happiest baby on the block

C is for Crying

Crying babe.jpg

You’re having a baby, and they’re going to cry; that's a good thing! An infants primary mode of communicating their feelings and needs is by using the primal cry of their voice. They exercise this form of communication from the first moments after birth, until they are articulate enough to formulate their needs into gestures and language. 

So…how do I make it stop? 

First: breath. Crying can trigger an anxious response in mothers (especially, often moreso than fathers; it just seems to be a maternal wiring aimed and nurturing and protecting our offspring.) Approaching our baby with frustration or anxiety will only add to their upset, and nobody wins. 

Second: assess. You’ll get better over time, because like any new relationship, you’re getting to your baby, while learning to interpret the cries and cues of your baby, becoming more attuned with each passing day. Some of the most typical reasons for crying in a new infant are: hunger, tiredness, discomfort (a dirty diaper), and pain or sickness (teething or a cold). 

So how can you soothe a crying baby who’s needs have been met? 

Our favourite resource for baby-calming, is Dr. Harvey Karp’s 5 S’s of for Soothing Babies. 

Karp believes that the ‘mystery’ of colicy babies isn’t really a mystery at all. He attributes the fussiness of the first three months to what is often referred to as “The Fourth Trimester”, and that babies during this phase of life, are best soothed and calmed by mimicking the environment of the womb. These womb-like, calming sensations are:

Swaddling

Swaddling mimics the compressed and cozy nature of the womb. Swaddling your baby decreases the startle reflex, and helps calm baby enough for the other 4 S’s to be most effective. 

Side or Stomach Position

Holding your swaddled baby on their side or stomach, either over your arm or shoulder, is the most soothing position for them to be rocked and comforted. 

Shush

The womb was not a quiet place! The sound of blood rushing through your body, the hum of your voice and the noises surrounding, all contributed to a fairly noisy environment for your baby to become accustomed to. White noise in their room, or a loud and constant “sshhhh” sound as you hold and rock your swaddled baby, will be soothing to their ears. 

Swing

Fast, tiny ‘swinging’ movements of your baby mimics the jiggling and moving around they experienced int the womb. While you keep the head and neck supported, you can jiggle the baby in about 1 inch movements while their body relaxes into your arms. 

Suck

Baby’s are apt to relax from sucking, either from a pacifier, breast, or bottle. If your baby has been fed and you don’t desire keeping your breast in their mouth to pacify them, a pacifier can be the cherry on top to soothe your baby to sleep. 

Remember that this will take time…while this method is effective, every baby is different. You WILL learn the subtleties of what your baby prefers and how they respond to the soothing approach you take. Practice will improve your ability to soothe your baby, and remember to always listen to the voice of intuition. You will become the expert on your baby, and nobody else can be that for them.

Check out this link for more information on the 5's and Karps' book, "The Happiest Baby on the Block".

 

Top Pick Tuesdays - The Best Techniques To Soothe a Fussy Baby

When it comes to calming a fussy baby, you’re likely to get all kinds of suggestions, some helpful, some not, and probably a huge variety of one-off ideas that fall under the category of, “this is what worked for me”. 

What we have found to be consistently effective though, are “The 5 S’s for Soothing Babies”, that are the foundational points in Dr. Harvey Karp’s book:  “The Happiest Baby on the Block”. 

Time and time again, these 5 simple rules for calming a fussy baby are incredibly effective, so much that we needed to share them with you! 

The basic premise of Karp’s theory is based on the idea that babies are born with the need for a 4th trimester - an additional three months on the outside (give or take), that mimics what they experienced on the inside for the last 9 months. These 5 S’s will almost always quickly calm a fussy baby within minutes, unless there is another medical or physiological issue that needs to be addressed.

 

The 5 S’s are:

 

1st S - Swaddle

Your baby has been tightly packed in the womb for 9 cozy months. Recreating this environment through swaddling helps calm their startle reflex and stay soothed longer. It’s important to keep their arms wrapped tightly, and the hips loose and flexed, and just during fussy times or for sleep. 

2nd S - Side or Stomach Position

Baby’s are often fussiest on their backs, and while this is the safest position for putting them down to sleep, your best bet to calm them down is holding them on their side with their tummy to you, or over your shoulder with their tummy against your chest. 

3rd S - Shush

The womb is far from being a silent sleep sanctuary. The whooshing of your blood and pumping of your heart has been lulling your baby to sleep her entire life. Karp has specially engineered sounds he recommends for helping infants sleep, and also suggests that simply a loud “ssssh” sound close to their ear while they are swaddled and held will help them relax. 

4th S - Swing

Rocking to sleep all your baby knows up until now. Your walking, dancing, stair climbing - every movement you made while baby was in utero, is still comforting and familiar to baby earth-side. Karp recommends small, quick movements no more than 1 inch back and forth while you are holding and ‘sshhing’ your swaddled baby. This is very different from shaking your baby out of frustration; be sure that you are always soothing your baby while being calm yourself.

5th S - Suck

Babies are born with the reflex to suck, not only for nutrition, but for soothing. This isn’t always a necessary component for calming a baby, but nursing or sucking on a soother can definitely be the tipping point to lull your baby to full relaxation and sleep. 

 

It’s important to try and remember that these don’t need to be seen as “crutches”, or “bad habits” that you’ll need to break down the line. Baby’s will naturally become more efficient at self-soothing and self-regulating as they grow and adapt to this new environment; needing help getting there is all a part of the process of adjusting to life on the outside. 

Make sure to watch this video for a glimpse into the 5 S method, and check out Harvey Karp’s Book here, for a more complete explanation of his method. These techniques take practice and time; give it a chance and let us know how it worked (or didn’t work) for you!