Perhaps it's because they are so small, perhaps it's because they don't say much, babies especially those with older siblings can be constantly on the move or rushed or shushed. I'm a busy parent, I live in the real world but I could do with a reminder. Perhaps you could do with a reminder too. From some of my Montessori readings, here a few ways we can respect the baby. We can respect:
- Individual developmental needs - don't rush, push or force. Observe and follow the child's lead, provide an environment that is developmentally appropriate.
- Need for sleep, rest and play (active time) - strive for rhythm not forcing a schedule or routine, learn to read and follow cues.
- Need for comfort, warmth and, security - respond to cues when given (no CIO), be attentive, allow the child to build trust in their environment and in those around them.
- Need for movement - provide time for free movement don't over-use devices that restrict movement and totally avoid those without purpose or need (like jumpers or similar baby walkers), provide a safe comfortable and warm movement area, provide clothing that doesn't restrict movement.
- Need for concentration - try not to break the child's concentration, provide an environment generally free from artificial distractions like television, provide uninterrupted free time.
- Need for gentle and considered tone and touch - we may be rushing, picking older children up from school or in the line at the supermarket, as much as possible use a well-considered tone and touch to the baby. Voice and touch are important ways we communicate with the child, voice (especially that of the mother's) can be particularly soothing to the very young child.
- Need for a strong ego, need for trust and a positive relationship with the environment - allow the child to be a participant and a collaborator with care activities such as washing, changing and dressing - ask for permission and wait for a response, inform the baby what is going on, what is going to happen next, do things "with the child", not "to the child".
- Need for integration and personalization (the child being in touch with body and mind) - this can be particularly relevant to feeding, respect the child's need to self-feed, even on the breast allow them to detach when fully satisfied (when/if possible), don't overfeed or force feed (unless medically advised), follow the child's cues. Try not to placate the infant with food or pacifiers - I find in reality there are some genuine exceptions especially in stressful circumstances but we can acknowledge this is not ideal.
It's important to remember that you, the parent or caregiver have needs too! I hope you find this reminder useful.