Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by the Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital.
Six-week-old Sophia begins to fuss in her bassinet as she wakes from her nap. Her distress diminishes as her mother picks her up, holds her about a foot from her own face, and begins to talk to her in a high-pitched, sing-song cadence familiar to parents around the world.
“Did you have a nice nap? Is Mommy’s girl ready to have her lunch? I’m going to change your diaper and then we’ll settle down to eat.”
Sophia’s eyes lock onto her mother’s, clearly mesmerized by her parent’s running commentary. While Mom changes her diaper, Sophia continues to gaze at her, hanging onto this flow of sounds, smiles and touches. Sophia sucks on her hands, kicks her feet, and makes her own attempts at communication through eye contact and vocalizing.
To the observer, this parent-child interaction may appear ordinary. But Sophia’s back-and-forth with her mom, repeated many times throughout the day, is laying the foundation for her future. Her developing brain thrives from the sense of security her mother’s touch and voice provide. Having an adult dependably responding to her cues, needs and interests, while narrating the world around her, is helping to give Sophia a great start in life.
None of us are born knowing how to parent. Some people may have lots of experience with babies before having one of their own, but others may feel a little intimidated by the new responsibilities. The isolation of being home with an infant can also feel overwhelming. There is so much to learn as a new parent, and it can be very helpful to find a community of other people who are learning from their babies together. Thanks to a grant from Kohl’s Cares, The Parenting Center is offering The Incredible Years® Parents and Babies class, an eight-week program for families with infants birth through six months. Every week moms, dads, and babies (couples or single parents) can come together for fun, friendship and information. Through activities, discussion and video vignettes of real-world interactions between parents and babies, The Incredible Years® identifies some of the ways parents’ responses can nurture their child’s optimal social, physical, emotional, and intellectual development.
Sharing ideas with other parents, especially about coping with the challenges of life with a newborn are an important part of the program. Singing, playtime ideas, “giveaways,” helpful handouts, and a baby journal also make for a fun (and free!) experience.
The Parenting Center will be offering The Incredible Years® Parents and Babies program beginning on Wednesday, April 6 from 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. at Broadmoor Arts and Wellness Center, but space is limited and registration is required.
For more information visit The Parenting Center’s website or call 504-896-9591.
About Lisa Phillips
Lisa Phillips, MSW, GSW, is a social worker and has been a Parent Educator at The Parenting Center at Children’s Hospital since 2001. She received her BA from Occidental College and her MSW from Tulane University. She is the mother of two teenagers.