Raquel Anderson has 14 years of experience as a mental health provider in institutional and private practice. Aside from her private practice, she is an advisory board member for the Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County’s Be Merge Initiative.
There are many different ways you can choose to parent your child. While experts and doctors have released a variety of methods, only you know what is best for your child. What kind of parent will you be? Bundoo Behavioral Health Specialist, Raquel Anderson, explains that you can start your parenting style as early as 9 weeks old.
Bundoo: At 9 weeks old, babies are still learning so many basic things. Is there anything in particular you recommend parents can do to help their baby’s brain development? Physical development?
Raquel Anderson: Interact with your baby. When your baby is cooing, talk back. This baby talk is extremely beneficial to your baby’s development. Babies learn to mimic sounds. Hearing you coo and “talk back” to them builds their self-esteem. They love to hear you pattern their sounds back, and it demonstrates your interest and attentiveness to your baby. These are the first “conversations” you have with your baby. Start conversing early and often with your baby.
Do you have any particular parenting method you like or would feel comfortable recommending to parents?
Parenting methods are individual- or family-specific. As your relationship with your child develops so will your parenting strategy. There are many published methods, so I suggest parents stay educated but focus on what works for them and their children. Experts have written many books on many children, but only you are the expert on your child. Glean what you can from others and apply what works for you, your family, and specifically your child. Both Attachment and RIE parenting have qualities that I find appropriate and functional. We should treat our babies, and children, with respect and provide a nurturing and safe environment. A positive about the RIE method is it allows for the parent to meet the baby’s needs without hovering; however, I do feel that children are children and should be regarded as such. There is a natural tendency toward baby talk, and some would argue it serves a purpose in the development of language. An eclectic approach would be combining strategies recommended from various different parenting methods.
Are there are any parenting methods you don’t recommend? Why?
I encourage parents to stay clear of methods that don’t come naturally to them. Methods are born out of a need for peace and fulfillment. I have found that many new parents use philosophies as a rule book and get overly anxious if they do not follow the strategies described to the letter. This is not the intent of a parenting philosophy. Regardless of the parenting method that best fits you and your family, there will be times when, for one reason or another, you will need or want to stray from it. When this happens, try not to allow guilt to set in. Guilt ushers in stress and a level of self-questioning that shakes your confidence. No parenting method can be effective in this case.
How important is discipline at this age? Is this something parents should be thinking about now, or is it too early?
At nine weeks of age, discipline should not be a focus of parenting. There really isn’t much to discipline. At this stage we are teaching babies progressively to self regulate. They are getting better at sleeping through the night, learning to self-sooth when upset, and are becoming more patient. These are skills we are teaching, not a matter of discipline. The focus is on interacting with your baby and establishing a safe and secure environment.