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Nurturing Your Baby's Trust

by Jeri Carr

When a mother cuddles her newborn baby, she holds in her arms a very unique and sensitive human being. She will find that he cringes from the light and that he clenches his fists tightly. He gets over-stimulated easily, and he cries at the littlest things! He may want to be held all the time and seem to want to nurse all the time; these things help calm him. He may be afraid to sleep alone--after all, he is used to being with someone 24 hours a day–and he feels secure when he sleeps next to his mother. He recognizes her smell and her voice. His mother is his lifeline and his stable shelter in this new and confusing world.

A newborn gets scared when his mother doesn’t promptly respond to his cries. Crying is his main form of communicating, and his cries tell his mother that he needs something. If his mother doesn’t answer, he doesn’t understand that she is “busy” doing other things or helping other people. He doesn’t understand why he is being left alone to cry, or why his mother, perhaps in the same room, is ignoring him. To him a minute is an eternity. When a mother quickly answers her baby’s cries and responsively meets his needs, her baby begins to trust that she will meet his needs. The trust that grows between them and the example of love and service she is showing to her baby will, as he grows older, help him learn to wait and to put others first.

A mother can be confident that answering her baby’s cries and meeting his need for comfort, as well as hunger, thirst, and all other baby needs, is clearly part of God’s plan. The heartfelt desires she has to nurture and protect her baby are God-given. In the Bible we see a mother as someone who is gentle and tender (I Thessalonians 2:7) and who comforts her child. In Isaiah 66:13, the Lord, our perfect example of a loving parent, says, “. . . As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” (NIV).

A breastfeeding mother may be hesitant to nurse her baby as often as he wants to nurse--which may be very frequently, especially in the first few months when a baby is working on establishing his mother’s milk supply and is growing very fast. Another reason a baby wants to nurse often is because breastfeeding is designed to offer a baby comfort as well as nutrition. The Bible acknowledges the part a mother’s breasts play in comforting her child, for in Isaiah 66:11 God, comparing Jerusalem to a nursing mother, says, “For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance“ (NIV). A mother need not be afraid that she will spoil her baby by nursing him when he wants to nurse, but she can rest knowing that his earnest desire to nurse is part of God’s plan. Lactation experts agree that nursing on-cue helps assure that a baby gets enough milk; plus, frequent nursing can help delay the return of fertility and create natural child-spacing. Also, the fervency of a newborn’s desire to nurse is acknowledged in the Bible in a very positive light, for in I Peter 2:2 we read that we are to, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word” (KJV).

As a mother watches and listens to her baby’s cues--his squirms, his funny faces, his whimpers, his cries--and responsively meets his needs accordingly, she and her baby begin to understand one another more every day, her baby’s trust in her grows, and their relationship blossoms. Through their loving interaction her baby learns that he matters, that someone cares deeply for him. Their relationship sets the stage for all his future relationships with other people, and, most importantly, his mother’s loving, responsive, compassionate care of him helps him learn what a great, caring Father in Heaven he has. As Psalm 22:9b so beautifully says, “. . . you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast” (NIV).


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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

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