QUESTION: I am a young mother
of a four-month-old girl. I have not gone out without her since her
birth because I am nursing. Family and friends are starting to tell
me that staying with her all the time is not healthy for her or me,
yet I feel no need to leave her. I will be starting university in the
fall and think I will have a hard time leaving her, but I don't think
it will be overwhelming, since I really trust the baby-sitter. Is it
really so unhealthy to be with her all day?
ANSWER: Being with your
baby at this age is not only completely natural, but definitely healthy!
You are enjoying it and you are aware that you will be separating from
her in the not too distant future in order to finish your education.
This represents a natural evolution of your mother-infant relationship.
You will separate from her as is necessary for your development, while
taking care to place her with someone you trust.
There really are no hard and fast rules about when
it is healthy or unhealthy to separate from your baby for the first
time. It is all a matter of the individual mother-child fit. There
is no reason to artificially force a separation. If you are happy
to be with her, she is best off with you!
The entire first year of a child's life is a crucial
period. It is during this time that your daughter forms the foundation
for establishing basic trust. This will be the early blueprint for
all other relationships. In fact, her ability to form lasting and
rewarding relationships depends on the amount of emotional security
she has established in her primary relationship with you. The more
you intuit and meet her needs now, the more secure she will be in
the future. Being with her assures the best possibility for secure
attachment. Your time with her is precious and valuable to your bonding
and future mother-daughter relationship. You acquire knowledge about
her- what she likes, dislikes, what scares her or makes her laugh!
You are sharing a very special time of bonding with
your daughter at this age. The more time you feel comfortable and
happy spending with her, the more you will get to know who this little
being really is! Do not let others interfere with your very healthy
maternal instinct. Trust your feelings. You know your baby better
And remember that as your daughter's mother, you
are someone who cares deeply about her and is committed to her best
interests. This sets you apart from others who will care for her.
It is through your watchful eye that others are hired to caretake
her because you know her needs and because you are the one who will
oversee her development for the next 18 years. The more you can be
with her now, the better! Do not feel guilty for your attachment.
Let your instincts and feelings be your guide. You are in the best
position to know what is right for your child.
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