Your emotions affect your baby’s mood
Read this article to find out how babies sense a parent's emotions and what a parent can do to prevent transferring negative emotions to her or his baby.
I recently visited a friend who was a new mother and she complained that her baby cries a lot. She also said that she often feels anxious and upset because she doesn’t know what is wrong with her baby and she doesn’t know what to do.
After asking her a few questions, I found out that most of the time she already felt anxious, troubled or upset even before her baby begins to cry. As a mother of 2 myself, I shared with her how I unraveled the mystery of my babies’ moods and behavior.
Your baby senses what you feel
Based on my experience with my 2 children, the times when they cried the most were also the times that I felt tired, stressed out and panicky because of the many concerns I had in mind. I even complained about my babies needing too much attention during those times.
Later on, I realized that their mood and behavior were not primarily caused by what they felt at that time but because of what they sensed from me. I had negative emotions then and they seemed to mirror it.
On the other hand, during the times that I felt relaxed, they also appeared happy and calm. They would only cry if they were hungry or wet.
This experience could be related to a study published in the journal Psychological Science, that states that babies can detect changes in their parents’ voice tone, touch, and smell during stressful situations. So, in a way, mothers’ stress may be “contagious” to babies.
How do babies sense your emotions?
Even when you don’t say anything to your baby while you feel upset, he or she can distinguish your feelings through non-verbal signals such as touch, eye contact, body language, facial expression, space or distance. There will always be a slight difference in the way that you touch or hold your baby when you feel stressed or when you feel calm.
How you look at your baby, the way you pick him or her up and the expressions on your face will all demonstrate your true feelings even if you try to deny it.
Verbal cues such as your speech pattern or the tone of your voice will also reveal that you have positive or negative feelings as you care for your baby.
If you are angry or tired, your speech pattern may vary from the tone of your voice when you are not irritated. You might also raise the tone of your voice once you are in a bad mood.
It is beyond human comprehension but babies can understand all the verbal and non-verbal signs that exhibit our feelings. And when they feel that you feel that way they would also display the same emotion and behavior.
Just as with everything else, parents are considered their role models when it comes to displaying emotions, so babies will basically reflect what they sense in their parents.
What should you do when you feel negative emotions?
Give yourself some time and space to overcome your negative emotions. It is not good to make your baby sense what you feel, which may result in you transferring that negative emotion to him or her.
Sometimes, it is best to leave your baby in a room where he or she is safe and go out for a few minutes to cool down. Once you have calmed down, then you can go back to taking care of your baby.
There are also other things you can consider.
- Take a time-out by hiring a babysitter.
- Go to the salon or spa or even to the gym.
- Watch a movie at home with your husband and your baby.
- Go out on a dinner date with your husband or lunch with your girlfriends.
- Bake a favorite pastry.
- Cook your favorite dish.
- Go to a beautiful scenic place where you can unwind and relax.
- Take a few minutes to pray and thank God for your baby.
Hopefully, after you've done any or all of the above, you can come back to your baby feeling recharged and happy.
Remember that a happy and relaxed parent makes for a happy and relaxed baby. So, why you don’t go and give yourself a break now?
What do you do when your emotions start to get the better of you? How do you calm down when you're feeling stressed and anxious while caring for your baby? Share your tips with us by leaving a comment.