The newborn’s journey to independence
Right from his birth, the baby starts a long and slow journey towards developing into a human being. And the first steps he’s going to take starting with day 1 is towards becoming independent. Let’s find out more about how he’s taking these steps and how can we, as mothers, help him turn into a grown-up we’re going to be super proud of!
What pushes the babies towards development?
If we’re thinking about the way a baby learns how to walk, we all know they fall and rise again many times before they actually manage to walk the first step. But the baby never gives up until he succeeds, and he also doesn’t get upset, right the contrary, he’s laughing, interpret everything as play and starts again. And this is because of an unconscious will, or an instinct the baby has within himself. This will pushes the baby towards growth and development, through play, enthusiasm, and happiness. We find this thing natural, it’s only normal that the baby is discovering his body, senses, thinking, mobility, language, etc. But either way, this instinct present with every baby is unstoppable.
The steps towards independence
The first step towards independence is coming into this world through birth, when the baby leaves the mother’s tummy and is separated from her, starting to breathe and eat by himself and not through the mother.
The first organs that the baby develops are the sensory ones so that he can perceive the outside world. This way, he gets ready to explore and absorb the world he was born into, learn as much as possible and understand everything that is happening around him so he can develop and adapt.
With the help of his seeing, hearing and touching senses, the baby absorbs everything that is happening around him, so that later on, when he develops his thinking filters, he can analyze everything he absorbed till then. But within the first two years, the baby learns and absorbs absolutely everything from the environment and the world he is exposed to.
At six months old, the teeth start to show up. Also, by now, the baby’s stomach starts to produce chloric acid, mandatory for digestion. This way he takes another small step towards independence, as so far he was able to eat only breastmilk, while now he’s getting ready to be able to eat everything else.
Also around this time, the baby starts to squeal and this way to produce his first sounds. Later on, these sounds will become more and more clear, turning into words. Through speaking, the baby’s step towards independence is huge, this way he’s going to be able to tell what he needs and wants. Before speaking, the baby is dependent on his parents to guess what he needs and cannot say. But once he can speak he can express himself and be understood more easily and accurately. Imagine how frustrating it is for the baby to keep trying to say something and not being understood, while his needs take so much time to be resolved. Well, this period is overcome once he manages to start speaking using the language of the world he lives in.
After one year, the baby starts to walk. He frees himself this way from another cage and dependence: he can walk alone and reach the places he wants to go to, all by himself! Simultaneously, he can orient himself within the space he’s in, coordinates his movements, lift himself up and fall less and less.
All these developments and “conquers” of the world can only happen in this order, as they are connected with the baby’s brain development, his spine, nerves, and bones. For example, at birth, the baby’s bones are soft, only when they harden up the baby can lift himself and start walking.
How interacting with the environment helps the journey towards independence
To reach full development, the baby’s now developed organs need to be put to work. To understand what I mean by that, let’s think of an example. If, once the baby starts speaking, first making quite a few unrecognizable sounds, we isolate him, what do you think will happen to him? It will be similar to the Jungle Book story, the baby not being exposed to our vocabulary will turn out dumb, speechless, or at least incapable of speaking a language we understand.
That’s why the baby needs to be exposed to an as diverse as possible environment so that he can practice all his senses the moment they start developing. Once he can walk, taking the first steps, then exercising, walking, and running are all necessary for him to build and strengthen his bones.
Once he becomes independent in any of these functions, he’s developing it moving further by having the freedom to use it and to explore things through it. When he starts talking, don’t stop him. When he starts walking, let him walk, run, jump and explore the surroundings.
This way he will gain the confidence to continue his journey towards independence: he will want to carry heavy things, to eat by himself, get dressed and undressed alone, etc. It’s useless for us to tell him to stay put or be good, and this is not because he’s stubborn. He’s not, he’s just developing himself and this drive comes thought his exploration instincts.
All we can do as parents, and it will be even recommended, is to make sure our loved babies have this freedom to explore in a safe environment, that doesn’t put their health to risk of injuries. Let’s make sure their playground is child proof, and that the toys and objects used are safe, etc.
During his development, the baby will reach a stage when he’ll start questioning why things are as they are in the world he sees. He will need to understand why some things are the way they are and pass everything through their own mental filters.
This way, he will become free and independent, and this is what our aim is as parents. He will reach that stage through continuous exploration and a lot of effort. That’s exactly why a baby will start very early to want to do things on his own, even if they are harder. Refrain from helping him, let him try again and again, even if that’s torture for yourself. He will succeed in the end, and he’ll be so happy because of this!
I really hope this article will help, at least some of you, understand what your baby is going through and how you can offer him support during the journey towards becoming a grown up!
*article inspired from “The Absorbent Mind”, a book written by Maria Montessori, digital printed version, August 2016