12 Great Tips for Moms with Newborn Babies

What makes children happy may surprise you. Experts in the development of children who study the subject say that happiness is not something you give children, but something that you teach them.

Edward Hallowell, psychiatrist and author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness, says that too happy children, who wash toys or are protected from emotional stress, are more likely to be bored, cynical and joyless adolescents.

"The best predictors of happiness are internal, not external," says Hallowell, who emphasizes the importance of helping children develop a series of internal tools that they can count on throughout their lives.

The good news is that you don't have to be an expert in child psychology to give the inner strength and wisdom to withstand the ups and downs of life. With patience and flexibility, every parent can lay the foundation for a life of happiness.

Learn to read the emotions of your child
When your baby grows from a newborn baby to a more interactive baby at the age of 6, he becomes a teacher to show you when something makes him happy or angry. His face lights up with a heartbreaking smile when you enter the room, or complains when someone takes away his favorite toy. And you've probably noticed that the smile starts to cry faster than you can put a pacifier in your mouth.

According to Lise Eliot, child neuroscientist and author of what happens there? While the brain and mind develop during the first five years of life, a child is so merciful in their emotions because their cortex, which controls automatic responses, is hardly activated. With the development of the cerebral cortex in the coming years, the child will be able to better control his behavior and mood.

If your baby seems to spend more time crying than laughing, it is because the children feel anxious rather than happy. The facial expressions of tears and fear are not for nothing, says Eliot. They serve as an SOS to motivate the caregiver to fix something that is wrong.

But when your baby cries, how do you know if you are sick, hungry or just bored? "A sensitive mother can hear different types of screams and facial expressions," says Paul C. Holinger, professor of psychiatry at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago. "The eyebrows, the mouth and the vocalisations are all signaling systems for the child."

For example, a child in physical difficulties will cry with the corners of his mouth facing down and his eyebrows bent at the center. Angry her little girl's face turns red, her eyebrows fall, her jaw closes and she roars.

Most parents acknowledge that a frightened and easily annoying child is not a happy camper, but Holinger believes that many parents do not recognize that anger is simply excessive discomfort. "If there is a loud sound or intense light," he says, "the child will show signs of distress. If that sound or light continues to increase, the feeling becomes angry."

Carrie Masia-Warner, child psychologist and associate director of the Institute of Anxiety and Mood Disorders at the New York University School of Medicine, warns that she should not read too much about her child's mood. "I wouldn't call children happy or unhappy," he says. "They are restricted or not based on anything in their immediate environment."

Although young children do not really feel happy when they seem happy, the good news is that they are not emotionally aware when they cry. Eliot explains that the "cortical emotion centers" in her baby's brain only start working when she is between 6 and 8 months old, when she starts to feel emotions that look so vivid on her face.

Your baby probably has ways to show you when he's not happy. Some babies cry while others become sticky. Knowing your child's temperament will help you learn the signs that something is wrong with your world.

Have fun with your baby
Even if a colorful mobile crib and its first taste of apple sauce can make your child smile, what makes you happier is much easier: you. And that is the first key to creating a happy baby, Hallowell says.

"Connect with your baby, play with it," he advises. "If you are having fun with your little girl, she is having fun. If you believe in what I call" a connected childhood, "this is by far the best step to make sure your daughter is happy."

Playing creates joy, but it is also how your child develops essential skills for future happiness. As you get older, the game lets you discover what you enjoy doing: building villages with blocks, making "drinks" with cooking ingredients, painting elaborate watercolors that can all point you to interests that you have for life.

Help your child master new skills
Hallowell's recipe for creating lifelong happiness involves a surprising turn: happy people are often the ones who have learned a skill. For example, when your child discovers how to put the spoon in his mouth or take the first steps for himself, he learns from his mistakes, learns perseverance and discipline, and then feels the joy of succeeding through his efforts. .

It also collects the reward of recognizing others for their success. The most important thing is to discover that you have some control over your life: if you try, you can do it. Hallowell says that this sense of dominance control is an important factor in determining the happiness of adults.

Hallowell warns that children, like adults, must follow their own interests, otherwise there will be no joy in their success.

Develop your baby's healthy habits.
A lot of sleep, exercise and healthy eating are important for the well-being of everyone, especially for children. Give your child enough space to release his energy, whether it kicks into the air, crawls to a beloved ball or goes back and forth, over and over again, on the swing of the children in the park, will help to get inside. . Good humor And pay attention to your baby's need for structure: even when some babies are very calm, they develop and feel more stable with a certain schedule.

You can also watch out for any connection between your child's mood and especially food. Some parents think that although sugar can boost their children's energy, it can also cause irritation.

Food allergies and sensitivities can also play a role in a child's behavior and mood. If she is breastfeeding, the baby may become restless after eating certain foods. Talk to your child's doctor if you suspect the child's formula or diet is related to signs of suffering.

Let your baby solve it
In the first six months of a baby's life, it is important that the parents meet the baby's needs. "You cannot spoil a child," says Masia-Warner. But after about six months, if you experience a slight hiccup, you have an important learning opportunity. Masia-Warner says it's good to let the kids cry a little, as long as you give them lots of love and positive attention the rest of the time.

But, you say, I should create a happy baby! Don't you have to go down and improve everything? Masia-Warner sees this as a major mistake made by many loving and well-meaning parents.

"Parents always try to improve their children to make them happy. It's not realistic. Don't always jump and try to fix it," says Masia-Warner. "Children need to learn to tolerate a little fear, a little accident. Let them fight, solve things themselves, because this allows them to learn how to cope."

In the first year of your baby you learn a lot: sitting, crawling, grabbing objects, walking and talking. Every result gives you confidence and satisfaction in your results. So don't rush to pick up the rattle you've just dropped or the hard-to-reach teddy bear: give him time and encouragement to pick it up yourself.

Be a role model for your baby
Dora Wang, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and mother of Zoé, 3, says research shows that she can pass on her character to her son, not necessarily through his genes, but through your upbringing and style.

Children feel better or worse in the mood of their parents. Even young children imitate the emotional style of their parents, which activates specific neural pathways in the brain.

In other words, when you smile, your child laughs and their brains 'connect' with smiles. Likewise, if you have a colic baby who cries for hours, it is best to stay calm, as children collect stress from their caregivers.

With a newborn baby it is normal to feel tired, overwhelmed and even a little sad. But if you are constantly stressed or depressed, it is important to seek help.

More information about depression and postpartum anxiety.

Do you worry if your child is happy? Complete our survey and tell us.

What do you do if your child is depressed? We ask the parents of BabyCenter, who have shared their favorite and proven advice, to keep the blues away and make the children smile. Read the seven tips to encourage your child.