What My Daughter Needs the Most...

When my daughter, Claire, was about a week old and we were barely getting any sleep (I was clocking about three hours a night in those early days trying to console her crying), I was desperate. Without any time to wait for books to be mail-ordered, I went to the library and checked out half a dozen books on “fussy babies” and “how to get your baby to sleep.”

As I mentioned before in this post, one of the decisions we made about that time was to not feel tied down to what the “experts” say about raising a newborn. We decided to follow our own instincts, to listen to her and to remember what the Lord, alone, has asked of us as parents. And life became a lot simpler.

But in that desperate run to the library, I came across a book: Baby Hearts by Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn. It’s a scientific look at the emotional needs and lives of babies, from birth up to three years old. By looking at research and studies done in labs and controlled experiments around the world, the authors help parents understand what factors affect how a baby feels and how those earliest interactions and feelings can affect a baby for the rest of his or her life. Because, the authors say, what a baby feels during their first year even can drastically impact them for the rest of their lives. Pretty powerful stuff, huh?

As I was reading through it, one of the things they stated at the beginning of the book was that what researchers have found as the best predictor of a person’s healthy emotional state later in life can be traced back to the amount of attachment they feel toward their parents during these early months.

I read and reread that section: “….we now know that children’s experiences during the first three years of life have an enormous effect on every aspect of their emotional lives thereafter. Forming a strong bond with his or her baby must, therefore, be every parent’s first and foremost goal. This emotional bond, or secure attachment, as it’s referred to by child development professionals, is considered crucial to emotional well-being because it establishes children’s ‘working model’ for future relationships…”

It confirmed what my husband and I had already decided: That it was more important to us that we tend to her heart rather than get caught up in things like sleeping X-amount of hours a night or spacing feedings so many hours apart. Sure, it might be awkward if she is older and can’t sleep through the night for a slumber party, but that pales in comparison to ensuring she feels safe and secure in our love.

I feel the need to add a caveat like, “Of course I don’t mean that X or Y or Z,” when it comes to routines and sleep and everything else. But rather than go through all that, I’ll trust that you know what I mean. That as parents, while establishing healthy habits and helping her get settled into this wonderful-but-weird world of ours, the main objective of what we’re doing must be on her heart, not on these other things that will likely fall into place on their own anyway.

So, I’m writing this in the moments after holding my daughter in my arms until she fell asleep peacefully and placed her down in her bassinet. And I don’t feel guilty about it, one bit.

Related Posts
Discovering Peace and Freedom in Parenting
My Birth Story: The Arrival of My Daughter, Claire 


  1. Let me encourage you. My first baby is 16 now. She is a joy and a delight, a responsible, much sought after babysitter. She is a straight A student, has traveled to other countries without us for academic conferences. She is a respectful, helpful individual, a strong Christian and a leader in her school and youth group.

    She was a baby much like your Claire. She was a lousy sleeper and needed a lot of holding. Like you, we as parents trusted our instincts, despite lots of advice to the contray, and I am so glad we did. Those first few years were tough but the pay off was so worth it.

    Feel free to email me anytime you need support. This parenting gig is a tough one at times.

    1. Oh, how sweet of you, Mary. Thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement. You know, I have had a couple of women tell me the same things--how their "difficult" babies have grown up to be amazing women. It really means so much to me to be reminded to take a long-picture perspective on these things. Because sleeping through the night really won't matter in ten years, but her knowing she's loved? That certainly will!

  2. Have you read Spirit Lead Parenting http://www.amazon.com/Spirit-Led-Parenting-Freedom-Babys-First/dp/0615619207 ? My baby is nearly six months now and that book helped me a lot his first few months. Though granted there was one night where he woke up crying and I then in turn woke my husband up yelling, "These ladies want me to praise Jesus for these moments and I am just to tired to praise Him!" Luckily, my husband and Jesus are gracious to me and forgive those comments. I found in the nightly wakeups (which do get better, way better, and then they get worse again and then better again and then you have another baby and do it all again) that even though I hate getting up at first once baby is fed and cuddled and put back down I rarely regret that time with baby and Jesus and sometimes a good book.

  3. amen! It's definitely a blessing to be able to stay home & focus on the babe. It's hard being 24/7. So hard and tiring. But I remember those mother instincts kicking in and thinking holding, rocking, nursing him to sleep or just because felt right. I'm sure you're doing great :)


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