Emotional Development Pregnancy - 6 Months
Developing a relationship with your unborn baby is important as it supports your baby's attachment to you and others once they are born.
Pregnancy may stir up hidden feelings, hopes and fears for parents, carers and other members of the family. You may have thoughts about what your unborn baby might be like, what they look like or how they will make you feel once they are born.
As pregnancy progresses so does the relationship between you and your baby. You might feel that you are getting to know them already by their movements and the feelings you get when you think about them. Have a look at our Antenatal Mood page for more information about this.
You can also access free interactive online antenatal course ‘Understanding pregnancy, labour, birth and your baby.’ To access the course provided by the Solihull Approach *Click Here*.
Your labour may be short or long, difficult or easy. It may not be as you expected and this is okay, at the end of it you get to say "hello" to your baby!
Holding, cuddling and skin to skin contact will bring feelings of safety and security. It can also stimulate hormones, such as Oxytocin, which help us feel good, and triggers nurturing feelings and behaviours.
Giving birth can be a life changing event for parents, especially if this is a first baby. You may feel a roller coaster of emotions. Don't be surprised if you feel overwhelmed by the experience.
Don't forget that in order to meet your baby's needs as they grow and develop you need time to think about yourself. Take time to talk about your birth experience and how you are feeling. This could be with your partner, friends, family or health professionals.
If you have a day that is not going as you expected, try skin to skin contact with your baby. This stimulates the feel good hormones (Oxytocin) and may help your baby settle.
It is important to remember that not everyone feels the same. If you are struggling with your feelings or are worried that you are not bonding with your baby, please see below for who to talk to.
The most important thing you can do to help your baby develop a sense of security is respond to them when they need you.
Babies are born with very raw and powerful emotions. Babies are very social beings and develop emotionally through the relationships they have. A child's earliest relationships and experiences play an important part in their later development.
At first, a baby develops emotionally and physically from having all their needs met. A newborn baby struggles with any delay and needs a quick response. Security comes from not having to wait too long to be comforted, fed or held.
As your baby grows they will start to learn who their special people are and can be worried by new faces and situations. The way they are held, soothed and introduced to the world are very important in developing feelings of safety and security.
Babies are always learning and developing. Sometimes you will try things and sometimes you will get them wrong. This is a healthy, normal part of being a parent or carer and will support your baby to understand their feelings and how to manage them.
If you would like to learn more you can access the free online course ‘Understanding your baby’ provided by the Solihull Approach *Click Here*.
When babies sleep, how long they sleep for, being asked whether they 'sleep through the night' can be worrying and tiring. No two babies are alike and although it is tempting to take advice from friends and family about how to respond when your baby wakes in the night, it is important to consider your own instincts and feelings about what your baby needs.
Find ways to help your baby go to sleep which are comfortable for them and suitable to their stage of development. For more information about baby's sleep *click here*.
Babies don't only wake because they are hungry, they wake because they need you and you may not know why. This can feel difficult, especially when you are tired yourself. As you respond to your baby, they learn that you are there when they need you. By giving them this confidence, you help them to begin to settle themselves.
Remember, as your baby grows they will continue to need you to comfort them at night.
For more information about safe sleep *click here*.
Feeding a baby can be a worry as it doesn’t always feel as if its going to plan. To find out more about both breastfeeding and bottle feeding, as well as introducing solid foods at 6 months old, please *click here*.
The most important thing to remember, however you choose to feed your baby, is that it is an enjoyable interaction.
Finding out you are going to be a Dad can bring a lot of different feelings. You might feel excited and proud, as well as maybe worried about how this little person might affect your time, sleep or social life.
It can feel a big responsibility, especially if this is a first baby. Feeling a bit worried while waiting for the arrival of your baby is perfectly normal.
Your relationship with you baby can start before they are born.
- Spend time thinking about your baby and planning for their arrival.
- Talking to the baby bump will mean that once baby is born they will already know your voice and look to you for comfort.
The more time you spend caring for and reassuring your new baby, the stronger your bond will be. Things you can do together;
- Talk and smile to your baby, copying the sounds they make.
- Cuddle your baby, comforting them when they are upset.
- Read books to them. You can start this before your baby is born - they will tune in to your voice.
- Bath your baby.
- Take them for a walk giving you special time together.
Spending time with your small baby will help them learn that they can rely on you for fun, warmth and security.
Take a look at the books:
- Infant Massage by Vimala McCure
- Why Love Matters by Sue Gerhard
- Nobody Told Me by Holly McNish
Supporting a baby's emotional development is just as important as looking after their physical needs. Your baby will be communicating with you and you can support this by listening, watching and turn taking with them.
You could try:
- Repeating the noises they make
- Cuddling and making eye contact
- Copying the faces they make
- Sticking your tongue out and see if your baby copies.
Spending time holding, talking and playing with your baby plays a very important role in their emotional development. For babies, play is not just about toys, it’s about the shared, back-and-forth smiles and ‘chats’ they have with you. Loving and playful experiences like these help your baby learn.
As you get to know your baby, you’ll soon realise that there are times when they are very alert and active. Other times when they are quiet and watchful, and times when they are tired and irritable.
During the day your baby will have different levels of interest in what is going on, and need a different response from you. These are called ‘baby states’.
In quiet alert state your baby is awake, you will notice;
- Their face is bright-eyed and interested.
- Their attention is focused and they might be babbling happily.
- Their movements are calm and relaxed,
- Breathing is regular. Your baby responds and learns best in this state.
This an ideal time for you to interact with your baby, talk to them, sing songs, or maybe give them a baby massage.
This state often follows an alert state and may be a sign of too much going on,boredom or a need for a change of some kind.
Your baby might;
- have difficulty in paying attention or focusing
- Their body movements are more active.
- Be e breathing faster.
When you react to your baby’s cues and change things for them they might return to a calmer state.
Crying is one of the ways babies let you know that something is not quite right. They might;
- Be too cold or too hot, hungry, uncomfortable, feel pain
- Need to be close to you.
Babies cry to let us know that they need attention for something to stop or change. Offering your baby calm and nurturing comfort will let them know that you are there for them and that their needs will be met.
In this state your baby may be trying to settle back to sleep or may be trying to wake up. You might notice;
- Their eyes may be heavy lidded, dazed or closed with fluttering lids.
- Their body might be still or her movements slow and responses delayed.
Deep Sleep (Quiet Sleep)
In deep sleep you will notice your baby will;
- Breathe slowly, deeply and regularly.
- Be still and quiet.
- Not even wake up in a noisy environment..
It is important to try not to wake your baby when they are in deep sleep. They use this state for growth and development.
Light Sleep (Active Sleep)
In this state your baby’s brain is very active, busily storing and organising experiences and information.
- Their breathing is faster, more irregular or shallow.
- You might notice rapid eye movement under the lids (REM sleep).
- Your baby might even open their eyes, sigh and smile. Occasionally she might startle and have fleeting jerky movements.
These are the ways your baby communicates what they need from you and when. You will get to know what they are ‘saying by listening, watching and responding to them. It takes time to get to know each other. Stay near to your baby and tune in to what they are ‘telling’ you.
- Make every day routines fun, like singing song during bath time, add baby massage to the bedtime routine.
- Repeat the noises they make back to them.
The way you and your baby smile, ‘chat’ and take turns as you talk and play is important. Noticing the little signs, your baby gives, about what they need from you, builds a strong and trusting bond between you.
Watch your baby’s reactions, it will help you to understand what, and how much, of an activity your baby enjoys and how to recognise when they need a break.
When your baby is babbling or holding eye contact with you, they might stop and look away. This is their signal that they need a break. After a short break or a sleep they might turn back to you and be ready to play and chat again.
Don’t worry if you don’t always get it right first time. Learning about your baby’s individual needs, likes and dislikes takes time.
The early days spent with you are important for your baby. It is the beginning of them learning about communication and social skills and builds a strong bond with you.
Who Can Help?
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.
For 11–25 year olds Kooth is a free, confidential and safe way to receive online counselling, advice and emotional well-being support.
Childline - Children and young people under 19 can call 0800 1111 for free support.
Young Minds Parents Helpline - Call 0808 802 5544 for free Mon-Fri from 9.30am to 4pm.
To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.