It’s 2018 and we, as a society, are finally talking openly about consent. Young people are learning more about the importance of giving and receiving enthusiastic consent in relationships and in sexual encounters. Parents and teachers are starting to learn the importance of teaching children consent to help them establish healthy boundaries early on. And whether you believe it or not, even babies can low-key give you consent. You just have to know how to identify and respect it.
People assume that babies aren’t really capable of substantial, or even minimal, communication. But prior to their development of spoken language, babies are capable of using gestures as a form of communication. For example, babies cry when they want something. So even if they can’t speak and don’t quite “get” language yet, they are communicating a need. So why wouldn’t they be able to, on a very basic level, give you consent? The answer is, of course, that they can.
While a baby might lack the ability to fully understand exactly why they are feeling or acting a particular way, they are capable of responding to the world around them and communicating their needs and wants. That's exactly why us parents need to watch our babies for signs they're giving, or withholding, consent. Will there be exceptions, like when you have to get your baby vaccinated or give them a bath? Of course. Every parent has to assess a situation and do what’s best for their baby. But if we can at least show our babies that we care about how they feel, why not?