Crying babies and exhaustion can trigger feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, and depression in parents. Learning how to quickly calm a crying baby may help parents get more rest, feel competent and decrease the risk of postpartum depression. Crying babies can trigger feelings of frustration, anger, and anxiety. People used to have more family support, but today, often time’s parents live farther from their families. If you need help please ask a friend or neighbor. If this can’t be done, place your baby in a safe place and leave until you are calm.
Many birth professionals call the time from birth to 3 months the fourth trimester which is an incredible period of discovery for you and your baby. Read more to find out how you can bond and soothe your baby during the first three months.
The Happiest Baby on the Block was a system developed by Harvey Karp to calm and soothe an upset baby. These strategies elicited the calming reflexes – nature’s automatic shut off switch for a crying baby. There are five easy steps.
The first step is swaddling, which is the cornerstone of calming down. The easiest way to learn to swaddle is to watch this short informational video or look at the pictures below. The next step is sidelying. While the baby below is not swaddled, you can see side laying position in the arms. This position is the baby’s “feel good” position. The third step is the baby’s sound of love and safety, the SHHHHHHH sound. While in utero, your baby heard the endless “whooshing” sound in your body. Once born, these rhythmic sounds will continue to soothe. There are many ways to reproduce these sounds. The dishwasher, washing machine or a white noise machine are all sounds you can try. Singing to your infant or playing music softly can also help calm her/him. Even talking to her/him softly can do the trick – your calm voice may reassure her/him and make her/him feel safe. The third step, swinging, comforts your baby because they were used to moving around with you when they were in the womb. These gentle, rhythmic movements may help soothe. Try taking your baby for a walk in a stroller/carrier, or use an infant swing, or rocking. The last step is sucking, which Dr. Karp considers the icing on the cake of soothing. After breastfeeding is established, Dr. Karp suggests introducing a pacifier for the first four months of your infant’s life to help calm her/him when she/he is upset.
It is important to note that swaddling will not stop your baby from crying if he/she is hungry or wet. However, if you miss the initial hunger cues, swaddling will calm your baby, enough for you to nurse. For more information check out http://www.happiestbaby.com or The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Harvey Karp.