Friday, January 9, 2009

Important tips for raising infants

A prospective parent recently emailed me, asking what the most important things she could do in raising her new baby so she is ready to come to school. The advice I give to new parents sounds very easy, but in practice it is much more difficult. The most important thing is to not underestimate your child, ever. Allow your child the chance to do things on his or her own, even if our society typically thinks that it is things that the child is too young to be able to do. Speak to your child often and reason with him or her. Even if he or she doesn't understand right then, eventually it will work and at a much younger age than you might realize. Always present your child with the option of doing things independently, which is difficult because our society is so hurry, hurry and children do take time, especially when learning something new. That means as parents we may need to wake up earlier to allow enough time to walk down the stairs and out to the car themselves instead of carrying them, or put their shoes on themselves, or dress themselves. We also need to be willing to allow for messes. Instead of sippy cups--which allow for no learning to take place--allow your child to drink from a regular cup and spill on themselves and the table. Your child is smart enough to be able to figure out how the cup needs to be held so this does not happen in the future. There is no reason that your baby cannot do everything you do. There is no need for baby DVDs to occupy him or her while you get housework or officework done. Set up a play space on the floor and let him play while you work. Exposure to life is how your child will learn, not the latest "educational" DVDs.

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