Help your baby get to sleep or at least stop crying

There are some secrets to helping a baby stop crying and get to sleep. I learned many of these techniques working as a nurse at Stanford in Pediatrics and in the Pediatric ICU there, where many of my colleagues were truly “baby whisperers.”  

As a new parent, you may be confronted with a gazillion new things to learn, cope with and react to, and chances are you haven’t had many opportunities to spend a lot of time around babies and children, which makes the learning curve in the first few months super steep and at times overwhelming.  

I mean, you have to learn how to feed this little person, help them stop crying, figure out why they’re crying, figure out why you’re crying, change their diapers, get some rest, recover from childbirth and take a few photos so you can remember this magical time. Fear not, I have some tips and advice.

#1 Swaddling Works

In the first few weeks, do swaddle your baby in a nice soft blankie. Most babies like the sensation of being held close and secure, just like their experience in the womb before birth. Remember they were snuggled in tight and gently rocked gently with every one of their mom’s movements. 

Image from Kelly Sikkema from Unsplash

By swaddling with their arms down, your baby will be less likely to startle and become re-stimulated by their arm movements, accidently touching their face and other jerky movements. Swaddling induces a calming reflex, so they can get some much needed rest, and so can you.

#2 Fake It Til you Make It!

Babies can smell fear at 20 yards! They don’t like being held by people who are unsure and hesitant. So, even if you’re not calm and confident, talk to yourself and try to get yourself into a calm and centered place. Tell yourself and your baby “I love my baby and I’m going to do my best to be patient and nurturing. I’m going to take my time and enjoy all of this, the diaper changes, the feedings, all of it.

I’m pretty much a type A person, alright, a perfectionist, who likes to get a lot done. With a new baby, all of that went out the window and I had to surrender the idea of accomplishing a fraction of my to do list. I used sit in a glider, put my swaddled son on my shoulder and rock him to sleep while looking at the piles of laundry, the dishes in the sink, the unopened bills, but also taking a deep breath and repeating the mantra, “I’ll clean the house when he’s in college. I’ll clean the house when he’s in college.” 

#3 Over the shoulder rocking

Placing a baby over your shoulder so that their tummy is resting against your chest and their head in cradled near your shoulder and neck is a soothing position. The baby will feel counter pressure on their tummy and feels the vibrations from your breathing through their body. 

If you rock or walk like this the gentle up and down motions will remind them of how safe and secure they felt in the womb. Singing and talking to them helps as well, especially when it’s a man’s voice because of the deeper tones and the soothing vibrations. 

With dads, babies also love this position when their dads talk to them, as their deeper voice creates soothing vibrations for the baby.  

 #4 Bonus tip: Use Flannel 

When you use flannel sheets in their bassinet, crib or bed, they are less likely to startle awake when their little cheek touches the bedding. Cotton tends to feel cold no matter what time of year, and flannel is soft and soothing.

I hope these tips help and please let me know if you or any other baby whisperer have any other tried and true techniques to try. 

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