Game Changer – A Simple Technique To Soothe Your Baby
Some years ago I had a call from the distraught father of a very young baby. He said he and his wife were at their wits end because their baby slept little and cried a lot. Every time they put him down he cried. I went to their home to see if I could help. Sure enough when I went in, mum was pacing with a crying baby in her arms. I took him from her, wrapped him tightly in a blanket, held him upright with his head on my shoulder, moved back and fore slowly and gently and BREATHED DEEPLY BUT GENTLY. Within moments he had stopped crying, a few minutes and he was sound asleep. I gave him a few more minutes to be sure he was well asleep. I then put him in his crib by holding him to my body until the very last moment when I had him almost lying down. I then kept my hands on him for a few more moments before covering him with a blanket.
All this time his Mum and Dad sat on the sofa looking at me with their mouths open. Then Mum said ‘You were very firm with him’. I told her ‘Yes I was. Babies need the reassurance that YOU are in charge. Hold them closely to you and they feel safe. If they can feel that transition from you to the crib they don’t like it, so keep a firm touch on them until you can put a blanket over them to take the place of your body’.
I’ve had lots of opportunities to help stressed parents and screaming babes, in café’s and on planes! But make no mistake, I am not a ‘baby whisperer’. There’s no special magic to this, the key is to BREATHE, slowly and deeply. Calm your body, which will calm your mind, which will calm your baby. Babies absorb the energy around them. That’s not a new-age-y mantra either. Think about how you feel walking into a room with a person who’s high-strung, stressed out and ready to explode. No words have to be exchanged for your body to respond to that situation.
If there are occasions when this and every other technique you’ve tried is driving you to your limit, (combine sleep deprivation with a multitude of other stress factors, it happens), give the baby to someone else if possible. If you are on your own, leave the baby in a safe place, go into another room and yell, scream, shout, cry, pound some pillows, anything to help get that tension out of your body. Then try the deep breathing again, make a very deliberate effort to relax your body. When you feel calmer, go back to your baby and try again. You haven’t failed, you’re doing the very best you can and sometimes losing your sh!t is all just part of the experience. I’m with you. It’s ok Mama.
More: If you would like some further insight into self-regulation techniques for older children (also helpful for adults), you might enjoy the work of Dr Becky Bailey, founder of Conscious Discipline Here’s a short video on the basics, Feeling Buddies
Written by: Juliet McDonald E.C.E
Photo Credit: Leyla Boyd Stein