Our parents’ behavior toward us in early infancy and even in the womb fundamentally affects our brain development, behavior and experience throughout our lives. Research is now showing that in infancy, our brains are forming neural connections at an incredible rate, our experience is affecting how our genes express themselves through epigenetic programming, and our need for attachment to our primary caregivers is critical and primal.
In infancy, we are at our most susceptible. It is a time of great opportunity and tremendous vulnerability. Research shows that loving attuned caregiving by our parents during this early time leads to a healthy foundation on which a productive, happy, empathic, intelligent, loving individual is created for life. It is also showing that traumatic experiences during this time period lead to brain abnormalities and altered gene expression.
Take a look at this brief article by Madeleine Kunin for the Huffington Post: The First Thousand Days in a Baby’s Life.
Consider how easy it is to harm an infant. The infant is weak, needy, susceptible, unable to communicate effectively. Sadly, abuse toward infants is quite common, those who are driven to commit evil acts often finding the most undefended victims.
A recent study on abuse in infancy showed that we could help in prevention by catching early incidents and injuries.
Public awareness of these issues is critical and changes in policies can lead to great social improvement. We reap what we sow.