She also learned for the first time that ever since he was a little boy he usually cried himself to sleep because he wanted his own mother. A little spoiling and a normal home life would have made all the difference to that boy. Another baby I know had a particularly difficult upbringing. Her mother was a nervous, over-wrought and unstable woman. She became so difficult and unreliable at times that her baby had often to be taken from her and given to a neighbor to take care of later, the mother had to have treatment in a mental hospital. On her return, she was tragically downed while trying to rescue her other child. At the outbreak of war Mary was ten years of age, and was evacuated to America, where she spent a very happy five years.
On her return she found a stepmother and a baby stepbrother. It is no wonder that she found adjustment a little difficult, and that her parents were apprehensive lest she develop the same traits as her mother. Psychological investigations revealed a panic feeling that she might die-an acute fear of death and a perfectionist ideal of herself quite out of keeping with her true nature. Clearly, she had felt acutely frightened and insecure in babyhood. The most essential part of the baby’s upbringing is that he shall feel secure and happy as often as possible, and insecure and frightened as seldom as possible.
In the pre-natal condition, the fetus is kept warm, safe and comfortable in the mother’s womb. Birth the physical exertion, the sudden change of temperature, the loss of the ease and comfort of his position, the contact with hard surfaces, strange lights and noises, and the parting from his mother in a very literal sense must involve a serious disturbance to his psychic equilibrium as well as to his physical condition. He greets his new environment with a cry-if he is a healthy baby-and he sleeps as often as possible in the first few months, shutting out all the disturbing stimuli which impinge on his senses. His great craving, however, is for food and in his waking moments his mind and his body seem concentrated to gain this end. It is not, therefore, in the least surprising to find that the keenest intellectual activity and the strongest emotional expression are shown in relation to the feeling process. The baby adapts his body, watches for his mother, gazes at her facet: he shows eagerness and delight when his need is satisfied, anxiety and anger when it is frustrated.
The healthy, comfortable baby, who is well fed and well cared for, appears placid and contented. The ailing baby, ill at ease, undernourished and carelessly looked after, appears unhappy and disturbed.