Comforting and soothing are part and parcel of parenting. Sadly, there’s no foolproof way to calm a fretful baby. What’s more, what works one day may not have the same effect the next. As a parent you’ll often have to switch up techniques or get creative to settle your infant. The essentials are the same for every baby- experiment until you find something that works, and use it.
Make the most of calm moments
There will be times of the day when your baby is in a good mood. Use these calm periods to explore what they love doing most. It could be playing with a specific toy or listening to you sing a particularly soothing song. Keep these things in mind next time your baby feels anxious and try using them one at a time as settling tools.
Embrace your baby’s individuality
All babies are different. And for that matter, so are all parents. Don’t be put off if advice from a friend or relative about what works for them doesn’t work for you. The relationship you have with your baby is unique. Concentrate on establishing what works best for you both. If your baby requires you to stay in the room until they falls asleep, then so be it. There’s no harm in spending that extra few minutes together if it means a better night’s sleep for all of you.
See the bigger picture
Sometimes it’s hard to find an obvious reason for a baby’s agitation such as hunger, tiredness or a dirty nappy. At times like this, it’s worth remembering that their little minds and bodies are constantly developing. What’s upsetting them could be something as momentous as a growth spurt, the start of teething, or even a developmental leap. It’s a lot for a little baby to cope with and it’s no wonder they’ll need a little extra attention.
Swaddle your baby
A tried and tested method to calm your baby, swaddling is super soothing for babies, and a must-have skill for parents. The reason it is so effective is because the warmth of being wrapped up tightly reminds babies of the safety of their mother’s womb. Swaddling is usually the first thing learned by parents, shortly after the birth of the child, but there are a few crucial things to keep in mind to make sure you are swaddling properly so you can soothe your baby with safety.
Always lay baby on their back
A swaddled baby should only be laid on their back to avoid any breathing difficulties
Don’t swaddle once baby starts to roll
Once baby’s start being able to roll over by themselves, the chance of them rolling over while swaddled and getting tangled up increases
Keep the hips loose
Swaddling too tightly, especially in the lower body, can cause complications in the long term including hip dysplasia
Keep an eye on temperature
Make sure your baby does not get uncomfortably warm while being swaddled
From the first time they are breastfed, babies soothe themselves by sucking, as it is strongly associated with safety and being fed. This natural suckling reflex can be used to stop a crying baby. If it’s time for a feed, breastfeeding or bottle feeding will allow them to suckle to their hearts delight. If it isn’t feeding time however, they can suckle on other things for the same soothing effect. An age-appropriate, high-quality pacifier is often a mom’s best friend, as it allows babies to experience the soothing suckling sensation outside of feeding times. Just make sure that your baby’s pacifiers are made without harmful chemicals, and are kept clean and sanitary at all times. Aside from pacifiers, babies can suck on their own thumbs/fingers – while it may be a problem later in life, for a baby it is a perfectly natural self-soothing method so try not to discourage them too enthusiastically.
Soothe with White Noise
In many cases, babies are upset because of distressing or excessive noise in their surroundings. In these cases, white noise can be used to create a peaceful, distraction free atmosphere. White noise is simply a sound encompassing multiple frequencies, that blocks out other frequencies and noises by blanketing them. It can be used to prevent eavesdropping, to help adults and babies fall asleep, or to stop a crying baby. Specialized white noise generators are available, but you can also play white noise through any speaker or headphone systems through a specialized white noise generating app or any of the numerous recordings available. Make sure not to set the volume so high that it bothers you or the baby. It is not recommended to use headphones or earphones for baby as they may get tangled up in any wires or swallow any small pieces – instead use a stand-alone white noise machine or play it through your music system or computer speakers.
Wash away the tears
If you’re trying to stop a crying baby from crying, and you notice that they are not only making noise but are actually shedding tears, you can actually calm your baby simply by wiping and washing away their tears. Studies have shown that tears often contain neurotransmitters and hormones associated with feelings of distress in both adults and babies – meaning when we cry, we are literally removing the chemicals that are causing us to feel poorly out of our systems. That is why getting rid of tears after a cry feels good sometimes, for both adults and babies. The act of wiping away tears from a baby also reassures them that they are looked after, safe and secure, and enhances closeness with mom, which is often a great way to soothe your baby. This gentle act of care resonates deeply with your baby’s growing mind, and can put them at ease.
Sing a song
We all had our favourite lullabies as babies and children, often passed down from generation to generation, and there’s a simple reason for that – they work. Gentle, repeating rhythms and soft, soothing sounds are often all it takes for a baby to forget what their troubles are, as they pay attention to a familiar melody or voice with all their concentration. Especially when sung by mom, the added benefit of having a familiar voice to hold on to is extra reassuring to your baby’s ears. Combine by rocking them gently, or taking them in your arms and singing softly to them. Babies can recognize certain melodies and words, even if they don’t understand them, so they may have a favourite lullaby or song. While being sang to is preferable, even recorded songs, as long as they are gentle, soothing and repetitive can help baby calm down just as well.
Sometimes, the best way to get your baby’s mind off what’s bothering them is a change of scenery and some fresh air. Take your baby outside for a while for a change of pace and scenery. In combination with fresh air, the different scenery can captivate your baby and take their mind away from distress. If you go for a walk around your neighbourhood, the motion of being held while walking can help you soothe your baby in addition to the act of being outside. Remember that different babies often have different preferences – some babies love being outside in the peace and quiet of nature, while some love the motion of being in a moving car. For some baby’s, simply opening up a window and letting in some fresh air and outside noises may be enough. Just try different things until you find what works for your baby, and let them enjoy their favorite scenery when they get distressed.
Sometimes a cry is just a cry
There’s no foolproof trick to soothe a fussy baby. Even the most experienced parents will admit that there are times when babies just cry no matter what you do. Babies cry more from birth to 4 months than at any other time of their lives , and often seemingly without reason. All you can do is provide them with a pair of loving arms and ride out the early weeks. It may not seem like it at the time, but this phase will soon pass.
Please be aware that the information given in these articles is only intended as general advice and should in no way be taken as a substitute for professional medical advice. If you or your family or your child is suffering from symptoms or conditions which are severe or persistent or you need specific medical advice, please seek professional medical assistance. Philips AVENT cannot be held responsible for any damages that result from the use of the information provided on this website.
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