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14.57 28 Feb 2021


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On this week's 'Parenting' segment on the Moncrieff show, one listener sought advice on how to make sure her newborn daughter doesn't "make strange" with others after a year of only interacting with her parents.

Joanna Fortune, a psychotherapist specialising in child and adult psychotherapy, offered some guidance.

'My baby was born during lockdown...how do I stop her making strange with others?'

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Listener question

I gave birth last February and soon after my child was born, we went into lockdown. It didn't bother me as we were going nowhere with a newborn anyway.

However, my daughter is one now and I'm worried about how she'll be around others. She really stares at people she doesn't know and I can feel her cling to me tighter when we're in the park.

She hasn't spent any meaningful time with her grandparents or her aunties and uncles, how do I help her not make strange and be open to other people? She's only really known her dad and I all this time.

Joanna Fortune's advice

"You're not alone with this, but just to start off, she's only really known her dad and you, you're enough for her. At this stage, she's one year old and you are absolutely enough for your baby. She is developing her social and emotional development through you.

"Don't be worried that she's not getting enough social engagement, her important hub of social engagement is exactly you guys, her parents.

"Being a lockdown baby is certainly a different experience to when you classically have a baby and there are some pros to it. you've had a lot of lovely alone time with your baby and a time without tonnes of visitors when you can really connect with her.

"But being a lockdown parent is also a very different experience. While there are pros there are equally challenges involved in that because you don't have access to the broader network of people who tend to gather around you when you have a baby.

"So it is a different experience and while you are enough for your baby, we also have to be aware that our babies or young children take their social and emotional cues from us, so just check in on your own stress levels, the impact that lockdown has had on you and your parenting self and how you wish it could have been different, perhaps.

File photo. Credit: Darren Greenwood/Design Pics via ZUMA Wire

"When you are out with your baby, and you say when you're in the park she clings tighter to you, just to say some of that is very normal for a child because they're checking with you, 'Is this OK'.

"And that's why I emphasise, check with yourself, do you feel it's OK, do you get nervous or edgy when people are a little bit close or there's a bigger crowd there than you thought there might be. But it's normal for our children to check in with us.

"When you're out, say hello and wave at everyone you pass, even if they don't answer you back, just so that she sees you saying 'hello person, hello person' and you keep going.

"Point out and talk to other people, talk to her about it, 'Do you see the lady, do you see the dog, do you see the trees and the leaves moving', just keep talking and pointing these features out to her so you're creating a normalisation of a world outside of yourselves.

"I think if you playfully keep that up, that you will see a difference."

Main image: File photo. Credit: Daniel Sicolo/Design Pics via ZUMA Wire

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