulation. Even though I am young and can’t talk, I need to do more than lay around, sleep and eat. My brain is developing thousands of neural connections a day!”


Also parents, babies need supervised tummy time every day!  Being on their stomach while awake  helps develop neck, back and arm strength as well as providing variety for their developing perceptual skills.


You cannot spoil a baby by picking him or her up as an infant. In fact, the more attentive you are to your baby’s signals at this phase of development, the healthier he or she will be psychologically.  When babies need something, such as food, they start off asking very, very nicely with cute little gurgles, bring their fist to their mouth, root around, etc.  I’ve seen many parents ignore all these signals or try to fix it with a binky.  The baby “ups the ante” and starts crying.  When this is ignored, the baby becomes distraught at his/her inability to get his needs met and cries until red-faced and sweaty.  By this time it takes even longer to soothe the baby, and what do you think that baby is going to do next time he is hungry?  The parent has taught him that it does no good to ask nicely, that only when he is enraged will anyone pay attention.  If his needs are ignored enough times, he will learn to go straight to crying and be harder to soothe.  The child is likely to develop a difficult temperament that will affect his future development, frustration tolerance, and ability to self-soothe, whereas the parent who attends consistently and in a timely manner to baby’s needs has fostered a secure, calm, happy temperament.


Please enjoy your babies!  You are “god” in their eyes and how you treat them and interact with them now has far-reaching consequences.


© 2011 Darlene Kirtley