“Peace begins on the changing table.” Ute StrubI have always loved that quote by Ute Strub Waldorf educator and child development expert.
As a natural parent the main thing I want for my baby is peace. But peace is not something you can teach a child, it is a feeling that it must get from it’s caretakers and from it’s environment. Every thing we do with a newborn can make or break that sense of peace and calmness.
In Waldorf-thinking, children come from the spirit world, where they have been cared for peacefully for by loving, gentle hands. They are tiny gifts from heaven and it is our job to continue that loving environment for them.
With this in mind, shouldn’t everything we do with our new baby be given the utmost thought? It can be very difficult in this fast paced, technology world to slow ourselves down and focus on one single task, giving it our 100% undivided attention, but our child is worth that attention.
Babies have four basic bodily senses; life, touch, movement and balance. We need to be aware of the senses as we prepare to care and nurture our baby. During feeding, bathing, and changing times speak calmly and quietly to your baby, using slow and considerate movement. Be aware of what you are doing and saying and give your baby the complete attention he needs to feel safe and secure.
So how do we begin this “changing table peace”? Establishing a rhythm to what you do each day creates security and peace for a baby. So lets begin with a bathing ritual.
Contrary to popular belief, babies don’t need daily bathing. They just don’t get that dirty and water and soap can be drying and irritating to baby’s skin. I start my bath ritual after the umbilical cord has fallen off and healed about every other day. Before that it is sponge baths on my lap, and Indian baby massage
For me personally I always end my day with a nice relaxing bath, so this is the time I feel is best for my babies. I think it is a wonderful relaxing way to end the day. It also helps to signal the brain to begin winding down and preparing for sleep. I can remember Zippy, who has severe ADHD, at 2 years floating in the warm tub totally relaxing, letting the cares of the world drain away. She actually couldn’t sleep without her night time bath. (my mother, Mimi and I are the same way!)
So, I have my bath ritual in the evening about an hour before the baby’s bedtime. It is important to begin preparing carefully for the experience before even touching the baby. Prepare yourself inwardly to give the baby your undivided attention. In an unhurried, loving and peaceful mindset, gather the things that you will need and preparing the bathing water,
Here is my ritual;
• First you need to select a bathing area. I like the kitchen sink personally, but in Thailand we do not have hot water in the kitchen, but we are fortunate to have a bathtub, so for Pickles it will be the tub. Where ever you choose, the room should be warm and draft-free and the lights should be low. Candles are nice if you like. I enjoy lavender candles in the bathroom, as it helps relax you.
• Turn off the phone so that you will not be tempted to leave baby unattended "just for a moment."
• Prepare “bath kit”. You will need:
- Two wash cloths
- A mild soap( In Thailand I suggest Sabu Sabu Natural Body Care)
- Cotton balls
- A hooded towel
- Massage Oil ( I use virgin coconut oil)
- Clean clothes/ PJ’s
How I would LOVE to live in America so I could try these!
Wild Roots on Etsy!
When the bath is ready it is time to gather the baby. Announce yourself as you enter the room. Before you touch the baby speak in a tender, soft voice. As you gently lift the baby, tell her what you are doing, what is going to happen and what is going on around them.
I am not a baby tub fan. For myself I want to be in the tub with the baby. So for us, I believe what will work best is for mommy (or daddy) to be in the tub and for Daddy to gather the baby and gently pass her off to mommy.
Babies are often uncomfortable at the beginning of these rituals. They want their warm, secure feeling back. So, they often cry the first couple times. (The Grown-Ups never cried they all LOVED baths) If we handle them peacefully from the beginning they will begin to recognize the safety and joy and learn to rust us more and more. Soon, those cries should turn to happy gurgles.
After the bath, wrap the baby in a soft warm blanket and snuggle them close. (This will be our pass back to daddy) I like the idea of putting them in the sling for a few minutes to help them return to their safe “cocoon world” . Remember to continue talking to the baby quietly telling them what you are doing.
At the changing station, lovingly and thoughtfully apply oil to the baby’s skin, in a slow, gentle massage. I read somewhere an article comparing rubbing your baby with oil to the anointing with oil in the Biblical times. (still practiced in India and other parts of the world) This was a sacred ritual to show the love and gratitude of the practitioner to the recipient. (used all my big words in that one!)
Swaddle the baby or put them in their sleeping clothes and then take a few minutes to play quietly or sing to her. This will probably be our pass back to mommy time, so that baby can be nursed and lulled off to sleep.
Here is our Changing Station. No, it's not very Montessori (It should be on the floor) but, we have this beautiful cribs that friends brought from America that I wanted to use. And if you didn't know, I have MS so I don't trust myself standing up from the ground with the baby. I think this is a great solution. The crib isn't just sitting there empty and I don't have to worry about dropping Pickles on her little head!
These baskets hold the cute little cloth diapers I have made (20 small, 20 med , plus 4 NB and 3 larger ones) and the diaper liners. We have a bit of a problem with little tiny mice (and bunnies)right now, I just keep making them! The big pink pig is definitely NOT Montessori. That's Stick Pig, and he is the hero of the children s books I have been writing... so he gets to stay!
One final Thought....
Dr. Henning Kohler, A Steiner professional,teaches his patients that infants have a need for nourishing and warming acts of bodily care. He says : ”These acts must be done with a true inner participation.”
If we dedicate ourselves to these acts with an unhurried, patient foresight and a personal inner quiet, we are helping our baby become at home with their body and to fell trust and joy in the world and with the people around her.
And that’s all I got to say about that! =)