At birth your little bundle is physically and emotionally completely dependent on you, but during their first year you will soon see their personality taking shape.
From the moment they’re born, babies are completely dependent on the people around them. And not just to feed, soothe, burp and change them, but also to instil and develop feelings of trust and security. These are achieved through establishing a daily routine, with some degree of flexibility, and it’s essential for babies to have their needs met in a caring and affectionate way.
Because infants have an innate ability to respond to human faces and voices, your baby will be able to pick up on the tone of your voice from a very early age. In fact, research shows that the connections between your baby’s brain cells develop more rapidly, and are reinforced more effectively, when you use a positive emotional tone when interacting with them.
It’s also interesting to know that, at first, your little darling won’t really be able to distinguish between themselves and you. It’s only as they grow that they start to realise that you’re actually two separate individuals. Just be aware though that this realisation typically leads to separation anxiety. It will take a while before your baby understands ‘object permanence’ and they will worry that you’ve disappeared if they lose sight of you! They may also develop stranger anxiety and become upset when they see people they don’t recognise.
During this first year, your little one will slowly start to realise that they have an influence on their environment. They’ll most likely discover this by accident at first. Such as when they inadvertently kick the mobile above their cot and watch in sheer astonishment as it moves! But, with time, their behaviour will become increasingly more ‘goal directed’ and they’ll really enjoy seeing the effect they have on the objects and people around them. And, just so you know, this is also an imperative early step in ensuring your baby develops good self-esteem.
Your baby’s relationship with you will play a major role in developing their personality. And it’ll set the stage for how they relate to others later in life. It’s truly amazing to see your tiny tot’s unique personality start to emerge, influenced by their own inborn temperament and the nature of your family and culture.
By Anel Annandale, a Mysmartkid expert and Occupational Therapist