Babies do get stressed out!
Our little ones are always looking to their caregivers as role models for how to interact with the world. They pick up on our non-verbal cues faster and stronger than any Bounty Paper Wipe (quicker picker-upper-lame joke?) Imagine if you were to one day be sent to some foreign country. You would try to learn how the locals do things in order to fit in and get by. Maybe more consciously in that scenario than in this one with regards to babies and their parents- but still true.
As parents, we have A LOT going on. Work-life balance is stressful as well as keeping up with the day to day routines. If on top of that you add a not-so-happy, or worse, abusive relationship, unstable home environment, post-partum depression, or other mental health concerns, it can become quite difficult to manage a regular day. Thinking that you can pretend like everything is fine is a nice attempt to shield your baby, toddler, or child from some of life’s problems, but it oftentimes doesn’t work as successfully as you would like.
Babies are aware of stress since their first few months of life. Though they may not speak, they read cues from their caregivers to learn the ways of the world. If their caregiver is often curt, snippety, harsh, or not very nurturing or careful when handling the infant, they feel it and understand that the world can be harsh and cold. This affects how they view their self-importance. If treated with verbal, emotional, or physical abuse, the baby will learn that he or she is not worthy of love and care. If there is a constant stress in the household, such as constant screaming, crying, or physical aggression, the baby’s cortisol level rises in response to stress-inducing experiences. This is detrimental to their cognitive and emotional development and will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Check out my article on how stress can negatively affect your baby and what you can do to improve your family’s lifestyle.