The ability to trust another human being isn't always easy, but, hopefully, we learn how to via our parents and/or guardians. And while many children, sadly, can't say the same, most children are fortunate enough to have someone who will love, care, and provide for them. That love and care establishes trust, but how do we, as parents, know when a baby is finally learning to trust us? Turns out, there are more than a few signs that let us know we're quickly becoming our baby's "person."
Of course, the way trust looks for babies — who are, for the most part, non-verbal — is different than it looks for us as adults. We might show our friends we trust them by confiding in them with a personal secret. We can let our lovers know we trust them by giving them a key to our apartment, or by letting them see us fully naked in bright lighting (you know you don’t do that with just anyone). We show our old kids we trust them by allowing them more freedom and responsibilities, from putting their own clothes on to staying out past curfew
But as our relationships with our children grow and evolve, it's worth paying attention to how we established trust in the first place. From the time they're brought into the world, we, as parents, are building the foundation of trust that our kids will learn to crawl, stand, and walk on. So if you're at all worried you're somehow doing the whole "new mom thing" wrong, let me assure you that you're not. In fact, your baby is learning to trust you right now, and they're trying to tell you so in the following ways:
When They Reach Out For You
You wouldn’t reach out to someone you don’t trust, right? Babies want trusted individuals to carry them, play with them, care for them, and love them. They can’t do much at first, but once they figure out how to reach with their hands, and reach for you, you'll know they trust you fully.
When They Cry For You
Babies know that mama can help them if they cry. So while no mom wants to hear her baby cry, remembering that babies cry on purpose to make sure you come by to comfort them or take care of whatever they need can help. They trust that their tears will put you to work (and damn if they aren’t totally right).
When They Don’t Freak Out During Diaper Changes
If someone they don’t trust is changing their diaper, a baby is sure to fuss and cry more than usual. Of course, that's not to say that if your baby cries during a diaper change they don't trust you. Diaper changes can be uncomfortable for all involved, and a baby is sure to cry when they're uncomfortable.
So while this one’s kind of a mixed bag, if you can tell the difference in how your baby acts when you change their diapers versus, say, an aunt or uncle, they're telling you something.
When They Fall Asleep On You
You know those trust falls people do on mandatory work retreats? That’s like the grown up version of a baby falling asleep in your arms or on your person. If a baby is letting you hold them long enough for them to pass out, they trust you.
When They Let You Feed Them
Would you trust just anyone to shove a spoonful of weird green goop in your mouth? Yeah, probably not. Babies also know (to an extent) to only trust certain people when those so-called "airplanes" are coming in for a landing.
(Of course, if you end up feeding them something they absolutely hate, they might question your intentions for a while.)
When They Let You Burp Them
Burping babies is a super weird business. Newborns especially, since you have to kind of hold their head in place and make sure the pats on their backs are firm but not too hard.
But imagine how it would all go down if your baby didn’t trust you at all! If they're being laid back and just chill about the whole thing, chances are they trust you.
When They Get Upset After You Put Them Down
Who doesn’t want to stay in the arms of a trusted individual, right? Babies would love nothing more than to hang on or off of your body at all hours of the day and night. But you, of course, need to be able to live life and shower on occasion. Your baby probably won’t be too thrilled at first, and that's a telltale sign that they trust you completely.
And when they stop crying after you put them down or leave a room, it's proof that they trust you to come back, too.
When They Stay Close To You
Once your baby can crawl a bit, they might want to explore the world around them. They’ll feel more adventurous at home, maybe, but when they’re out in public (say, a park or playground or a friend's house) chances are they're going to keep you in their sights. They trust you, to be sure, but other people? Eh, not so much.
When They Believe You
The biggest proof that someone trusts you is that they will believe what you say, and babies are no exception. If mommy tells her little one she’s just grabbing something from the next room and will be right back, baby will eventually learn that mom is telling the truth and side-step the whole freakout routine.
So even if your baby can't talk yet, communicating what you're doing, and why, is a good step in establishing a lasting bond of trust between you and your child.