Babies need interaction, engagement, and attention, especially from their primary caregivers. Babies are trying to communicate as soon as they’re born with every cry (I’m tired!), every curl of the lips and wiggle of the tongue (I’m hungry!), and every nuzzle of their face into your chest (I need comfort!).
The importance of responsiveness and tuning into baby’s needs cannot be overstated.
Parents who continually ignore or reject their baby’s bids for interaction and reassurance don’t create a trusting relationship. Attachment has nothing to do with whether baby is constantly attached to your body. (Although going skin to skin and using a baby carrier can make it easier to be attuned to baby.)
When mama and baby are in sync, their biological rhythms are, too. For example, during face-to-face interaction, their heartbeats become coordinated with a lag of less than one second. When parent and baby are out of sync, baby gets stressed.
Ignoring for now the lifelong implications of consistently ignoring your baby’s cues, watch what happens in just two minutes of being ignored.
Harvard researcher Ed Tronick conducted “still face” experiments in which mothers simply gave a blank stare when their babies wanted to engage. The babies tried smiling, pointing, waving, and screeching, all to no avail. Babies then began to turn away, cry, and slump.
Can you imagine anything worse than someone you love ignoring you for reasons you can’t understand? This baby certainly can’t.