It’s late at night and you are alone with your newborn.
You rock him gently.
He folds his tiny body into yours.
Together, you are one.
As a teacher and life-long student of movement in early childhood development, I can tell you that the timeless tradition of rocking your child to sleep, is foundational for many aspects of his early development.
But as a mum of three daughters, and now a grandmum, above all, I know this to be true -- the Mum in you is born in that rocking chair deep in the middle of the night…
Soothing your child when he is stressed is essential for his overall well-being, and in this strange new world he’s been born into, rocking most closely resembles the familiar, comforting sensations of the womb.
But, chances are he’s not alone in looking for touchstones of familiarity. Now separated by birth, feeling the weight and warmth of his tiny body on yours is a closeness you both need and only the two of you can truly understand. I believe in those moments, the idea “I am Mum” is sealed.
FOUNDATIONS FOR SELF-CALMING
The comforting tempo of rocking to and fro will help him understand that when he is in your arms his needs are being met. With that assured, over time he can begin to develop the ability to calm himself.
And there, rocking gently in your arms, is one of the greatest gifts you will ever give to your child.
SAFETY & SECURITY
Trusting that he is safe in your care can be a powerful influence on his overall disposition and outlook on life. A child who feels safe and secure is more likely to feel that the world is a good place, approaching life with a healthy, positive sense of curiosity and optimism, shaped and guided by you.
But I’m guessing, in those first tentative weeks, all of that must seem far away and maybe even a bit daunting. Here’s what I found – time together not only created my children’s trust in me, but gave me confidence in myself to be their guide.
The natural rhythm of rock-a-bye time contributes to your child’s overall sense of Body Rhythm – a critical foundation for his physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development. Body Rhythm actually begins in utero by the constancy of your steady heartbeat, and serves as a source of soothing comfort each time he hears it.
More, as you rock together you are creating a rhythm all your own – that “sense” of one another you can’t explain, but is clear for all to see... and for all time.
Babies are not born with a sense of balance. It must be developed. Gentle, slow rhythmic rocking is one of the best, early activities you can provide to help them build foundations for balance and “get their bearings.”
Yet between the two of you, it may well be that you’re the one more in need of “balance.” Motherhood is overwhelming (especially the first time out), and chances are you’re not feeling your usual sense of control. I wish I had the answers for you, but I don’t. Instead, I will leave you with these two thoughts...
1. You’ve had a child and your life has changed forever. Lucky you!
2. Advice is nice, but only you know what’s important for you and your family. The faster you decide, the faster you’ll regain your “balance.”
BONDING & ATTACHMENT
Quite often, quiet time like rock-a-bye is associated with the concept of bonding and attachment, the process newborns go through in the first weeks of life that creates their sense of belonging.
Parents go through the same process of course, only it’s usually far more automatic and dramatic. In that single moment of birth, adults transform from “me” to “we,” instantly and forever, redefined by our own child.
That very redefinition, born of love, explains how in the wee hours of the morning, overcome with exhaustion, there can be no other place to be.
And over the years, you’ll both return to this place time and again to gently rock away all of life’s boo-boos and disappointments, heartaches, misadventures, and uncertainties. Because here, safely in your arms, the two of you together as one, are sure…
Mum can always make it better.