Babies cry...a lot...and for many different reasons. After all, this is the only way they can communicate with us. While I was pregnant, I heard at least a dozen times that parents will "just know" what it means when their baby is crying, but I never truly believed it. I can honestly say it is surprisingly true 90% of the time, once you get used to one another. By the end of the first month I could tell the difference between my little man's hungry cry, messy/wet diaper cry, tired cry, bored cry, and the "I don't like this!!!" cry. But then there were those times when I covered all the basics and there really was no specific reason why. Like the rest of us they just need a good cry from time to time. So when that happens I just do my best to console him with a little TLC. The following baby-friendly relaxation techniques work like a charm for my little pumpkin.
I discovered very early that keeping moving was the key to calming baby down. This could be rocking in a chair, walking, swaying side to side, bouncing gently, or activities like taking a walk in the stroller or going for a car ride. I must say I tried the car ride trick a couple times but it was not very effective for us and usually resulted in him getting more upset and rushing back home. His favorites seemed to be the gentle rhythmic movements like walking around, swaying back and forth, and bouncing. Incidentally this provided a great amount of mommy's exercise in the beginning!
We did a lot of experimenting in this category too since sounds seemed to have be pretty effective in calming him down. We tried soft music, white noise apps, singing, and shushing. Now at first I felt rude shushing baby boy when he was crying and you know he really can't help it, but then I noticed that my soft "shhhhhh" sounds were soothing to him and worked best out of all these. I've read that it mimics the sounds they hear in the womb and is comforting to them.
I feel so blessed to have a little cuddle-bug on my hands! This method worked best when he was tired or not feeling well, he loved to be held then and sometimes wrapped up loosely in a soft blanket. Loosely is the keyword here, swaddling however was a big no-go once we came home from the hospital and he discovered that he could stretch out.
I found a lot of different ways that touch could be used to soothe my little guy other than just holding him close. I tried lots of simple yet effective techniques such as holding his hand, lightly stroking his arms and legs, (carefully) rubbing his head, gently patting his back, and rubbing his back in a slow circular motion. Much like how adults go for massages to relax, babies can enjoy them too on a smaller scale. I found this guide by Baby Center that was easy to follow and worked very well.
I hate to brag, but once again I am blessed with a baby who LOVES his bath time. And since he does enjoy it so much I have taken advantage of this fact when he has been unhappy from time to time. I notice him immediately start to calm down as soon as the water turns on. Part of my wonders if this has to do with a connection between us...I have always found the sound of water to be very soothing. Then by time we are done bathing and splashing around he typically is his giggly, happy self again.
Aromatherapy is one method that I have not experimented with too much yet, but am anxious to. It is important here to make sure that the oils/lotions being used are safe if they are going to come in contact with baby's delicate skin. I personally am nervous about applying them topically, especially since my little guy seems to have inherited my sensitive skin so diffusing them into the room is my preferred method. Lavender is a popular pick for an overall calming affect.
I have had to use a combination of these to dry those big crocodile tears like:
- Walking around the house, bouncing up and down, singing nursery rhymes.
- Holding his hand, rocking in the chair, listening to white noise.
- Giving him a massage with lavender baby lotion after his bath.
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