Fall River Herald News
February 20, 2008
By Jeff Wagner
Special to Parents and Kids
Many people believe that when a child is born, there is a magical feeling that takes place between a child and the parents.
And sometimes that bond could provide momentum toward the child’s intellectual, spiritual and emotional development, according to author Amy Hatkoff.
Author of “You Are My World: How a Parent’s Love Shapes a Baby’s Mind,” Hatkoff says all the little moments between parents and their child make an extraordinary difference in a child’s development.
“It is interesting that the connection between parents and babies is key in brain development,” said Hatkoff, who has written another book about how to help children and has worked several years with parents and their children.
Hatkoff said the touches between parents and their children and simple things such as smiles have a tangible effect on a child’s self-esteem and intellectual development.
She said touching alone stimulates brain development.
“It is very important to read to babies but it is profoundly important to read your baby — to read your baby’s cues,” she said. “The more a baby feels understood and responded to — the baby can understand themselves and life — through just the simple act of being seen and heard.”
Hatkoff said there is scientific proof that an early bond is so important. She said the “love” hormone oxytocin is released when a mother nurtures a baby, which fosters a sense of love between both the parent and the baby. She said fathers also play a significant role during this period.
“Dads are critical to babies and they have shown that mothers and fathers love babies differently and the father’s love teach babies different things, and the baby needs both,” she said.
Ross Ellis, founder and chief executive officer of the national, nonprofit Love Our Children USA, agrees that the bond between parents and their newborn is special.
Describing it as “magical,” she said, “When parents are planning to have a baby, it goes from excitement, to fear, to ‘Am I going to be a good parent.’”
But when the child is born, she says, “You look at that little face and you immediately fall in love. It’s a magical moment.”
Ellis said she spoke with a mother last summer who claimed she could never love someone more than her husband. However, the woman soon changed her mind when she looked into the eyes of her firstborn child.
Ellis said that bond is not exclusive to parents and their firstborn.
She said when the second child comes, the emotions that parents feel return. “It is still a different child, a different baby, and no two babies are alike,” she said. “It may not be the same magical moment but it will be a magical moment.”
Ellis said her group cautions parents about the period that follows when the magical moments fade and parents have to deal with sleepless nights, a child with colic and other issues.
She said parents should remember that they should not hesitate to turn to someone when they become stressed.
“I hate to copy a phrase but it does take a village. People really need to do that. Parenting is the hardest job — I don’t think there is a harder job. A very famous celebrity said to me when kids act up they are just doing their job,” Ellis said.