Understanding children: Babies being heard
Understanding children: Babies being heard

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Understanding children: Babies being heard

6.3 Responding to need

How adults react to babies’ needs will depend on a number of things. These include how relaxed they feel about being a carer and what they have learned from their own childhood about caring for babies. It also includes what is considered to be good childcare practice at the time, wider cultural expectations about bringing up children, and their particular feelings and relationship with the baby in question. A mother or father who has an idea of how they think babies ought to behave and what their baby will be like – for example, that the baby will sleep through the night and will quickly take to breastfeeding – may be disappointed if their baby does not do these things. They may think it's something they are doing ‘wrong’ and their feelings will affect how they treat the baby. Sometimes adults put their own interpretations on baby behaviour. For example, a baby who cries when it's hungry but doesn't get food quickly enough may cry louder and harder. This may irritate its carer who thinks the baby is being ‘naughty’ and may keep the food away for longer to try to ‘teach’ the baby to wait. But the baby doesn't understand what's happening – he or she just wants hunger satisfied and to have attention, so continues to cry. This shows that carers can get into patterns of behaviour with babies that are unhelpful to both sides.


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