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Nine In; Nine Out

Eleanor the newborn squish

Just over 9 months ago, we welcomed Eleanorinto the world!   Today, while visiting a friend with a wee 3 week old, I was struck by just how much change happens in the first 9 months of life.  Our babies undergo more physical, mental, and emotional changes in that time than they will at any other time in their lives.  Eleanor started as this sleepy, little curled up squish; now she’s a lanky crawling, cruising, babbling, giggle-box.

Eleanor at 9 months

Some months ago, I wrote about the “fourth trimester” – a belief that the nurturing of pregnancy doesn’t end at birth but rather continues through the first 3 months of baby’s life.  But in many ways, our babies aren’t really finished “gestating” even at 3 months old.  The “Nine In; Nine Out” theory suggests that human babies aren’t really “full term” until more like 9 months (there’s a nice little write up on this idea here with links to more information).   It’s generally accepted that human infants are born less mature than most other mammals.  In order to gain our upright posture, we had to sacrifice width on our pelvic opening.  Combine that with the large brains of humans and it becomes necessary for our babies to be born before their brains are fully developed.

I really like the Nine In; Nine Out theory because it reminds us just how important our constant nurture is during those first 9 months of baby’s life (not that it becomes less important on that 9 month-day!) to support those developing brains.  I’ve written before at my frustration at a society that seems to expect independence from infants; that expectation seems even more absurd when you think about just how immature our babies brains really are.   The experiences and interactions with caregivers our babies have in those first 9 months set the stage for much of the rest of their lives.   One reason I’m drawn to the principles of Attachment Parenting is because AP specifically recognizes the importance of these early experiences in creating a foundation for children who are confident and independent – yet connected to others – later in life.

I think it’s safe to say that while parenting isn’t always bright and rosy, the moments of frustration are far outweighed by the moments of wonder as we watch our babies grow and change.  I’ve loved watching Eleanor grow and change for the last 9 months…and I can’t wait to see the person she will become in the days to come!

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Published in Parenting Random