Is there a human experience more profound and wonderful than parenting? I think not. It is profound because we discover a force within us that can actually shape another's life. It is wonderful because God invites us as parents to witness and to participate in the development of one of his children.
No other species has a childhood dependency that lasts as long as the human one. So, participating in your child's development will be time-consuming and comples and important. Given your newborn's dependence upon you, isn't it astonishing what he or she will achieve as an adult? God has blessed you with the honor of helping him accomplish his purposes. What a privileged position for you to be in!
As you begin your parenting journey, you should be armed with the latest information from developmental science as it relates to your baby. Science has uncovered much interesting information about normal child development, particularly in the past twenty-five years. While at times it may seem that much of your baby's development will simply unfold as a natural biological process, nature does not explain it all. Your baby's environment, what she or he sees, hears, touches -- particularly you, as your child's primary care giver -- will play a prominent role in all areas of your baby's development.
As I peer through the window of the hospital nursery, I wonder: how does it feel to be floating in the liquid warmth and safety of Mother's womb and then to suddenly be pushed and pulled out into a cold, new place? It must be a most unpleasant experience, I think, as I watch the crying and distressed facial expressions (the newborn's, not the mother's) in the delivery room.
Fortunately, babies adapt quickly to their new place in the world. This rapid adaptation is but a continuation of the development that began some nine months ago. Now, as your baby adjusts to life outside the womb, feeding and breathing are his most essential activities.
"For you created my inmost being you knit me together in my mother's womb." --Psalm 139:13
My child, you are a most magnificent creation--a reflection of the artistic God who fashioned you out of the basic material that your mommy and I contributed.
In your infancy, you possess infinite potential, for your past is short but your future stretches out before you.
Not only has God fashioned you to learn and to grow, God placed in you the capacity to worship, to pray, to know him, and to experience abundant life.
You may find some comfort in knowing that even though your newborn has unpredictable timing in sleeping, waking, and eating, this erratic behavior will gradually diminish. Soon your newborn will have longer sleeping patterns and longer intervals between feedings. These changes coincide with the rapid physical growth that is occurring.
You might be surpirsed at your baby's disproportionately large head. A newborn's head is about a quarter of her total body size. Her arms and legs, although fully developed, are small with respect to her head. In time, her legs, feet, toes, hands, and fingers will catch up. In other words, your newborn will have a fairly well-developed head and fully functioning internal organs before she acquires much dexterity and muscle strength.
Frelfexes are unlearned behaviors such as the knee jerk relfex when your kneecap is tapped in just the right spot. Sucking and rooting are two very important reflexes that your newborn brings with him into the world. These reflexes make it possible for your baby to latch onto a nipple, to nurse, to survive!
Research shows that babies also have a need for non-nutritive sucking. Pacifiers can help satisfy your baby's sucking needs. If you are concerned that your baby will become too dependent on a pacifier, you can gradually aim at using it only during naptime. This strategy can make it easier for your baby to eventually stop using it altogether.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control." -- Galations 5:22
Though you are tiny, you have so many natural abilities. You suck when you are hungry, cry when uncomfortable, and coo when tickled.
Whatching you respond convinces me that you were born with spiritual reflexes as well. In the future, your discomfort will lead to prayer, and pleasure will cause you to worship. When you see a hurting friend, you will reach out with tender compassion, and when you witness injustice, your spirit will naturally recoil in anger.
God created you with these wonderful spiritual reflexes so that you can respond to every circumstance with heavenly grace.