Skip to main content

What’s It Like to be a Baby Part I

Part 1: What Every Parent Needs to Know                                                                                             

The birth of a child is one of the most exciting moments for parents. There are so many expectations about the future of a child – his profession, his personality, will he take after his grandmother, the artist or will he take after his father, the doctor. Part of the parents’ excitement are the many things they want to show their newborn someday. This article aims to acquaint parents with what’s happening in their child’s brain from birth to 2 years. 

The human brain takes 20 to 21 years to fully develop. As a parent of a new born child, you already know how long you would have to help your child before his brain fully develops! Hence, it is important to be aware so that expectations can be matched according to what is possible for your child. 

When a child is born and the umbilical cord is cut, there remains a psychological cord between the mother and the child. The first need of the baby that has to be met is to establish a bond with the mother. In fact, many societies recognize this, that is why, when a child is born, it is immediately given to the mother to hold and nurse. This helps the child cope with the trauma of being born! As adults now, we do not remember it, but being born is traumatic because there is a change of environment – from womb to the outer world. The mother is, in most cases, the only person the child recognizes and being with her, hearing her voice and being nourished by her milk means, for the child, that everything will be alright. 

A lot of theories in psychology explain that if the child was not able to bond with the mother during these very early critical days and weeks after being born, he or she might grow up untrusting. He or she will become an adult who has difficulty trusting people. Studies among monkeys show that, when the young was not able to bond with the mother after being born, although given nourishment by other means, they become extremely disturbed animals. 

Babies cannot differentiate between experiences. They actually do not have sense of “me” yet. As they grow older, they will sense patterns and routines but as a young infant, everything from sucking milk, to bowel movement are happening without a sense of time. One thing a baby needs to learn is how to differentiate “me” from “not me. Textbooks label this as the “ego development”. The earliest memories of a baby are so loose, like a mosaic, because he cannot organize them yet chronologically. This is why we have little or no memories at all when we were infants. 

Another thing, for babies, dreams are real. They are not yet able to differentiate dreams from reality. To summon the mother, the baby can imagine the mother to be in the room. For him, the imagined mother is real. In fact, for children 3 to 4 years old, dreams are taken seriously. Imagination, fantasy, and dreams have a role to play in your child’s creativity. This is why fairy tales, fables, nursery rhymes are important at this stage.

If you want to know more about what happens to your child as he or she gets older, check out our blog for new articles.

by Juno Parungao, Ph.D.

Educational Psychologist