Soothing Techniques learned along the way
Our ever growing compilation of tips and tricks learned along the way:
“High needs”, “Difficult Temperament”, and “Fussy Baby” are words used by us, nurses, and family members to describe our son during his newborn era. He didn’t sleep great, and if he was awake then he was crying. He’d nurse for over an hour, but then would still fuss. He just seemed really unhappy almost all of the time. At around 14 weeks, he turned a major corner and all of this seemed to quickly improve. Why was he so upset those first few months? Was he not getting enough milk (despite 2 lactation consultants, 1 call to the La Leche League, at least 3 different supplements, and lots of oatmeal, I still didn’t seem to produce enough milk)? Was he responding to my own depression and adjustment challenges? Was it the “fourth trimester” concept? Was he over stimulated (many commented on how alert he was for a newborn)? Was he just adjusting to the reality of being alive and out in the world? We don’t know. But here’s a few things that seem to comfort our kid:
WHITE NOISE: I learned from “Happiest Baby on the Block” that white noise needs to be loud – the decibel level in the womb is surprisingly loud and anything mimicking the womb is soothing to new babies. And when baby is crying, the white noise volume has to be louder than his crying in order to get his attention; once he begins to settle, the volume can begin to be lowered. We first picked up on the effectiveness of white noise when we noticed Archer calming down the closer he was to our old and loud dehumidifer. We found an awesome website: www.simplynoise.com where you can play continuous white noise for free. We used this everyday. Then we bought some $20 gizmo from Walgreens that has different types of white noise and projects dancing images on the ceiling above his crib. We still use this nightly. He now has a humidifer (helps with runny nose and coughs continually picked up from daycare and which also seem exacerbated during months when the heat is turned on) and this produces nice white noise too.
SWADDLING: Many little babies get themselves agitated with their own movements, especially with their arms and hands. Most babies get more upset as they’re being swaddled, but then calm down once swaddling is complete. The big tip I picked up with this is to swaddle tight! Babies are clever and strong when it comes to springing their arms free. A friend passed along her “miracle blanket” which really makes swaddling easier than using a regular blanket. It’s a bit of a baby straight jacket, but it works. We used his everyday and it really calms him down. We tried a few other purported “best swaddle technology” products as he got bigger, but nothing worked half as well as the miracle blanket did. Once he was able to flip over on his belly while swaddled (around age 4 months) we had to retire our swaddling habits, but it seemed he was ready to grow out of them around that time anyway.
OUTDOOR TIME: It was true when he was a week old and is still true now at age 15 months: Archer loves being outside and it almost always is soothing to him. Maybe it’s just a distraction, getting to look at the cars and birds and planes. Or maybe he starts to get a little crazy when stuck inside for too long, just like we do. Fresh air? Ambient natural white noise? Fresh oxygen? Who knows. But it does all of us a lot of good every time we step outside to play on the porch, sit in the yard, stroll down the street, head to playground, or run around the zoo. Now he runs to the front door and starts fussing to go outside on a regular basis.
SINGING: Ted and I have made up all kinds of goofy (and some sweet) songs trying to calm down our kid. It usually works. The most successful song seems to be singing the alphabet to him – over and over and over. “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” is interactive which he loves, and when he was a newborn I created my own lyrics to a lullaby tune that helped calm me and him down at the same time, reminding me of how sweet a baby he is (a reminder I needed in frustrated moments). The main line was “Go to sleep now sweet Archer”. Now his favorite song is “Patty Cake” because he likes the interactive motions.
MONKEYING AROUND: Grab him, toss him in the air, turn him upside down, blow bubbles on his belly, sling him on my back, bounce him up and down — Archer likes the very physical contact. Maybe it serves as a distraction? Or just more physical bonding? It seems to cheer him up every time.