Who Needs a Teddy Bear When You Have a Teddy Baby?
A newborn can see clearly for about 8 inches, just far enough to focus intently on his mother’s face. It is almost as if the initiative to bond comes from the baby first, especially when I consider the fierce hand grip they are born with.
To ensure an infant is fed, he is also born with an incredibly powerful rooting reflex. These traits help to draw out strong protective love from both parents. For me it was almost a magical transformation from an exhausted woman in labour to a glowing mother adoring her newborn.
Even when all the kids were still little, I decided to share this magic with them. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made to enable mutual respect and love to flourish in our family. However, at the time I was forced to literally watch the clock to make sure everyone would get a chance to hold their new sibling.
It seems to me that the children bonded to each other because even our toddlers were given the privilege of holding the baby. With excitement twinkling in their eyes, barely containing their joy long enough to sit still while I propped up one of their little arms with a pillow, they looked extremely proud and pleased as they too held the baby.
Bedtime became something to look forward to for about three months after the birth of our newest addition. I would wrap the newborn tightly in a warm blanket and let each child cuddle up to a living and breathing teddy baby. This quiet time alone with their sibling allowed warm, nurturing love to flow between both children and it eliminated jealousy. The focus was no longer just on the baby but on an older child and the baby.
As I nursed, it was easy to give the older children my mental and emotional attention by listening, talking, reading books to them, helping with homework, and even playing with one hand. I can honestly say that no one resented all the time each newborn demanded because we were all part of caring for the baby. Little ones were proud to run for diapers, clothes, or blankets and older kids would choose rocking or pushing a colicky baby in the buggy over washing dishes any day.
One of our family jokes concerns the day I managed to relate to five people at once! I was laying down on our bed, back to back with my husband as he read and I nursed a newborn. A toddler lay curled around my head, playing with my hair. I was fixing a knitting mistake for a seven-year old and talking to a ten year-old.
I am pretty proud of that family joke.
Melanie Jean Juneau is a writer from Canada who raised nine kids on a hobby farm. In addition to having an awesome sense of humor, a way of spreading joy through email, and mompowers I can’t even imagine, she blogs at joy of nine9 and is a regular over at CatholicMom.com.
Read more posts in the Mom to Mom series.