Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The Infant's Guide to Parental Development
Congratulations, and Welcome to the World! As the proud owner of a bran-new set of parents, you probably have a lot of questions. One of the most pressing questions you have probably centers on the topic of parental development -- and well it should. After all, you carry a lot of responsibility on your tiny shoulders. Without you, the two adults you have wrapped around your itty bitty finger just won't mature into functional, well-balanced parents.
The AAP (American Academy of Parentology) makes it clear that parents develop at different rates, so don't worry if your parents seem a little behind compared to your friends' parents. Here is a list of basic developments that you can expect to see take place within the first few months of your life, and how you can help your parents achieve these goals.
1. Dark Circles Under the Eyes
These dark circles are one of the first important developments for parents. A sure sign of sleepless nights, dark circles guarantee that your parents on the right track. You can expect to see them within a week of your birth, though some parents might develop them a little sooner if your entrance into the world was particularly difficult or prolonged. If you haven't noticed any discoloration in the eye area (or bags under the eyes at the very least) by four or five weeks, you are probably not crying enough in the middle of the night. You can try setting your internal alarm to one-hour intervals through the night for several days, and see if your parents' condition improves.
2. Rocking and Bouncing
Every experienced parent (especially the female variety) will be quite familiar with the "Rocking and Bouncing" technique within several weeks. This is a valuable skill for them to learn, especially since you will find it quite soothing when you're fussy. Some parents catch on to this skill very quickly, and will even sway gently when someone else is holding you. If you see this, congratulate yourself -- your parents are developing nicely!
3. Weight Loss
New parents are notorious for putting on or just keeping baby weight (both moms and dads), so you can help out in this vital health-related area. Make sure you keep your parents' food intake down by frequently interrupting their meals. In order to do this, note when they sit down to eat and start screaming vigorously as soon as the first forkful makes its way into their mouths. In fact, you may need to cry during meal prep, too, just to make sure that they don't try to put you down for a nap in another room (in which case it's harder -- but not impossible -- to tell when they've started eating). A constant diet of cold food will likely curb your parents' appetites, thereby helping their BMI considerably.
4. Muscle Development
For your parents to experience optimal health, they need to work out. However, most parents with a new baby in the house don't have time to hit the gym. Good news -- you can help! Two important muscular areas that need to develop are legs and arms. To work out the legs, wait until your parents have just seated themselves before making distinct hunger signs. They will stand up again and come over to you, at which point you can cease your hunger signals. As soon as they sit down, repeat the procedure. You should do at least ten reps every few hours. The repetitive rising and sitting will be great for their thighs. As for arms, when they've just put you down somewhere you should start crying inconsolably. As soon as they pick you up, cry for a few moments before calming down. When they set you back down (this works best when they have something they really need to do), wait a few seconds and start crying again. Again, ten reps every few hours should do the trick for those biceps. Careful attention to your parents' muscular condition will pay off as you gain weight.
5. Rapid Reflexes
This skill is critical in any parent. By the third week of your life, your parents should be able to catch you (and potentially another falling object...or two) within milliseconds. Some parents are slow to catch on with this one, but you can quickly bring them up to par by throwing yourself backwards while they're holding you. Before trying this training method, though, you should take your parents' cardiac condition into account -- many parents' hearts will race if you throw yourself backwards, so doing it too often may end up in a visit to the emergency room.
6. Singing Off-Key
Parents will often take up singing in order to calm you down when you're stressed. While this singing is usually out of tune, squeaky, and totally pointless (as far as you're concerned), it is very important that parents learn this for their own benefit. Not only does it teach them to self-calm when you're screaming, but it also gives them a sense of achievement when you stop crying (not because you like the singing, of course, but because you're just done). If your parents don't pick up this skill naturally, see if you can get a friend or relative to sing to you -- if you stop crying, act enthralled, and smile, your parents will be more likely give it a try themselves.
7. Oblivion to Odor
This is a tough one for parents, and some parents may never develop in this area. You can gauge your parents' progress in this area by evaluating their behavior during diaper changes. Gagging, comments on smell, and facial distortions are signs that they have not yet learned to deal with odors. You can try to build their tolerance by upping the number of dirty diapers you produce, but don't be too concerned if progress is slow.
8. Functioning With Very Little Sleep
All parents must learn how to function on about half the sleep that a normal adult enjoys. This is one area of parental development that you must be vigilant about! If your parents are still acting groggy by the third or fourth week, it's time for you to step in and take some serious action. One of the best ways to do this is to wait until they've just gotten into bed and turned out the light. As soon as you sense that this has occurred, work up a scream that demands attention in no uncertain terms. This will bring them running, and the ensuing hour(s) they spend trying to calm you down will help them get used to their new (and permanent) sleep-deprived state.
9. Facial Mobility
Let's discuss another important developmental area: facial mobility. Once your parents see even the hint of a smile, they will respond! They will distort their faces into all kinds of unlikely expressions in order to coax a smile out of you. But don't make it too easy on them -- if you smile at their slightest expression, you risk stunting their growth. Their facial muscles need a full workout, so hold out on big smiles and laughter until they've really run the gamut of expression. This will also be quite amusing for you as you watch their ridiculous attempts -- but again, remember to hold back signs of amusement for a little while.
10. Babbling and cooing
It is essential that you help your parents develop their babbling and cooing skills as soon as possible, usually around 2-3 months. This is not a difficult task, since parents will readily imitate your behavior. If you show them by example how to make sounds like "goop," "erkuh," and "squee," there is a 99% chance that they will pick up this skill without any further difficulty. You can gauge their progress by the sounds they repeat back to you. If your parents are a bit slow in this regard, try upping the amount of sounds you make, and stick to basic sounds until they've got the hang of it.
With these simple steps, you can ensure that your parents reach their optimum potential! The investment you make now will pay off in the future. While each parent develops differently, this list will provide you with some basic skills to look for in those early weeks.