The Science of Parenting

Infant Inclinations | S.7 Ep.2

October 14, 2021 Season 7 Episode 2
The Science of Parenting
Infant Inclinations | S.7 Ep.2
Show Notes Transcript

An infant’s temperament has an impact on early behaviors such as sleep, stranger anxiety, and overall general mood. Parents can learn their child’s temperament and create environments that play to their child’s natural tendencies instead of fighting against them.

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Mackenzie Johnson:

Welcome to The Science of Parenting podcast where we connect you with research based information that fits your family. We'll talk about the realities of being a parent and how research can help guide our parents decisions. I'm Mackenzie Johnson, parent of two littles with their own quirks. And I'm a parenting educator.

Lori Korthals:

And I'm Lori Korthals. And I am a parent of three in two different life stages. Two are launched, one is still in high school, and I am also a parent educator. And today we're going to continue season seven talking about temperament.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And also we are giggling because our producer Mackenzie DeJong is messing with us. She was like goofing around with us. So okay, my apologies. I'm gonna focus. I'm not distractible. No, that's not a trait that I have.

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely not. No.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, yeah, this season we do, we're going to look at kind of pushing together a couple of our other seasons. Right?

Lori Korthals:

Exactly. So we're gonna take season three which was on temperament, season five which was the ages and stages that children develop in. And all season long we're gonna talk about a specific age, layer on some temperament, and see what kind of tips and tricks and techniques we can share with you. And today, we are going to kick it off by talking about infants.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Bebes! I literally had people come up to me, if that voice does not sound familiar to you when you're talking about babies, I don't know, but it's just like the bebes. But we're happy to have people chat with us about any of it. Yes. But babies today, and we're gonna be looking at one specific question around babies. Right?

Lori Korthals:

We are. Yes. What is my baby telling me? Yes. $10 million dollar question, right. Oh, what are they telling me?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. But the temperament does give us insight into understanding that. Crying is one form of communication, but we're going to talk about that there's lots of other forms that are happening, that temperament influences.

Lori Korthals:

Yes, so many forms. Yes.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And before we do that, we got to talk for just a second, a little reminder. As every parenting textbook ever has mentioned, parenting is a bi-directional process. We influence our kids, but our kids influence us and the way that we parent, right, which is why one child might pull this certain thing out of us, while another one seems to pull this certain other thing out of us. Exactly. Well, but this idea that our kids' characteristics, like their temperament, like their birth order, like their gender identity, like their health status, all this other stuff, that that's going to influence how we parent. What kind of child rearing we do, how we behave, how we interact, how we communicate. And so we know that it's not just about who I am as a parent that influences my parenting, but also who my kid is, that's going to influence my parenting. So temperament is a huge part of that.

Lori Korthals:

It is absolutely. So let's just start off with a quick reminder, reintroduce the definition. We're going to do it just a little bit each week just to keep everyone on the same page. But Mary Rothbart and her colleagues are where we get our definition from. They talk about temperament being a physiological basis for individual differences. So the differences in how our internal body responds, reacts, how it is able to self regulate, even things like motivation, and affect and activity and attention. All of those things are a part of temperament. One of our favorite temperament researchers, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, talks about temperament as helping us to predict. And she says that learning our temperament offers us predictability, a chance to how our children can react, act to different people, places and things that they come across. And we can eventually start to identify and predict their reactions. Essentially, she says that the genes, those biological pieces, are the template. And then the environment, which is our responses to our children, where they grow up, essentially provides us opportunities for learning how to manage their responses, our responses, and how they can manage their responses and our responses.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, yeah, and that thing you know, that word picture you gave us last week of temperament is at the core and temperament is a gift and then around that gift is the wrapping paper and the tissue paper and the bows and the card and all that extra stuff. The environment has all these extra layers, but that the temperament is always at the core. As you talked about getting to know those cues and those temperament traits, and I think it's really important for us to acknowledge as we talk about babies, in particular, that when your baby is first born, maybe I need sleep. When your baby is first born, we don't know yet, right? You spend those first few weeks and months learning your baby's temperament, learning their patterns of reaction, because they don't have a pattern yet. Because this might be the first day or the first week or the first month and so we haven't figured those out yet. And so I think that's a really important part that's unique about temperament and babies is, you're really spending those first few weeks and months figuring out what those really are. So like, it's okay, right? We say it can help you predict. But like, if you've only known this baby for a week, you can't predict a lot yet. And that's okay. There's a learning curve period.

Lori Korthals:

There's a huge learning curve. Let's talk about learning in infants in particular. So, in season three, we utilize the CDC milestones tracker, and we're going to go back to that as our basis for rediscovering what it is that infants, who we are talking about at this point in time are ages zero to one year, what kind of skills are they learning during that year, things like taking their first step, maybe, smiling, cooing, waving bye bye. These are called developmental milestones. And these are things that most children can do by a certain age. But there's variation. Children vary when they reach those specific milestones, how they learn, how they play, how they speak, all of those things are milestones. And so that's what we're going to talk about specifically, alongside temperament and infants today.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And so yeah, in addition to those kind of physical milestones, we also see cognitive milestones and language milestones. And, you know, we think about I remember when I took my grad class in child development and thinking about infants, I was like, well, yeah, the crawling, right, and the walking, right, and all that, and it was like, okay, but there's all this other stuff first. Learning that I impact the world. Learning that when I smile, maybe my caregiver smiles back. And so there's all this cognitive development that happens alongside those things. I can reach for a toy. I have fingers, these things that are attached to the ends of these. Yeah, that's happening. And so yes, lots of cognitive and brain development, the memory, the language, the thinking, the babbling is a form of language, right? The Mama, the Dada, those first words. In our house, ball was a first word. But so all of that the language, the physical, the cognitive. But there's also one really important one that we haven't covered yet, right?

Lori Korthals:

There is, and that is a stage where children are learning about trust, and they're creating bonds of love with their caregivers. And that's an area that we call social and emotional development. And this is the way

Mackenzie Johnson:

And you know, if you're a newer listener or that parents cuddle or hold their infants. And all of those things begin to set the basis for how they're going to interact with them. So Thomas nd Chess, they really talk bout temperament around this dea of a goodness of fit, or ow do we come together? I like o word picture, think of it as puzzle piece. Right? Is this a ood fitting puzzle piece with he next piece? And if it's not, ow do we adapt? So when we pecifically think of babies a d that idea of trust and r lationship and cuddling, what w 're doing is, as a caregiver, w 're matching our ability to c mmunicate with them with their a ility to communicate with us a d interact with us. And what w 're looking for is that good f ow of interaction and c mmunication, back and forth, b -directional from each other. A d what we're doing is n rturing those interactions. A d we're encouraging i teractions that are well functi ning and just that good fit to ether. Oh, yes. viewer to The Science of Parenting, you maybe haven't heard us say it before, but we talk a lot. One of our core beliefs is that parents are the experts on their kids, right? That as a caregiver, that you know your kid, that you know their needs, and temperament's a huge part of that. And this goodness of fit that you as a parent are able to create. That's a huge part of why we think parents are the experts, right? You've seen that kid's temperament. You've seen how they interact with the world. And so yeah, you're the best person to anticipate and make plans and inform the other people around them who care about them.

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Temperament is just such a huge part of it.

Lori Korthals:

It is and research tells us that understanding our child's temperament allows for this back and forth goodness to happen. And as we can show our children more emotional regulation, they learn it from us as we respond and interact and learn what their cues are, and their needs are. So let's go back to what are the nine traits that Thomas and Chess shared, and we talked a lot about them in season three, so you can go back and specifically grab onto one trait and hear us talk all about it. But we're specifically today going to only address that trait through the lens of infants. And we're going to walk through the nine traits we're going to share with you. Okay, what does this trait look like in an infant? And if you remember, we talked about the traits as a continuum. So each and every one of us and all of our children got all nine traits. We just have to decide and come to learn about how much of each trait did we get? Do we get a lot of activity level? Or just a little bit? Did we get a lot of intensity? Or just a little bit? So we'll take a couple at a time. How's that sound?

Mackenzie Johnson:

That sounds good. Let's dive into these. So I guess I'll get going. Right? One of the first temperament traits is activity level. So while physically active and moving your body, things like that. So if we're in a less active baby, so a baby with a lower activity level, they might lie quietly while getting dressed. You know, maybe they're laid down in one spot and then picked up from the same spot. What is that? It wasn't a thing for my kids. But versus that higher activity level, right? Always on the move, whether they're sleeping, I think of the term diaper wrestling as one of my siblings says. It would take two to change a diaper because they were squirming and moving and giggling. And all this silliness that was happening. I think another big one, that activity level, a higher activity level child, those physical milestones like crawling and walking, that high activity level can be an asset. They might have some of those earlier milestones for physical things, because they like to practice lots of that. That feels good. The next trait being approach or withdrawal. So does a child approach things that are new. Do they enjoy novelty like new people, new situations, new places? Or do they tend to withdraw from those new things? So for a baby that is particularly more approaching, they might be calm when a new person comes and goes in to tickle their belly and do baby talk and all those little things that people do, or you don't really notice a difference in their behavior when they're in a new place or unfamiliar place. For a baby that's high approach, that kind of stuff doesn't feel like it really, quote unquote, messes with your baby, versus a baby that's more withdrawing. This is the baby that maybe doesn't like to be passed. I had two babies that did not want to be passed around from person to person. You know, they might be distressed by new things and that things felt fearful. I even think of people when we have a dog. And when people introduce their baby to our dog, you know, does your baby like, oh, a dog? Or is your baby more fearful? And so that can be a thing. How does your baby approach things that are new? Are they approaching or withdrawing?

Lori Korthals:

And I remember coming to your house for the first time after your first child was born and we met at the door and you immediately started to say, now she might not want to be held. And I thought, okay, she's apologizing. Okay, wait, we're gonna have to teach her about temperament because she doesn't have to apologize for this baby not wanting to be held by some perfect stranger who just showed up at the door.

Mackenzie Johnson:

But I will say that temperament served you in a way that maybe wasn't serving other people in my life. You were like, oh, that's your baby's temperament. It's okay if she doesn't like to be held by new people. That's okay. That you could understand and be like, hey, there's nothing wrong with you or your baby.

Lori Korthals:

Yeah, I'll sit here and chat with you. And you can hold your baby and I'll just look at her longingly, right? Yeah, well, so that kind of leads us into this third trait adaptability and adaptability and infants. It might look like an infant who can fall asleep quickly or calmly and if they are awakened, they might be calm when they are awakened. Versus the child who is not adaptable, who you know, maybe is not ready to be done feeding and if they are awakened from their sleep, they might cry, or begin to fuss. You know, they're just not adaptable to those quick changes, whether it's the car seat or you know, getting in and out of a big snow suit or coat. Those types of things they're not comfortable with.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, those transitions of in and out of the car seat, in and out of crib, held to laying down. Is that something that your baby does fine with? If you're like, what are they talking about, you probably have a more adaptable baby. If you're like, no, my baby cries every time the car

Lori Korthals:

So how do we learn to appreciate that? So seat comes out. another trait that kind of drives right into this is intensity. So they're not adaptable, right, and what is their intensity level and when it comes to expressing their displeasure about having to adapt. A less intense infant m ght be easily soothed. They m ght just have softer cries. T ey are not going to get upset w en they're surprised or ch llenged, right? Where a more in ense infant, they might not en oy tummy time because that is challenging to them. And th y don't want to have anythin to do with that. And they're oing to express that loudly hen they are upset. They m ght have loud cries. And th y might have these loud, huge be ly laughs when they learn to laugh. But that intense baby is eally hot and cold at the same ime. Right? Hot, cold imme iately. Whoa.

Mackenzie Johnson:

And I don't remember which of our kids it was but I was with somebody else. And I remember hearing their baby cry was just like this sweet little whimpers. And I was like, what is that noise? Because when my baby cried, it was a wail. Right. So when it comes to intensity, is there a whimper or is there a wail when there's tears? A few other traits, one being sensitivity. And so think of the sensory information that your baby receives. Noise, smells, textures, right, like a wet diaper, that feeling of things like that. Lights that are bright. And so you might have a less sensitive baby who can sleep through noisy routines. I've heard somebody talk about I could vacuum under the crib while they were sleeping. I was like that baby was not very sensitive. Versus some babies wake the second they're laid down, right? They feel that cold sheet. The bright lights can be overstimulating. The noise in the place can be overstimulating. Yeah, sensitivity is a big part of that.

Lori Korthals:

I'm laughing and chuckling because I was just remembering my oldest daughter. So back in the day, we had those little cassette recorders that were black, and you just put the cassette in and flip it to play the other side. So she had a specific bedtime tape cassette. I know people are like what? No, no. And so I would sometimes I would hear that last song, and I would sprint in there and shut it off very quietly because she was so sensitive to loud noise that when that cassette turned off and got to the end of that tape, it would go click really super loud. And I would sprint in there on that last song. And then she'd stay asleep.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, that is funny. That is funny. And then that kind of closely ties also to this trait of distractibility, or perceptiveness, or alertness. Some babies really aren't bothered and don't notice too much things like light, or they can sleep or feed anywhere versus a baby that's more distractible or more in tune with the details around them. You know, I had what we call the FOMO baby, one of my kids right. Fear of missing out. Yeah, yeah. Thank you. I can't nurse while we are around these people. I have to see everything. I cannot sleep here. I'm gonna need to stay awake. Yeah. Needing the environment to be a specific way to help them because all those things are just way too enticing, right? So having it dark, needing to like be away from the commotion or staying awake in those unfamiliar places might be signs of a more alert and perceptive baby.

Lori Korthals:

I love that word alert. That's what Mary Sheedy Kurcinka uses when she talks about distractibility in her books, and she talks about what is their level of alertness, what do they catch, right? So then let's talk about persistence. I think we're on temperament trait seven, so persistence, if you've been counting. So the persistent infant, they cannot be redirected. The persistent infant, if you take a toy away from them, they want it back. A persistent infant who is crawling towards that potted plant cannot be just quickly picked up and turned around. They will go back. They will go back to that potted plant versus the less persistent infant. They're not necessarily going to want that toy back. But they're also not necessarily going to continue with a hard task. So, you know, they might just try to scoot a little, and that was good enough, that's kind of hard. I'll try that a different day. And so you know, depending on that persistence of your infant, your baby, there are different things you can get away with as a parent and other things where you're just like, how can that parent just turn their baby around and look at something different and they stop crying, right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

They don't have to play goalie against the potted plant.

Lori Korthals:

Exactly. They get to keep their magazines on the coffee table.

Mackenzie Johnson:

I remember putting a box in front of the stairs at our previous home. We didn't have a gate yet. We were waiting for the gate to get there but we had this big box because it was like, well just don't let her go on the stairs. I'm like, then I would have to sit there all day.

Lori Korthals:

Yes, I love that. We'll talk about that later. Temperament trait number eight is regularity. And we didn't put these in any particular order. But this is one of my very favorites to talk about because like I said in episode, oh, gosh, can't remember of season three, regularity. It was about, do babies eat, sleep, and poop at the same time every day. And a very regular baby will. You know what time it is based on the smell in the room. Right? The diaper needs to be changed.

It must be 11:

37. Or they're hungry and you know it's their

3:

33 snack. The infant who is regular can follow what the books say that all of your friends give you, right? And you feel successful, and you feel like you won the day because look, they followed what the book said. The irregular infant is not going to follow what the book said. They don't sleep at the same time every day. They don't sleep for the same amount every day. They aren't going to eat the same amount, they're not going to eat on schedule. No matter how committed you are to that book that your best friend gave you that worked like a charm for her, that irregular infant, their temperament is going to buck you at every turn. They just are going to listen to their own biological rhythms. The genes that someone gave them, I don't know if it was you or not, but someone gave them those biological genes to help them create their biological rhythms. And so regularity is one of those temperament traits that, gosh, adults so want to control, especially in infants, and so wrapped into my success as a parent if I get them to eat, sleep, and poop when I want them to. But temperament rules, especially in regularity,

Mackenzie Johnson:

Temperament is at the core.

Lori Korthals:

At the core. It's in the middle of that gift bag.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And you know, I have one kid that was a clock. You talk about he would cry, and I would be like, must be three o'clock. He's hungry. He's ready. And sure enough, so he was the clock. But my daughter was not. My daughter was not a clock baby. Mary Sheedy Kurcinka talks about some kids are clocks but especially with spirited babies, they tend to be more based around cues and routines. Like what are their sleepy cues, things like that. Yeah. And thinking about temperament as the gift in that gift wrap, as an infant, that was really hard for me. And I'm very irregular, too. So I felt like at least I had that going for me like oh, you're staying up? Okay, I guess I could stay up kind of thing but we're seeing it now that my irregular kid is the kid that can stay up till midnight for a wedding because she wants to dance all night. Yeah, but like her irregularity is a gift in a lot of ways for me as a parent. Like we could stay a little longer because it'll be alright if she's up a little late. She can handle that with her temperament. But it's different to have an irregular baby than it is to have a regular one and you're so right that the judgment that we put on ourselves of like, oh, cool your baby sleeps through the night. Mine doesn't. What's wrong with me?

Lori Korthals:

What's wrong with me? Oh, nothing. Nothing.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Yes. And there is one more temperament trait here and that's mood. So kind of the general disposition that a baby or a person has. And so for an infant that has high mood typically and a good mood, you're getting maybe lots of those smiles and giggles. They might be in a fairly good mood even when they didn't sleep, right? I even think there were times I remember being, how are you so happy? I'm exhausted. We were awake all night. That might be high mood. Versus a baby with a lower mood, right? All of us know people that tend to be a little more serious, that maybe are a little more somber in their disposition. And there's a lot of things that we recognize about that in adults. And that can be the case with babies too, right? Yes, exactly. They may not be giggly, but they are the thoughtful and looking around. As Mary Sheedy Kurcinka says it, an old soul in an infant body. Yeah. And so there are absolutely babies that are just, yeah, that lower mood. I hate to use the word fickle because I think that has a negative connotation to it. But some babies aren't the gigglers and that there's nothing wrong with that. There's so many beautiful gifts wrapped up in that temperament even if they're not gigglers.

Lori Korthals:

Exactly. So in the spirit of what is my baby telling me, right, let's talk about the reality. And we really, this season, we wanted to pull research in different areas that might be particularly challenging at specific ages, right? So those things that cause parents to go surf the internet at 2am. Those are the things that we wanted to focus on. And so for babies, that really honestly, was communication, because they can't communicate verbally, right? Yes. But they're communicating with us in all of these other ways. And so we wanted to try to give you something to help answer that question, what is my baby telling me? And one thing that you can do is go back to season three. We have some specific information from McCall Gordon on sleep. And we also have information from Mary Sheedy Kurcinka on her new book, Raising Your Spirited Baby. And so what we want to do is take this time to share some reality around what Mary talks about in her book. And she specifically talks about three different types of babies. So she talks about a low key baby, a spunky baby, and a spirited baby. And then we're going to talk about what she calls the three cues for arousal. Three zones. Cues, zones. Anyway, so let's go backwards. So what is a low key infant? A low key infant is the infant that says, you know what, I am so mellow, but don't forget, because my needs can actually be overlooked. And then she talks about a spunky baby. And the spunky baby is that one that's relatively mellow but they do have their temperament triggers, right? And then we talk about the spirited baby. And so I just want to actually read a little bit of this from her book, because I think it's so well stated. And the spirited baby says, I need you to help me stay calm. So please respond quickly, before I become too upset. That's the key there. Please respond quickly before I become to upset because spirited babies are intense. Every reaction is strong and powerful. A mere click of a closing door may awaken them. They're busy and on the move and keeping them safe is a constant challenge. And if you feel like you're working harder than your peers whose babies are not spirited, Mary says you are correct. Yes, but life with a spirited infant can also be filled with lots of joy. So let's talk about those zones, the cues that are in the zones for arousal, how about you kick us off?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. So looking at these three zones, you look at the cues and which zone they're in. So she talks about the green zone, the yellow zone, and the red zone. So in the green zone, you've got a pretty calm baby. Even if your baby is spirited, and your baby's intense and high activity level, but that a baby in the green zone, regardless of their temperament, is still fairly calm and fairly easy going. In the yellow zone, these are signs that your baby's starting to get what we call dysregulated, right? They're going to need something or they're starting to try to tell you they're going to need something. I'm going to need fed, I'm going to need changed, I'm going to need help, I'm going to need sleep. But the yellow zone is going to communicate some of those cues to you. And then the red zone, this is fully dysregulated. I am overtired, I am starving, I am terribly cold right? Yeah, something is awful. My cuddle bucket is empty. In the red zone things are looking tense. And I can tell you I'm very familiar with the red zone. I've spent a lot of time there, myself as well as with my infants, one in particular. But I will say the gift of temperament, yes, that idea of joy that my child that we had trouble with sleeping and eating and all those things, but that spirit of temperament was also my baby that I have so many videos of her giggling, belly laughing, exploring, climbing all over. All those things that there is so much all wrapped together in that package of temperament for sure. Yes. So first, I want to tell you some of the things about the green zone of arousal. What are some of the things you see when a baby, any baby, is in the green state of arousal? So I have my book here in front of you, me literally looking at Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's Raising Your Spirited Baby book. But things like they're looking at you and that they're engaged with you. They're engaged in play. They might be exploring. Something interesting that she has here is their movement can be more smooth, right? So it's not like jerky and fidgety, but that like I'm reaching, and it's just a thing that that's happening naturally for me. They might mimic, you know, if you clap, they clap, right? They're playing, those older babies, things like that. They're giggling. They're bright eyed, right? I think that was one thing I learned with my infants was their eyes, how much their eyes were telling me. And people told me that and I was like, I don't get it. But the bright eyed versus the blank stare that comes. And the blank stares almost turns into like a scowl later. But yeah, so that idea of they're calm, they're collected, they're smiling, they're exploring. This is of course, the ideal. This is when your baby has all of their needs met, here in the green zone.

Lori Korthals:

And as you think about these zones, think about this as your baby's communication. They're communicating with you. And then when they move into the yellow zone, this is kind of that space where they're beginning to say, hey, can you pay attention to me because I am starting to need something. I'm starting to communicate with you. So they might turn away from you, or lose interest in what's going on around them and start to become a little frustrated with it or they might seek contact with you. If you've laid them down in the middle of the floor, they might start to indicate they want you to come closer. Like Mackenzie was talking about movements, those smooth stroking movements might become more agitated or kicking or accelerated. And those bright eyes might start to frown or they might purse their lips or begin to grimace, or they start to blink. I know I'm starting to blink right now. Right? I'm doing all these things, right? But they're starting to tell you things. And these are the things I love to observe out in public with infants is, I can start to see when those babies are moving into that yellow zone just by these cues, they're starting to pucker that eyebrow, or they might even start to rev up or hum and make sounds like I'm starting to need something. And yes, they might want to be fed or you know, go for that special thing that makes them feel more comfort.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. And so those are the signs, right? Our babies are communicating, right? Absolutely. They are telling us, I'm needing something. Hey, Mama, Hey, Dada. Ball. I'm needing something is in that yellow zone that they're starting to get a little dysregulated with whatever they're feeling versus the red zone, right, where we're full fledged, the needs are urgent, and your baby is having a hard time. So this is the crying, right? Which, honestly for me, that was a really hard balance for me to find with my kids of like, okay, well don't pick them up before they even cry. Don't wake them up because you thought they were gonna cry. Versus okay, but once they're crying, they're in the red zone. And so there is, there's a balance there that can be tough. I'm also acknowledging the movement, you know, the stiffness in their body. So arching their back, tightly closed fist, that's what I remember talking to you about was their little tight fist and what their fingers are communicating, their stiff body, becoming red in the face, pulling up their knees, which to me is just so biologically interesting because you think about babies in the womb all scrunched up, that your baby is scrunching, right? Some other things being you know, scrunching up their face, flaring their nostrils, screaming, right, some older infants that are able to actually scream. But another one that I find interesting, and I see this in myself as well as in my spirited daughter, is this becoming hyper and frenzied? So like so overtired, or whatever it is, that people are like, they don't look tired at all. But they are. They're so overtired. So that's a big one. And honestly, even the super needy baby is telling you, I'm tired. Actually, we were with friends recently. And they were doing something with their baby, I guess now a little over one, I guess. But I offered to hold the baby and they were getting ready to eat something. So it's like, I could hold your baby if you want. And the baby immediately was like, no, no. And they're like I'm so sorry. I totally expected I could pass it. Normally, that's fine. You must be tired. I'm like, that's awesome that you recognize your baby's needs, right? That you're like, hey, that baby's telling me that they're not ready. And I tried to be as like, oh, that is awesome. Yes, great work. I'm so glad that you listened to your baby, and that your baby knows what it needs. I thought that was a beautiful thing that baby was doing. So yeah, those three zones of green, yellow and red. And they're zones that have cues.

Lori Korthals:

These zones have cues and they're telling you something. Your baby is telling you something in the green zone. They're telling you all is well, it's all good here. And the yellow zone, they're starting to say I'm struggling, please help. In the red zone, they're saying, I am overloaded and I need major assistance to calm down. I need your help to calm down. And so as we look at temperament, especially in infancy, what we begin to recognize is they're giving off these cues. And the amount of time we have in each zone is what we begin to understand based on their predictability as we learn about temperament. So predicting how much time we have between zones becomes super important, right? For some kids, it's longer, medium, short, right? And that is based on their temperament. Those biological, physiological things that are happening inside of them are giving us cues. And we can predict, well, I got 43 and a half seconds and that's it. I have enough time to sprint across the room and grab their blankets and be back. Right?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. That is the key. Yes. When I think of the times that I was in situations, knowing that I had a baby that had a very short window between yellow and red, and another baby that we had more time. But there was more flexibility there. But knowing that and the people like, do you really need to go? I remember the judgment and the feeling of not knowing but now I look back and I'm like, I knew my baby. So we did, my co-parent and I really did know that timeline was short, and I knew how hard it was for me once they fell apart. Yes. So I wish I could go back and tell younger parents me, you know what you're doing. And that's one of the things we believe in The Science of Parenting is like, with this temperament, with these zones of arousal, with all those things, you can learn better than anybody else what your baby's cues are, how much time you have, all those things, but you and your co-parent know your baby.

Lori Korthals:

Absolutely, oh, I love that. I was gonna co e up with something really, re lly super profound. But that was profound. Trust yourself. Trust

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. Get to know those cues. And then believe in yourself and your baby when they come around. eah, yeah. All right.

Lori Korthals:

Well, I think that means it's time to bring

Mackenzie DeJong:

That's a good question. So I was texting our producer Mackenzie in and see if she can help us stop and breathe and take a moment in this section. We gave her a little break in season six, brought her back in season seven. And so last week, she was pretty, pretty easy on us with a question. And so I'm curious this week to see what kind of question do you have, Mackenzie? during this whole thing, because I thought I had questions. It's one of those, I thought I had a question and y'all covered all of my question. I want to talk a little bit more because you touched on it. And I feel like the answer didn't necessarily come up around the idea. So you just talked about trusting yourself. We talked about, you know, people have opinions of things and you talk about trusting yourself and knowing your baby. But when you come into that situation with someone who is trying to be the backseat driver of your baby and the car that you're in of handling a newborn, what kind of things can we start to have conversations around? Or how can we start to have those conversations with others about like, oh, my baby, or here's temperament in general, or those sorts of things, so we can start to educate those around us so that we don't feel that judgment.

Lori Korthals:

You need to talk to my friend, Mackenzie, right. Give them her card.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, it's tough. That's such a good question. Yes. Okay. There are several things that I can't say fast enough. One, as a parent, you don't have to explain those decisions to anybody but your co-parent. That's the thing that didn't sit with me well for a long time. But you don't need anybody else to agree besides your co-parent. And maybe, you know, if you have a childcare provider, that would be another person that really needs to be on board. But otherwise, so that's one part of it is you're allowed to say, I don't need them to understand this. So that's one thing I want to say. Another one is yes, those conversations around temperament and helping people around you, you know, even your parents, well-intentioned grandparents, well-intentioned friends, other friends who are parents whose baby is different than yours, all of those people. I'm talking about what you know about your baby. You know, explaining it in terms of, I have seen my baby does this and this, and sometimes being as forward as saying, because sometimes it's just hard to have a baby as wonderful as they are. And being able to say, like, I really just need you to listen right now. Like, what I really need from someone is to just listen, because it is so tempting, especially those of us who've had babies to be like, Oh, you know what, with my baby.

Lori Korthals:

Even when they say, well, my sister did this, have you tried it?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. The have you tried it? The have you tried? I don't want one more person to tell me about that. Right?

Lori Korthals:

So my middle daughter was super spirited in certain different specific ways. And we had a heartbreaking situation where we had to switch caregiving situations. And it honestly had to do with temperament, and her temperament and her neediness. And you know, just her. I always called it her small emotional bucket, like her emotional bucket emptied very quickly. And the care that she was in was super amazing care. Except there weren't enough caregivers. And so in her case, she needed a place that had more than one caregiver, because her needs were way too demanding for only one person. And so that was hard, so hard to leave a beloved caregiver recognizing that my specific child's temperament needed more than one person available to fill her little emotional bucket. Yes. And that's a hard conversation. And the super cool thing is that I had learned about temperament in between my two children. My caregiver actually learned about temperament about six years later, through like she legitimately took a training in which there was an entire eight hour day devoted to temperament. And she came to me from a different state because she had moved, she came to me after that training, and said, Oh, my gosh, Lori, I finally now understand what you meant about her temperament and how she needed more than one caregiver. And she goes, that was a hard pill for me to swallow. But I am so glad that you stuck to your decision. And we repaired a bridge that was broken. It was tough. Yes. But as that young parent, I just knew she needed more than one person and I knew that my caregiver was going to be happier without my baby there.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes. It's okay to say it was hard for them. Yeah. And I think the other thing that we're kind of getting at here is we don't always talk about it when I think about parenting education or what we do as parents, but your ability to advocate for your baby. You know, your ability that what are they telling me. You work so hard to learn what they're telling you, and so bringing them to a grandparent to watch them for an hour or for overnight or for whatever it is, you know, at finding those people in your life who will trust your expertise, and then helping teach others and advocate for your baby. Oh, you know what, there's gonna be a really short time frame between this and this or you know what? She is gonna cry and then she's gonna scream and it's gonna happen really fast. Or he's not gonna cry. And so yes, but the communication and the advocacy that happens when you learn about your baby's temperament and to trust yourself, and your co-parent. And then, okay, this is kind of a tough one for me to say. My husband and I have a great relationship and he's a fantastic parent and co-parent. But it was a hard thing for us to recalibrate. I had maternity leave, and he did not have maternity leave. And so I had spent hours and hours and hours and weeks at home with our baby one on one. And so it was also a matter when there's not equity and equality in how much time you spend with your baby, or the quality of time you're able to spend, and your co-parenting relationship, that's also a factor. And like, I've been noticing this, have you seen or sometimes there's that knowledge sharing of whichever parent has spent more time especially when that baby is so new. So consider that communication and have a plan for it before you have a baby. If you know how much time each of you is gonna get, if you get any. Yes, any paid or unpaid kinds of time. And so think through those things. Great.

Mackenzie DeJong:

All right. Well, thank you.

Lori Korthals:

Good question.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Judgment comes and the conversations come, alot of it well intended, right? Have you ever thought of and it's like, everybody tells me. Oh, thanks. That's great. All right.

Lori Korthals:

So we've covered a lot of things today about the babies. I don't think I can say it right. I can say looking at, what are the milestones? What are the things that they are working on? And how can we recognize what our part was in giving them those genes, right, and then taking that to a different level of understanding and thinking about that goodness of fit? What else did we do?

Mackenzie Johnson:

Oh, talking about so much. Well, I'm looking at how each of those temperament traits plays into the different tasks, right? We talked a lot about sleep. Temperament is a huge factor in how babies sleep, but also feeding and all of those things. So we walked through those nine traits and what do you have. We talked about spirited babies but whether you have a low key, spunky or spirited temperament is a factor in how you parent for sure. Yeah. Yeah.

Lori Korthals:

So next week, we're going to talk about toddlers and their developmental milestones and how temperament plays into some of those some really big feelings that they have, right? Maybe we'll myth bust some of those challenges that toddlers have. Yeah, please. Thanks for coming along with us at The Science of Parenting and be sure to follow us weekly on Facebook and watch us on your feed.

Mackenzie Johnson:

Yes, yes, anywhere in your social media. Please do come along with us as we talk about all the ups and downs, the ins and outs, and the research and reality all around The Science of Parenting.

Anthony Santiago:

The Science of Parenting is hosted by Lori Korthals and Mackenzie Johnson, produced by Mackenzie DeJong, with research and writing by Barbara Dunn Swanson. Send in questions and comments to parenting@iastate.edu and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the full non-discrimination statement or accommodation inquiries go to www.extension.iastate.edu/diversity/ext