The first week’s of a newborn’s life are referred to as They Symbiotic Period. Their primary occupation in this phase is adjusting to life outside the womb. Unlike other phases of child development this phase is shared with the whole family.
When you have a newborn it’s easy to forget that this tiny, mewing bundle is no longer an extension of your body! It is important to respect the child during the Symbiotic Period and give them the space, love and time they need to absorb the changes that birth brings. Parents and siblings have similar needs during this wonderful time.
What is The Symbiotic Period?
“Developing the right type of attachment during the symbiotic period paves the way for natural detachment and psychological birth happens.” – Dr Montanaro, Understanding the Human Being.
The Symbiotic Period refers to approximately the first 8 weeks of a person’s life. During this time parents, siblings and baby are all adjusting to their new lives and learning their new roles. It is a time for gentleness, patience, affection and rest.
It is a time when relationships within the family become dependent. The newborn relies on his or her parents for feeding, warmth, care and as a familiar reference in a radically altered new world. Likewise we rely on the newborn to redefine ourselves as a parent of two or an older brother.
The Symbiotic Period is a time in which a family is born.
The Family’s Needs
A newborn needs the physical touch of their parent, to hear the heartbeat and breaths that were their soundtrack for 9 months, to listen to the voices that echoed around the womb and to feel the warmth that surrounded them.
A parent needs this time to learn to understand their baby, to interpret their cries, to learn how their body likes to be positioned. Cuddles and quiet time for new parents play a vital role in allowing bonding, easing the burden of postpartum sadness and enabling a transition into the new parenting role.
A sibling needs reassurance of their place in the family, to feel valued, important and loved. They need empowering to take on their new responsibility of loving someone weaker than themselves. They need to be equipped with the skills they need to join their parents in caring for the baby.
The Goal of The Symbiotic Period
The ultimate goal of The Symbiotic Period is love; loving each member of the family in the way that they need to be loved at that time. For mum that might mean physical care as she heals from birth. Dad may need patience and understanding as he does things he was never taught to do. For siblings it might be extra attention as they learn to share their parents.
Establishing this base of love, acceptance and understanding now will hold the family together during the tough times that everyone will inevitably face.
There is nothing complicated about the Symbiotic Period, quite the opposite in fact! The Symbiotic Period, while not directly referred to by Montessori as a sensitive period, fits beautifully with the Montessori understanding of the child.
For parents wishing to use Montessori from birth they need start with nothing but quietness and love.