How to prepare a baby’s environment starting from birth to two years old
Many theories around caring for newborn babies have been developed over the years. Some a bit exaggerated ones say that the baby should be isolated as a hygiene matter, or that only qualified nannies should take care of him, away from the mother and family. Of all these theories, the latter has the most devastating effects on the future adult, and in the following lines, we will aim to understand why. Also, we will discover who are the people and what are the things a baby needs during his first few months.
The newborn ideal environment
Right after birth, a baby needs an environment that is as close as possible to the one in the tummy, and this environment should be changed slowly and gradually, to allow time for adaptation. This means that the newborn needs to be as much as possible in physical contact with his mother, the temperature should be as close as possible to the one inside the tummy. The light should be dim and the level of noise low, as the baby is coming from a place where he was very close to his mother, dark, warm and with barely any sounds.
Because he is so sensitive and not used with the external environment, the newborn shouldn’t be touched too much, especially by strangers. The habit of all relatives to come and touch him, take him in their arms and kiss him all over right after birth is not helping the child at all, and the reasons are barely hygienic. Doing this might scare him about the place he ended up in, instead of giving him time to adjust.
This adjustment period doesn’t last long, usually, just a few days, till we slowly change the environment from the tummy-like one to our own: decrease the temperature, increase the light, touches, and noises. This will encourage him to continue to explore the environment he was born into without fear or denial.
The first developed senses
Shortly after birth, the baby starts his activity in the new environment. As his bones are not strong yet, he can barely move. That is why his first activities are more related to senses and perceptions. He pays great attention to everything happening around him and learns based on what he notices. If we take a close look, we notice how the baby moves his eyes in all directions, exploring and taking in everything that happens around him.
By the time he starts to walk, the baby absorbs from the surrounding environment all the information he is exposed to. He learns the mother tongue and foreign languages, that he will speak perfectly for all his life. He learns the culture, its habits, religion, etc. and this way he’s constructing the basics of his character, defining him for life.
The way he learns during this period is not through logic like we adults learn. His mind is like a sponge that absorbs absolutely everything from the external environment he’s exposed to. That is why it’s recommended that we take the baby with us everywhere, expose him to very diverse environments and speak to him in all the languages we want him to know. And it is equally important that we behave well and correct around him, even if we think he’s not paying attention. Any quarrel will be remembered and all the bad words will be learned by the sponge minded baby.
How to prepare the ideal environment for the baby
Taking into account everything we’ve discussed so far, how will the baby best environment look like? We talked about the first days of life when we should recreate the tummy environment and slowly change the conditions so the baby’s transition is smooth. But once he is adjusted to the new environment, how do we get ready to offer our baby a rich learning experience in the world he just arrived into?
The answer is a pretty simple one: the environment we should prepare for the newborn baby is exactly the same world we live in and where we want the grown-up baby to feel good about as well. Are you the type of parents that go out often? Visiting others? Or shopping? Take the baby with you! Do not make him stay home with the other parent. Do you have guests? Keep the baby close by, even if he’s just sleeping in the same room. Make sure he can see you and that he can see as much as possible of what is happening around, in case he is awake.
During this period he will learn everything he needs to learn for a balanced life, using all his senses (seeing, hearing, touching). He cannot learn by being isolated in one room. He needs to know and take in the world he lives in, and the only best thing we can do is to expose him to as much interaction as possible with this world.
In the same time, if we see he’s interested in a certain thing, person, moving object etc, we should let him watch, explore and observe that thing for as long as he’s interested. We cannot know what will trigger his interest, but when we notice something catching his eyes, we should let him be curious and explore until the end.
Have you noticed that a baby carried in his parent’s arms or in a baby crutch never cries? This is because his curious mind is being kept busy with all the things he sees, hears or touches. That’s why you really should take the baby with you and expose him to your real life. It’s the only way you can make sure the baby will be happy living in our world when he grows up!
*The article is inspired from “The Absorbent Mind”, a book written by Maria Montessori, digitally printed version, August 2016