Your Baby, Stress, and You

Welcome to the Baby Buffer Program!   In the past 20 years, we have learned how veryKathy_finalweb important the first years of a baby’s life are to the rest of his or her life!  Science has shown that there are two major factors that literally shape a babies brain.  The first is the quality of the child’s environment –most important is the bond between you and your baby.  The second major factor that affects brain development is stress. There is a study that was done in the 1990’s called the Adverse Childhood Experience study.   The study showed that children who had many severe stressors in childhood had a whole list of physical and mental health problems as adults.  We live in a stressful world – and too much stress can be “toxic” to the developing brain.  All children – all families – experience stress.  Supportive, responsive, caring adults “buffer” or protect the brain from stress and keep stress tolerable instead of “toxic” to a baby’s brain and body.  In other words – you!  As a parent, you have more power than you know.  The goal of the Baby Buffer Program is to share the science of baby brain development and to give you tools so you will be a buffer for your baby.

I know both the joys and the stress of parenting.  As a pediatrician – I thought that I Kathysdaughterwould just know how to be a great mother.  It turned out to be more complicated than that (see picture of then 3 year old Sam).  Ed and I are the parents of two beautiful girls.   Our oldest, Samantha, was six weeks early and in the NICU for a week. And then had colic for 4 months.  That doesn’t seem so long now, but seemed like forever then.  Our youngest, Alexandra, was born with a congenital heart defect and needed surgery soon after birth and several times since.  And she didn’t like to eat and she had trouble gaining weight.  Boy was I stressed.  But I had lots of people who came to my rescue. My husband. My pediatrician.  My family.  My friends.  Even my neighbors.  And so the stress was tolerable for me – and I think I was able to be there for them.  I could be a “baby buffer” for my babies.

I recently heard Dr. Harvey Karp (author of “The Happiest Baby”) give a talk about parenting.  He said something that stuck with me.  He said that in most other societies, parents don’t have to “go it alone” nearly so much as parents do in our society.  Being alone in this is too hard – and believe me, your baby will know if you are stressed or depressed.  Part of Baby Buffer is to help you manage stress in your own life so that you can really be emotionally available to “be” with your baby.  It really does take a village.  Find yours.  Take care of you.  Because you are your baby’s “best toy”.   Babies don’t need things so much as they need to snuggle and play with you.

Sign up for the emails today.  Explore the website.  And share this with someone who can be on your “Baby Buffer team”.  Someone who can support you as you begin to do the very most important job in the world.

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