According to Dr. Sears, a renowned baby expert and proponent of attachment parenting, there are four basic things you can try to calm babies down. Of course, any frustrated parent will tell you that they’ve probably tried four hundred things, but chances are every one of them involved one or more of these four basic elements:
- Close physical contact and touching. More than anything else, the average baby craves close physical contact, preferably with mom or dad. Anything that you can do to put baby closer to you for longer periods will generally result in less fussiness from baby. One of the best ways to keep baby close while still being able to do other things is to use a baby sling. This holds baby right next to you, where she feels most secure, and gives you the freedom top use your hands for something else.
- Visual distractions and stimulation. If you’ve ever waved a toy or something else in front of a fussy baby, hoping to divert her attention from whatever she is fussing about, you’ve used a visual distraction. When babies are fussy this can be a great way to help them calm down, provided they’re not fussy because they’re tired. It a baby is already tired, stimulating her with more interesting things to see will only compound the problem.
- Soothing sounds. We’re all familiar with the lullaby. But soothing sounds for a baby, and especially a newborn, can go beyond this. Use white noise to help calm babies. This can come in the form of actual white noise machines or CDs/mp3s that you can play for baby, or you can simply turn on a fan or the vacuum cleaner to produce the monotone noises that help babies relax.
- Rhythmic motion. This is why so many babies fall asleep in swings (incidentally, not a good idea to leave them there long after they’ve fallen asleep) or on car rides. Other examples of rhythmic motion that babies respond well to are rocking and gently dancing with them.
You have to give it to the doctor on this one. He’s right. Everything we do to soothe our babies falls into one or more of these categories. And when they’re especially fussy, it isn’t unusual for us to try as many combinations as you can possibly squeeze out of four basic methods.