It is a common perception that babies do not know any better and that they are “just babies.” As a mom, I say that this age-old concept couldn’t be further away from reality.
There are more to babies than you think!
Now, before you dismiss what I just said, allow me to share with you my own experiences with my child.
I recall a time, not so long ago, when I was breastfeeding my month-old son while watching a movie on television. The scene depicted a mother who was trying to pay a ransom to get her kidnapped child back.
Fueled by the lack of sleep and how overwhelmed I felt by motherhood, I retorted to my suckling child: “If you were ever kidnapped, I won’t pay the ransom to get you back.” (Yes, I said that and I'm ashamed to admit it!)
My child pouted... and then he broke into full-blown wailing.
It didn’t matter to him that my breast was still squirting out the glorious milk that was supposed to satisfy him. Somehow, what I said had disturbed him far more than his hunger could bother him.
I told him I was joking, just to appease his little mind. But he shot me a pensive look as if he was not sure if I was truly joking.
Then he went back to crying his poor little heart out.
As my husband laughed at the whole incredulity of the situation, I decided to take back my words. “Okay, alright. Even if it took a million dollars to get you back, Mommy will pay the ransom. Okay?” I told my baby gently.
The moment I ended my sentence, he stopped crying and showed me a gummy grin.
Bear in mind, the little boy was only 6 weeks old when this happened.
I don't think there were any other factors that could possibly have fueled his sudden bout of unhappiness, especially since he was nursing at the time. He had never broken off midway through a feed for all the time after he was born, and there was no reason for him to suddenly do so out of the blue.
Aside from this unforgettable incident, there have been far too many events where my baby seemed to display full understanding of what was happening around him. This includes my conversations with his father, during which he would find all means and ways to make himself heard and/or noticed.
Some babies are fast learners
On a separate occasion, when he was 6 months old, my boy refused his favorite baby cereal, spitting out whatever was put into his mouth. Thinking he wanted a change in menu, I brought out his other favorite food — pureed fruits. It was not well received either.
He yelled, screamed, and kicked his legs while sitting in his high chair, simply refusing to eat anything. And then I saw it: his tiny fist clenching and unclenching, doing the baby sign for “milk.”
We had started teaching him baby signs only days before that incident, and so did not think he would have picked them up so soon. So, just to confirm that he really wanted milk instead of a meal, I asked him if he was certain he wanted milk.
To my surprise, he glared at me and shoved his hand into my face, all the while clenching and unclenching his little fist with a fervor I had never seen before.
Needless to say, I gave him a bottle of milk even though it was dinnertime. Ever since then, I have kept a keen eye on his hands in case he might be signing something that I might overlook due to my short-sightedness.
Babies are individuals — 'little human beings'
It was the previously mentioned incident that finally changed my misconception that babies were “just babies.” In fact, they have their personal preferences as they also have their distinct personalities.
The truth is, babies are definitely more than just babies. They are little people, little human beings, who will one day grow up to be adults with specific preferences in every aspect of their lives.
Sometimes, while we’re busy trying to decipher our babies' elusive 'language' of wails, screams, squeals and chuckles, we often overlook the simple fact that they are trying to behave just like us. Listen closely and you’ll often hear them mimicking our usual adult responses of “hmm”, “huh” and “uh” in the most appropriate situations.
My child, now an inquisitive 1-year-old, 'says' no by shaking his head, and yes by going “uh.” I don’t think any doctor has ever warned parents about this, but nodding our head requires much more skill than shaking it.
So when you question your baby on anything in the near future (this is presuming you give them the freedom of choice in their daily lives), be sure to keep a keen ear to that possible “uh” that he or she might be replying with. Just because we’d like to believe that they “know nothing,” it doesn’t mean that they are truly clueless!
Have you ever had experiences similar to the ones mentioned above? Share them with us by leaving a comment!