The birth of a baby with Down syndrome can be a traumatic experience for many parents. People react in many different ways when told their baby has Down syndrome. Many people say the moment remains very clear in their minds and they remember it for a long time.
They remember a feeling of overwhelming sadness and the sense of joy and celebration typically associated with the birth of a child is muted. Due to the complexity of feelings and emotions surrounding the birth of a baby with Down syndrome; people will often forget to congratulate the new parents and welcome the baby.
Many families report receiving sympathy cards rather than congratulations cards.
Babies with Down syndrome smile later than typically developing babies. This is medically attributed to their developmental delay. Babies will develop many skills through copying / imitation. It can be hypothesised that due to the muted joy surrounding the birth, the baby with Down syndrome will not be smiled at as much as typically developing babies; therefore their opportunity to copy/imitate is reduced.
The fact that a baby has Down syndrome is very much secondary to the fact that he or she is an individual. The baby with Down syndrome has the same needs as any other newborn. This involves the usual routine of feeding and changing, along with all the kisses and cuddles. Stimulation, playing, handling, talking and smiling are so important in the development of every baby.
This is no different for a baby with Down syndrome. Sometimes the physicality of the condition makes it difficult to see beyond it and recognise the baby as an individual.