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Nearly all mindfulness resources for parents are for pregnancy or toddlers. But what about in-between? Can you practice mindfulness with a human that can barely lift its head? Can you practice mindfulness when you haven’t slept in what feels like years and are knee-deep in diapers?
Yes. And absolutely yes!
And the amazing news is that you don’t need any special tools, don’t need to do anything more than you’re already doing, and definitely don’t need to be a zen master. All you need to do is incorporate some mindfulness techniques into your everyday life. You’ll not only find yourself feeling more present and centered, but you’ll create routines, habits, and foundations that will support your little one as they grow.
Mindfulness With Babies
Here are four tips to get you started on your mindfulness with babies journey:
Whether you’re feeding them, carrying them, or just resting together, take advantage of that closeness by taking long, delicious, deep breaths. This will help your exhausted nervous system get a little break and nourish your little one. During the first few months of life, babies often have a gap in their breathing, and it’s thought that our breaths remind them to take the next inhale. In fact, sometimes babies will even start to match our breathing. How amazing that we can help our little ones and become more present with them even just by breathing?
Play With the Senses
Mindfulness is about getting present in the moment, rather than letting yourself get distracted by the future, the past, or TikTok. One of the best ways to do that is to bring awareness to all five senses. Your little one is just learning about theirs, so together, you can focus on what they’re experiencing right here and right now. Wherever you are, pick a sense and then explore it.
Carry them over to the beautiful art you selected for their nursery and really look at it. Let them take in the colors, the light’s reflection, and the frame’s shape. Or lay them on the floor and give them a baby massage, letting them explore all the sensations of touch across each part of their body. There’s so much you can do with the senses to help them learn and connect!
Open the Window
Yep, that’s a mindfulness practice. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, your world can become the size of your nursery. It’s just diapers and sleepless nights and showerless days. An open window brings, literally, a breath of fresh air. Even on a cold winter day, open your window for a few minutes. That outside air will give you and your baby a myriad of emotional and physical benefits like elevated mood, stress reduction (babies can get stressed too), and a lift in energy. And the connection with the outside – sounds of birds, scent of fresh cut grass, the sensation of a breeze – can bring you both in tune with the world around you.
Add a Ritual to Your Routine
In the beginning, there’s a lot of repetition. It feels endless. Look for a way to bring a ritual into your routine. These practices turn the everyday into something special to help you get out of your head and back into the moment. For instance, put a post-it with a special affirmation over the changing table. You may come to the changing area feeling hurried, frustrated, and triggered because your baby is tired, uncomfortable, and letting it be well known. But you see that sign above your changing table, pause, and begin your ritual.
You take a deep, centering breath, look at your baby, and say your affirmation out loud. Your baby magically becomes silent and happy. Just kidding! Nope, life keeps going. But amid the chaos, you connect with yourself, your baby, and the present moment. Your little one heard your voice and saw your smile. Even though they’re unhappy, they know you’re with them in the moment, right here and right now.
Get the idea? Mindfulness isn’t about teaching your newborn to meditate. It’s about finding little things you can do while you’re making it through the day to help you and your baby connect and be present. And whether you’ve been practicing mindfulness for a lifetime or you’re new to the practice, you already have what it takes to instill a little mindfulness into your every day!
Arden Joy is a yoga teacher and Reiki Master who can trace her lineage directly back to Mikao Usui, the very first practitioner of Reiki. Arden’s passion is creating space for supportive, educational, and uplifting conversation. She is the co-author of The Nourish Method, a groundbreaking book that explores mindfulness practices for babies, toddlers, and parents, and the founder of Her Adventures, a travel community radically redefining travel to be inclusive, sustainable, and empowering for all women.