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Your Baby's Emotional Love Cup
Sometimes the only way we can explain something supremely intangible is with a metaphor. And when it comes to the warm, goo-goo-eyed feelings we share with our little ones, love cup is just the perfect descriptor.
Think of your baby’s 'love cup' as a way to refer to their positive emotions. When your baby’s cup is full, they are content, cuddly and cheerful. When it’s running low, however, your bub may have a hard time moderating their feelings – and acting out is the flavour of the day. So how do you ‘feed’ their love cup to ensure their emotional intelligence gets off to a good start?
Everyone has a love cup – even adults
You may not have ever referred to your emotional wellbeing as a love cup, but we all have one. And we all know how it feels when that cup is empty: we’re irritable, we’re easily upset, we lash out without provocation and our mental state deteriorates over time. Unlike babies, though, we adults have the ability to control how we react to external stimulus – it’s called emotional intelligence.
Just as you’re guiding your bub towards all those notable physical milestones – rolling over, crawling, sitting up, speaking, standing and eventually walking – parents should also be thinking about how they can support bub’s emotional development. After all, a full love cup can help your baby become emotionally well-adjusted, better behaved and sufficiently equipped to adapt to the complexities of the outside world as they grow up.
Pam Leo, author of Connection Parenting, sums it up perfectly: “Either we spend time meeting children’s emotional need by filling their cup with love, or we spend time dealing with the behaviours caused by their unmet needs. Either way, we spend time.”
How can I fill my baby’s love cup?
First, you need to focus on your love cup. If you’re not happy and healthy when connecting with your child, how can you fill their love cup with all the cheerful and positive emotions they crave?
There’s no denying it’s a struggle to find the right balance between raising a baby and managing everything else in your life. And many times it feels like sheer chaos! Some days just feel like: a million nappy changes, late-night feeds, pumping milk when you return to work (we recommend the Pigeon GoMini to make life a little less stressful), washing dirty laundry when bub goes down for a nap, cooking for the rest of the family – the list goes on and, left unchecked, we can start to develop negative emotional feelings with the routine and even resentment.
That’s why no matter how crazy life becomes, carving out some ‘me time’ is paramount. Then you can focus on one-on-one quality time to enjoy with your little one.
Top tips to fill your love cups and strengthen your bond
- Physical contact and snuggling
- Stimulate their mind (play peek-a-boo or with toys)
- Maintain eye contact and pull funny faces
- Read together every day – preferably more than once.
- Have a conversation – even if it’s all nonsensical sounds!
- Go for a walk together and talk about what you see around your neighbourhood and at the park.
- Share a bath together before bub’s bedtime then let someone else put baby to sleep while you enjoy some much-deserved relaxation time.
Small moments for us are big moments for babies
You really cannot overstate how vital these small moments of intimacy with your baby are. They make bub feel loved, safe, seen and appreciated. And a baby who feels loved is more settled. And a baby that’s settled is also likely to sleep better - now that’s something that should fill every parent’s love cup!
Bubs long for physical contact, and they will look to you for guidance and unconsciously mirror your actions and emotional responses. Based on this, they can develop high or low self-worth. So don’t discount how much a little snuggle time can top up baby’s love cup and set them on the path to an emotionally intelligent childhood.