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Call to support baby homes

Baby homes are in need of support as they cater for abandoned babies.

HIGHWAY retired midwife Gill Scott encourages the community to support baby homes and daycare centres as they deal with the most critical yet important people of our society. Scott has been working with babies for more than 40 years as she has worked as a midwife, nurse, clinic sister and owns a daycare centre.

Scott said that in her experience of working with babies, she has discovered that many people emphasise the importance of primary caregiving.

“Babies are little human beings who don’t speak a verbal language yet. All of their potential, all of their giftings are within that little package. They are highly sensate little beings whose emotions and senses are very developed. To help them gain their potential in life, they need three things: love without which nothing flourishes; a good protein source, preferably from breast milk, for optimal brain growth, and stimulation for optimal brain development.

Also read: Pinetown’s baby home continues to give hope

“At birth, the size a baby’s brain is a quarter of an adult’s. It doubles in size in the first year. Ninety percent of brain growth is achieved by five years old. Their brains are like sponges. As a child’s brain grows, each cell becomes bigger and heavier. Much growth is in the cerebellum area which is in charge of physical and motor development. Dendrite trees are formed which receive sensory signals. All is not lost if a little one has brain pathways misfiring as some postnatal neurogenesis takes place with sufficient stimulation in critical brain areas. Individual attention, exposure to the wonderful world of nature around us, and the stimulation of all the senses in a loving environment ensure optimal growth,” she explained.

Scott said an abandoned baby is really a heartbreaking situation as our very concept of ourselves is formed in the first two years of life.

“Whether we see ourselves as loved and worthy or discarded and worthless is being imprinted deeply into the unconscious mind at this age. ‘Failure to thrive’ is a medical term for a baby who presents with stunted growth and development for no other reason except a barren emotional environment where they do not feel loved. When I trained at Addington in the 1970s, our paediatric lecturer said, ‘Be very careful of a baby who never cries for attention as they have given up’,” she said.

Also read: Baby home starts support programmes for teen mothers

She further cautioned parents to look at the kind of daycare centres they send their children to- to ensure that the centres are registered.

“For kiddies in daycare, the legal registration of the daycare / day mother ensures that all the legal processes have been followed. The other thing I would look out for as a parent is the relationship between the caregiver and the children in her care. You can’t fake love – little children are very tactile, and there should be a loving relationship between them,” she said.

Scott said that as a caring society, with the realisation that children hold our future in their hands, we need to look out for the weak and the vulnerable wherever we can, supporting organisations that support abandoned children by whatever means we can. “Just to be loved by someone for an hour a week can make a life-changing difference in a child’s life. Money does help organisations involved in childcare, but an extra pair of hands and a heart that loves are irreplaceable,” she said.

Also read: Show support for Upper Highway baby home

Westville Baby House founder Terri Wentzel echoed Scott’s sentiments as someone who works closely with abandoned babies.

“Without safe homes, the rate of infant mortality as a result of abandonment would be incomprehensibly higher than it already is. Every little human born is deserving of life and deserving of love and safety, and safe homes provide just that. We strive to create a family atmosphere filled with love and hope for their futures – for babies to grow and thrive in.

“We survive solely on community support and donations to keep our doors open and little tummies full. We definitely couldn’t survive without our incredible community, who have always been exceptionally generous and never hesitated to help,” said Wentzel.

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