You may have heard of the 5 S’s (Dr. Harvey Karp) in your quest to soothe your crying newborn. Swaddle, Side/Stomach, Shush, Swing, Suck. But there are more out there in case those tips don’t work. I’ve tried them all with my son and found these soothing techniques to be great alternatives.
Take a deep breath. Slow, deep breathing will calm your frazzled nerves. Infant crying is designed to trigger a stress response in the parent to ensure survival. When you hear a baby cry, your innate reaction is to respond. This kept babies alive back in the early days of human development. But it may overload your ability to function calmly. A few slow, deep breaths will relax you and allow clearer thinking. Another way that this can be done is with a low, oceanic exhale (ujjayi yoga breathing). This audible exhale is built-in white noise in your body. It calms a baby’s nervous system. They know the sound of your breathing and heartbeat from the inside and can be reassured outside of the womb. When your babe begins to fuss and cry, try taking 5 slow and deep breaths to see if you both instantly feel more at peace.
Skin to Skin. Undress your baby, unbutton the top portion of your shirt, and place them directly on your skin. This skin-to-skin contact regulates the baby’s nervous system. If you’re a lactating parent, your skin can adjust its temperature to meet their needs. It places them in close proximity to your heartbeat and breath. You can snuggle your baby while lounging in a relaxing spot or even while babywearing and getting things done around the house.
Change the scene. Go outdoors for a walk, go into a different room, change the lighting, open or close the blinds, adjust the volume of sound around you. Whatever you can do to switch it up. I find that slightly older newborns can sense when a nap is coming by the patterns we create, and they begin to fuss and fight sleep. Do you always close the blinds, turn on the white noise or sing a certain song in preparation for a nap? They know a snooze is on the horizon and may have some FOMO. By changing up the setting you may be able to lull your baby into sleep without as much fuss.
Big Movements. We typically think of babies as delicate beings, when in reality they can enjoy big, physical movements. One of my favorite techniques is using a Swiss ball (birth ball) to incorporate new movement patterns. The ball allows you to move in a supported fashion that is gentle on a postpartum body. Rock your hips in a figure 8 or bounce up and down. I personally found a deep and energetic bounce was the most soothing for my own newborn (should I thank being a fitness instructor during pregnancy for his love of deep squats and pop music?). Don’t have a Swiss ball? Not a problem. Deep lunges and squats can do the trick. Change the rhythm and depth as you move your body to lull your baby into a calm state.
Have you tried any other tricks that worked well for you? I’d love to hear them!