Ask Amma

Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Breastfeeding – done yet?

In When on 3 July 2012 at 8:09 pm

My family and friends don’t get why my son needs to nurse so often. I am an older mom and my friends with kids don’t seem to have breastfed much or don’t remember – it was all so long ago. It doesn’t help that I am not getting much else done … I am a type A personality who till last month hardly spent a waking hour at home. No one is asking me to use formula, but they don’t seem to understand why breastfeeding takes so much time! Isn’t he done? they will ask, and I get tense, as if I have to know the answer. I am hoping to continue nursing for years (not just months) and I need positive responses and positive images to keep up my spirits! – new mom in Chicago Read the rest of this entry »

Where Should Baby Sleep?

In Where on 26 May 2012 at 1:30 am

Difference of opinion: Where should baby sleep? I strongly feel its always better to have the baby bed next to the mother rather than putting the baby on a crib. My husband feels that sleeping separately would make baby independent and he also feels that we might accidentally hurt the baby if we all sleep on a queen bed ( we currently have no room for a king bed). How do I convince my husband?

mom-to-be in Maryland

You have told me your opinion and your husband’s opinion regarding where baby should sleep.  There is one more opinion that deserves consideration, and that is the opinion of the one who is sleeping – the baby!  Nestled in the arms of a parent, comforted by human warmth, sound and breathing rhythms, babies sleep and learn about the world around them.  Unlike other primates that “cling” to their mothers, “human infants are dependent upon their mothers to ensure that proximity is maintained,” says Professor Helen Ball of the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab of Durham University in her article Bed Sharing and Co-Sleeping: Research Overview . Read the rest of this entry »

Cloth or synthetic diapers?

In Why on 26 May 2012 at 1:24 am

Cloth Diapers Vs Synthetic Diapers: My husband feels it is quite strenuous to deal with washing and drying the cloth diapers. I feel, at least during the day time, it would be nice to use to a cloth diaper to develop a bonding and increase the baby’s communication with the parents.

-mom-to-be in Maryland

I have never met a baby who liked to sit in his own waste. Not for a moment. I have often stood by helplessly as I saw babies protest having a diaper put on them.  My husband and I used diapers for months before recognizing, in retrospect, all the signals our baby was giving us to keep the diaper off and allow her to relieve herself in peace and with dignity. Read the rest of this entry »

Is it Necessary to Have a Doula?

In Yes / No on 26 May 2012 at 1:18 am

How necessary is it to have a doula in the delivery room?

mom-to-be in Maryland

You give birth, your baby comes forth into the world.  Strictly speaking, no one else is necessary.  But they can be helpful – if you need help.

I think someone who believes in you and builds your confidence is worth having close by while giving birth.  Someone who can give a good massage, suggest appropriate movement, positions, breathing, and other steps to reassure you and your family in times of doubt, pain and uncertainty can make an enormous difference during labour.  Read the rest of this entry »

How do I make my daughter write?

In How on 9 May 2012 at 3:37 am

My baby is [age].  A week ago she started to learn to write … but she doesn’t want to write and refuses to hold the pencil.  Otherwise she loves to scribble on the wall but doesn’t want to write letters and she starts to cry.  Please help me –  how do I make her write?

– from Mothering.

Can you tape a large paper to the wall, at the height accessible to her?  Then she can scribble freely.    I have visited homes of parents who paint one wall black and keep chalk available for children and visitors – of all ages.

My guess is that she does not want to write letters designed by others because she is busy exploring the pencil and its possibilities.  Imagine that you have arrived at a beautiful mountain and are being asked to sit and study a particular rock.  Your limbs yearn to wander about the mountain.  Even if you stay and study the rock, your mind is wandering.  On the other hand, after running about to your heart’s content, if you then study the rock, you may actually be more curious and whatever you learn will stay with you as you continue exploring.

As babbling is a valuable stage of experimentation with language, so is scribbling a valuable exercise – making lines and curves and shapes appear, as if no one had ever done it before.  It will lead to writing, but it is also valuable in itself, and should not be rushed or cut short.

Baby on the train – whom to sensitize?

In How on 11 April 2012 at 4:37 pm

While it is ok for D’s experiments to carry on at home with full freedom, what about outside where other people are not as tolerant? Do I need to restrict her when she is being a little bit too friendly for other people’s liking? Whom do I sensitize – my baby or the other passengers?

– mother of a 2 year old in Bangalore

The message I sense that you are getting from these passengers is, “Control your child, this is not a playground.” Your daughter is thinking, this is way better than a playground – it moves, and there are so many more people to play with! If you agree with her, find more people on the train who share her view and let them play to their hearts’ content. On an overnight journey, try to ensure that she gets enough play during the day so that she is ready for bed at night when passengers are sleeping.

Babies enjoy the Indian Railways … especially the upper berth!

Babies enjoy the Indian Railways … especially the upper berth!

Read the rest of this entry »

Beyond the Sling

In Books on 11 April 2012 at 4:33 pm

Amma has taken a peek at Mayim Bialik’s new book, Beyond the Sling.  So far, looking at what Bialik has to say on such matters as stuff, illness, and Pippi Longstocking, what comes to mind is, she took the words right out of my mouth.  No wonder, as I find that the author is the spokeswoman for the holistic mom’s network.   Let me quote a gem: Read the rest of this entry »

EC – baby losing sleep?

In Yes / No on 17 February 2012 at 5:21 pm

Our son communicates as soon as his diaper is wet, even in his sleep. But once he is awake, he is hungry again. Should we worry about the fewer number of hours of his sleep?

– mother of a 2 month old in Maryland

No, you should not worry. Babies have shorter sleep cycles than we do, and what is normal for your two-month old may seem like frequent waking to you. Though advertisements for disposable diapers make much of the "all-night sleep" that baby will enjoy thanks to the absorbency of the diaper, is all-night sleep really good for infants? On the contrary, Dr. Sears says that "nightwaking has survival benefits" (See 8 Sleep Facts).

Is this pattern of waking and getting changed, fed, and helped back to sleep happening in the daytime as well? Babies take time to adjust to the difference between night and day since in the womb they were in reverse (rocked to sleep by Mama’s movement in the day, woken up when Mama rested). It is like newborn jet-lag. I am wondering if along with feeding, he is expecting to play when he wakes up at night. As he becomes more active in the day, he will come to treat night as sleep-time and fall back to sleep more easily after taking care of business, and may also nurse without waking up.

How do you know? So what?

In How on 27 October 2011 at 3:46 am

ऐसा तोड़ी न हो सकता है … It’s impossible to climb Mt Everest?
आप को किस ने बताया? – How do you know?
तो क्या? …. So what??
कुछ भी बोल रहे हो! ….you’re bluffing

Everything credible is being questioned? Everything authentic is being invalidated? This is a new defiance that I hear in my child….he’s been now 2 months in this mode…what’s breeding here?

– mom of 7 year-old in Maharashtra

Ah, age 7. I remember it well. Reminded me of age 3.5, when the pain of realizing that some things in this world just make no sense seems to have turned upside down the rational world of my earnest little child. We have no answer for that angst. But just because we have stopped asking Why? for so many things, how can we say they should too?

Let me guess what might be prompting your 7-year-old’s questions:
– he wants to test the limits of "facts." Who decided these anyway?
– he wants to know how we know things, and this may be more important to him than the "facts" themselves.
– others seem / claim to know things he does not and he wants to level the playing field, challenge them on what they know

– he gets asked similar questions by friends
– he is going through an "information spurt" where he is getting exposed to a stream of "facts" from people, news, books, media and wants to set up some accuracy and relevance filters, kind of like his own toll both on this superhighway.

As I said, above are only guesses. But I congratulate him on his investigative spirit. If he rejects, for example, the idea that the earth is round, let him keep his search open until he is satisfied. Next time you are on the seashore let him observe the ships coming over the horizon. You need not bring up the shape of the earth, he can if he wants. Probably the specific question was not as important as establishing his right to search for answers himself, rather than accepting facts as stated.

And most (all?) facts hold only within certain conditions – how many times have I said something like "that will break if it falls," only to hear my daughter reply, "not if it falls from 1 centimeter" and promptly demonstrate the same. While the talkback can get annoying, would you actually want the thinking behind it to stop?

Toddler Screaming?

In Why on 26 September 2011 at 8:32 am

My 17 month old loves to scream like the roof was falling, just for the “fun” of it! She might be seeking attention, but getting it doesn’t stop the outburst. It is quite brain numbing. Are there any positive ways of dealing and making things turn for the better, while the iron is still hot?

You must have heard the interpretations of toddlers dropping / throwing things to be experiments with gravity and the laws of motion. Likewise it seems that sound has awakened the scientist in your little one. If she is screaming for “fun” in places where quiet is expected, then are there things you could during such visits that would turn her attention to other interesting things? Snacks, songs, brain-teasers? Elsewhere, can you offer enough time where she can be loud without disturbing anyone, while you manage with earmuffs? Or go outside and shout right along with her? As you try to see things from her point of view, also explain your concerns about the noise and modes of expression – she may not understand everything now, but she will understand that understanding needs to be a mutual exercise.

If, however she is screaming in anger or frustration, then it is important to look for causes – they may not be related to what is happening at the time of the screaming. Life has changed so much for babies and infant bodies may still be expecting the kind of open spaces they have had for hundreds of generations before.   Though I sought to work by consensus, I recognized that the mere fact that our front door was closed was an authoritative restriction that severely affected my daughter’s ability to move about.  She always wanted to be outside, but depended on others to open the door. Because our modern urban world requires us to go outside along with our toddlers, she did not always get the door opened either.

I have seen that when my daughter did not have control over some important aspect of her life, she would express frustration over something that seemed like “nothing” in itself. I knew what others were thinking – that this baby is spoiled, fussy, throws tantrums if things don’t go her way. To address the frustration, however, one must see what one can do to increase the baby’s sense of control and of being respected in the big picture, and not reduce it to the thing that sparked the outburst.

A final suggestion – some amount of role play, modelling polite ways to get attention can help. For example, even before my daughter could say more than a few words, I would tell her, “when you want something, you need to say amma.” Likewise for the rest of the family she learned to say nanna, ammamma, tatayya etc. So when she carried her shoes to the door wanting to go outside, instead of kicking or screaming, she would say, “amma.” We also had a kind of sign language with signs for water, potty, book, open, over, and a few others that she used regularly.

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