What Mothers Know
From the moment a baby is born, a struggle begins. Mother does her
best to keep her
baby close to her, and the world does its best to separate mother from baby.
This is a mistake because mothers are the best teachers in the world
for their babies.
It starts with the well-meaning hospital staff who often whisk the
baby away to a
nursery far from mother. Later, there are the professionals who are
certain that a twoyear-old is better off in a day care center than
home with mother. On their heels comes
the school system where the child will spend the better part of his
life to age 18.
Educators now say they want the child at the age of five, four, or even three.
There are strong forces at work to separate mother from child, and
most people have
come to regard each of these encroachments on mother's domain as
normal. It is as if that
is the way it has always been.
But hospital nurseries, day care centers, and even compulsory
education are not the
way it has always been for mothers and babies. They are newfangled
notions, and a
radical departure from the age-old human tradition of children being
with their mothers
until they are ready, willing, and able to handle life on their own.
In contrast to these patterns of modern society, all mothers know
intuitively that the
first six years of a child's life are the most important.
In this they are absolutely correct.
Most mothers know that the first few months of life are vital to the
life-long wellbeing of their children.
Again they are correct in this belief.
Unfortunately the vast majority of mothers are not equipped with the
need to use these first few months to their child's best advantage,
and to make the first six
years of life as stimulating and rewarding as they could be—and should be.
New cars come with owner's manuals—new babies do not—and yet we all know that
babies are a great deal more important than cars. To be sure, there
are manuals for the feeding and changing of babies. There are books
about the general stages of development
that can be observed in average, healthy children.
But these aids are based on two main underlying assumptions. The
first is that baby's
needs are primarily physiological and emotional. The second is that
is triggered by the ringing of a series of genetically preset alarm
clocks that go off on
schedule regardless of what does or does not happen to him.
These assumptions are false.
It is perhaps because of these false assumptions that modern babies
are being raised
by accident instead of on purpose. That is a great shame because the growth and
development of the human child is much too important to be left to chance.
It is also because of these false assumptions that mothers have
persuaded, against their better judgment, to let their babies be cared
for by others.
A baby's natural, inborn human potential is enormous.
If it were true that babies simply need to be fed and changed and
cuddled a bit, and
nothing more, then society could safely put babies together like so
many little sheep with
one caretaker for many babies. This model was in fact established and
used by the
But babies are not little sheep. It is true that they have
physiological and emotional
needs, but beyond these they have enormous neurological needs as well. This
neurological need is the need of the brain for stimulation and opportunity.
When these neurological needs are fully met, the child's physical and
abilities are enhanced.
If, on the other hand, the baby's neurological needs are not met, and
if barriers that
may stop or slow brain growth and development are not noticed and
eliminated, the child
will not achieve that enormous natural human potential.
Every baby arrives equipped with a mother—there is good reason for that. Every
mother, whether she is new to the job or highly experienced, has a
marvelous ability and
opportunity to observe her baby, and then to act intuitively based on
On her worst day she will do this better with her own baby than most
others would do
on their best days. This helps to explain why mothers have always
been suspicious of the preset alarm
clock theory of development. They have seen their babies defy its
Mothers have been equally skeptical of the notion that human ability
by one's genetic make-up. From time immemorial, mothers and fathers
have helped their
children develop abilities that neither father nor mother nor
grandparents ever had.
Mothers have known more about babies than anyone else since the world began.
It is mothers who have successfully brought us from prehistoric caves
to the present.
However, the modern mother faces a very large problem: her own
She has the same powers of observation, the same intuition, the same
the same love for her baby that mothers have had throughout human
history. But she is
threatened by a world in which it is no longer safe to be a mother. In
this world she must
battle to keep her baby by her side from the instant he is born. In
this world she is often
told that her baby is better off in a nursery than in her arms.
It is a world in which it is no longer considered fashionable or
useful to be a mother.
Mothers know that there is something very wrong with a society that no longer
respects mothers and has little time or interest in the development of
its youngest and
most vulnerable members.
When a new mother does win that first battle, and finally gets her
hands on her own
newborn baby with everyone else out of the room, she does what all
mothers have always
done. She starts counting: ten fingers, ten toes, two ears, one mouth.
She begins an inventory to evaluate her own baby. She makes certain
that he has
arrived with everything he should have and that he is functioning as
he should function.
Since she knows how to count she does not need any help with her
But once that is completed, she is on her own. She looks into the eyes
of her baby and to
her utter astonishment and amazement she sees an intelligence for
which no one has
Father sees it too. For a moment they are stunned. They are overwhelmed by the
potential they sense in the baby, and by the responsibility they have
make a thousand unspoken promises to their new baby. They will more
than likely keep the majority of those promises. Sadly, the most
important promise, the one about helping the baby to become the best
he can be, may
elude them, simply because mother and father do not know how to help
bring this about.
They have been told about how to provide for the physical growth and
health of the
baby, and something about his emotional needs, but the world has
little awareness and
hardly any respect for the real potential of the baby.
"Feed 'em and love 'em," a better-than-average doctor may have told them, but
probably no one told them about helping the baby learn. They have been
told that there is
plenty of time to think about that when the child goes to school. Some
have even told
them they are damaging the baby if they help him to learn too soon,
before the baby is
The truth is that such delay wastes his six most important years.
Sadly, many mothers
and fathers have been intimidated by the world around them. Our goal
is to help parents
provide for the growth and development of their babies in the fullest
sense. Parents need
to know what is important and what is not important.
Armed with this knowledge, mother and father can combine it with their unique
knowledge of their baby to create an environment that addresses both
the baby's basic
survival needs and the needs of his developing brain.
This book is the story of how to give a baby a running start at
achieving his full
potential. Its aim is to help parents understand the process of brain
development in the newborn baby, so that parents are able to create an
enhances and enriches that growth and development.
From How Smart Is Your Baby?
Copyright © 2006 by Janet Doman