Review – The Secret Life of Babies

A review on the ITV programme about the brain development of a baby in the the important first two years of it’s life.

SECRET BABY Last night I watch the ITV programme The Secret Life of Babies, a programme about the formative two years of a child’s life and how their brains works in that time. For most adoptive parents the importance of these years is very well know, we appreciate the damage which can occur when these years are spent in neglect and abuse. I wondered if by watching this programme I would glean more understanding of how my children had been affected by their experiences in early life. The programme began with the words

“The first two years of our lives are the most critical; we grow more, learn more, move more and even fight more than at any other time, yet remember none of it”.

Well check on the fact, I already knew this but, I contemplated if all parents with a new born truly understood the significant of this. This programme, understandably, was based on well nurtured and loved children; it would have been hard to take other aspects into consideration in this hour long programme. However I instantly knew I would review all information presented from a different angle. I knew I would have many questions by the end of it.

The initial talk of finding mum’s face, visually, in the first twenty minutes of life and beginning to then recognise and relate to that face made me wonder about how a child is affected if mum doesn’t feel engaged and happy to have her baby in the world.

Early on there was a very dramatic story told about a six month old baby almost drowning and how this baby survived. Despite the physical attributes that ensured this baby survived, it was amazing to see that a year later he seemed happy and unaffected.

It reminded me of the fact that it is continual trauma and no recognition and loving support after the trauma to help the healing, that makes the impact on our children.

The statement that “children are surprisingly tough, but this does not mean they will bounce” struck a chord with me. My children are tough and have been through a lot and they are scared but they are also recovering in a way that I think adults would find much harder if they had suffered similar hardships. I agreed with this point. There were many other such observations made that I could relate to in a similar way. I found the observation on how children perceive colours and require bold colours and contrast in earlier years interesting. I considered if my children’s lack of use of colour in creativity means that they never really moved through this part of growing up or had the opportunity to truly explore it. The observation about how much children learn from mimicking their parents is a notable problem for neglected and abused children.

They either learn nothing from not having that interaction and therefore miss massive emotional learning blocks or learn extremely harmful and damaging behaviour from abusive parents.

The later section on where empathy is learnt almost broke my heart. Knowing that so many milestones are already missed by this 18 month point means our children are not ready to understand and comprehend when their peers are having tantrums and starting to act out adult situations. The programme comes to a close with a similar statement it began with, these years are when children

“learn how to think, feel and relate to the world around us”

  What if that world has been full of danger aggression and hurt?

I thought the programme was really interesting and for me very thought provoking. I am all in favour of more people understand the importance of the brains development in those important years and I only hope that many watched it and will give greater consideration to the workings of the brain of those that have not lived a life full of nurture and love.

One thought on “Review – The Secret Life of Babies

  1. Fiona

    I’ve not seen the programme yet, I know I’ll find it interesting. I like your review, as , as in life, many theories are developed using ‘the average’ ie: middle spectrum.


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