Picture this. It's 2am and you've just finished feeding your baby. You've burped him, changed his diaper, and as you are dressing him, he begins to cry. You sing a little tune and pick him up but on he cries, now even louder. You rock him, turn off the lights, and shush him for a few minutes until he settles and you put him back into his crib. He needs to sleep. (So do you.) But he begins to cry again and you can't soothe him with your song. You pick him up, rock and shush some more, but to no avail. The wailing continues for over an hour! By the end of it, when he has finally fallen back to sleep, you're scared to place him back into his crib so you stay awake, holding him until the next feeding.
New parents are told to "sleep when the baby sleeps." HA! If only.
Babies are born with many reflexes; crying, sneezing, coughing, etc. Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician from California, discovered all babies are also born with a "calming reflex" too. By recreating sensations experienced in the womb, you can send your baby into dreamland with the following 5 simple steps:
- Swaddle tightly
Don't be alarmed if you notice your baby seems to fuss and struggle when you start to swaddle. Swaddling is not meant to calm the baby down, but to turn off his startle (Moro) reflex and help him pay attention to the following 4 steps. Use SwaddleMe velcro blankets found at Target along with receiving blankets cut in half to make a triangle shape. Read our sleep tips and watch a video how to swaddle.
- Side-lying position
Hold your baby in the "football hold" in a side-lying position. This imitates the position he had inside the womb and turns off the startle reflex. This position is for soothing only, not for sleeping. Back is best for sleeping.
Making a loud, continuous "shhhhh" sound 2-4 inches from baby's ear will calm him almost instantly! Shhhhh as loudly as your baby cries so he can hear you. The sound inside the womb it at a level of 80-90 decibels - 2 times louder than a vacuum and the quiet outside often makes them cry. During times of sleep, use a loud white noise machine with the volume on the highest setting. I recommend Conair Sound Therapy.
- Swinging or jiggly motion
Bouncing back and forth as you pat baby between the shoulder blades turns on motion sensors in the brain that imitate what baby felt like in the womb bouncing around in the amniotic fluid. You can rock, sway or bounce - I recommend using your "birth ball."
Use a pacifier, breast or a clean finger to soothe baby into sleep mode. This alone is a strong reflex so use it to your advantage.
More tips for dealing with gas and fussiness:
- Utilize your chiropractor. Birth can be a traumatic body experience for babies and if any part of their spine is out of line, it can cause gas and fussiness and even problems with sucking and swallowing. Think about how your neck hurts after sleeping "funny" and how much an adjustment can quickly alleviate discomfort.
- Colic Calm is a homeopathic remedy found at most pharmacies that helps with gas, hiccups and upset tummies.
- Bicycling baby's legs after feedings can help release gas bubbles.
- After feedings, burp baby well and hold him upright for 15 minutes to help digestion before placing him down to sleep.
Overwhelmed? Not sure how to swaddle safely? Get your personal questions about newborn care answered with an in-home, a private lesson or by attending an upcoming group class at Intown Midwifery. I work with the team at Parent Nurture, who provide in-home instruction and postpartum support to ease your transition into parenthood. Let's talk.