Did you enjoy Mother’s Day? Maybe you celebrated the day, or maybe it was a weekend whirlwind, but I’m hoping the people in your world have been celebrating the moms they love and appreciate all week long!
If you’re a mom, you know what mean. No gesture is too small. But even if you’re not a mom, I hope you’ve been celebrating and enjoying the moms around you. You know why…? Because showing appreciation enhances your own life, as much as it does the one you appreciate.
Now then . . . if you’re a new mom, I’m going to take a wild guess and assume you’re pretty exhausted. But in spite of it, I hope you’re peeking through your bleary eyes and feeling enthralled at the wonder that is your precious newborn.
She has your nose, you can see that. And maybe her daddy’s chin? Her hands are a new version of your mom’s…and her ears…well, they look like your brother-in-law’s, but in the tiniest, sweetest form… The more you study her sweet little face, the more you fall in love with her.
You want to do everything you can to make her life wonderful, warm, secure, and full of love. You want her to have the best nutrition so she can grow and develop to her best potential. You’ve looked for the safest car seat, the best pediatrician, the softest fabric books, the smartest toys already, right?
There’s so much to think about. SO much to worry about.
Do you get a pang sometimes, feel inadequate to be the mom she needs you to be? Even wonder if you can live up to her needs as she grows…? It’s completely natural to second guess yourself, in fact, most mothers do at some point. And to sometimes judge yourself harshly — too harshly — as if there were a thousand ways that you’re too poor or too busy or too scatter-brained to be the mom your baby needs you to be.
Oh Mama, we gotta talk.
Good news . . . for good moms
Here’s the good news.
With all the things you want to provide her…the best nutrition, the best opportunities, best schools, best tutoring, best tennis coaching, best, best, best…there’s something you’re already doing that’s such a huge benefit to her, so life changing . . . and it’s almost effortless.
Something that makes all the difference in her future. And you don’t need more money or more time or more focus to do it. It happens when you hold her, carry her, feed her . . . just spend time with her . . .
It’s your presence that’s worth gold to her.
Mom’s presence nourishes newborn neuron growth
You see…Your PRESENCE is actually helping her get smarter. Can you imagine such a thing? When she’s with you, snuggled in bed nursing, or in her stroller on a walk to the park, or in her papoose carrier on your chest or back…your presence stimulates the growth of brain cells…it actually speeds up production, and sparks connections, and makes her little brain so much more powerful.
Isn’t that just thrilling? No one can do for her what you do. Your nurturing nourishes neuron growth in your baby. Stimulates her brain to make more connections through brain cells.
In fact, there’s scientific research that proves it.
Neuroscientists at NYU have made some startling discoveries. It turns out a mom who’s engaged and nurturing her infant can apparently have a remarkable effect on her baby’s brain development.
The study showed that when the baby is in mom’s presence, the signaling production of brain cells, or neurons, in her baby’s brain increases remarkably.
When they’re separated, the brain activity becomes erratic, and brain cell production slows down to a crawl. How about that?
So, apparently mom’s nurturing presence helps regulate and control electrical signaling in a positive way that nourishes newborn neuron growth. Isn’t that wonderful?
Your cooing helps her build her language
So…when you’re with your infant, stimulating those neurons to grow and flourish…just by being there… what do you do with her, besides feed her and change her diapers?
Well, that comes pretty naturally, too.
You pick her up and cuddle her, or lift her in the air…kiss her face… and make happy, loving noises…
Bet you talk to her all the time, right? Make cooing sounds? Repeat her noises with your own?
So… why do you do that . . . do you know?
I mean, she can’t talk back, right? She doesn’t talk yet, does she? Or rather, she doesn’t seem to. So why do you talk to her…? And what is that irrational feeling you have that she is actually listening…? Responding…?
Well, it’s not irrational. And here’s why.
Your maternal intuition tells you to coo to your baby… to mimic her noises and joy … and when you do, you’re helping her build language.
University of Washington study shows the link between cooing and language
A team of researchers at the University of Washington studied the sounds we make to our babies and how it affects them. They labeled the sounds we make “motherese”… all those goos and gaas that are annoying to non-parents (who just don’t get it) but are such a delight to your baby.
And the beauty is, they’re a vital part of the learning process for your baby to build language. So your presence is helping her rapidly develop more brain cells to learn with, and your baby sounds help her to put together the puzzle of language.
No matter who you are, no matter where you’re from, no matter what language you speak, if you have a baby, you intuitively know how to slip into a secret language that babies understand.
When you make exaggerated, clear vocal sounds to your baby, it helps her distinguish language from other sounds. This study found that by the time a baby reaches 7 months of age, she can tell the difference between language sounds and other sounds. And by 11 months, she can tell the difference between her native language and other languages.
She’s an amazing baby.
Follow your instincts by cuddling and cooing
There’s lots more to talk about here, about the parental and baby sounds and the role they play in building language, but the point is, you don’t have to worry about expensive clothes, fancy schools, and exclusive camps. In fact, this is one place where no worries is a blessed relief. By just being there, holding and nuzzling your baby, feeding and changing her, and cooing and talking with her back and forth, you’re giving her an excellent start in life…
…by building her neuron development, her capacity to learn, and her ability to develop the power to speak with language that others can understand.
Just by being a loving mom. How incredible.
I’m a mom, too. A mother of four, and I, too, want to celebrate all the wonderful moms who simply love spending time with their children. And who by doing so, are giving them a great start on their own journey in life.
We at Innovative Psychiatry honor moms everywhere this week, and every week.
If you’re a mom, or a dad, and struggle with emotions that interfere with your desire or ability to be the kind of mom or dad you want to be, please get in touch with us for a consultation. Sometimes things go differently than we expected. And when that happens, we need support. And hope.
Don’t give up on finding your best self,
Lori Calabrese, M.D.