Calming Your Baby
By Vicki Thrasher Cronin
Licensed Parent Educator, Pre-K Teacher
Within moments of a baby’s birth the first cry is heard and it elicits both the joy of the moment and the urgent parental care taking response, “Let me soothe that baby, shhhh, it’s ok, shhhh.” Your baby’s cry is designed to elicit an urgent response from you. It’s your baby’s key to survival. Around the world, adults have an immediate head-turning, eyebrow-raising need to do something in response to a baby’s cry. In the early weeks with your new baby, you and he will develop a special language, an interpretation of his cries: an understanding that allows you insider information about your baby’s preferences for feeding, diapering, holding and swaddling. Each baby is unique, and like you, your baby will have certain ways he wants to be cared for and comforted. You will be his expert.
There are many things to consider as you are learning to respond to your baby’s distress, but the first is to learn to read your baby’s cues. Even brand new babies have their ways of letting you know what they like: how they mold into your arms, the angle they like while being fed, sucking their fists and rubbing their eyes all carry a message for you. In the early weeks keep a journal about your baby and write down everything your baby does. Soon you will discover the patterns and messages in your baby’s cues.
Soon you will predict what your baby will need next and not just because your baby will begin to develop a schedule, but because you will be able to “read” the cues your baby has for you. It is in these cues that you will learn that you can prevent your baby from becoming over-stimulated, too hungry, over-tired or just plain overwhelmed. In fact, these early weeks are an important training ground for parents: These are the weeks of getting to know who this little person is. This is the time of discovery about this person’s preferences, what makes him tick. You are your baby’s first and most important teacher and life coach. Getting to know your baby is the key to helping him learn how to adapt to his life out here in the big world; your baby will learn to self-regulate through you.
Your baby will let you know what he likes, and what he doesn’t. During these first few months focus your calming efforts around prevention and learning preferences and building trust in yourself to be able to soothe your baby. In the beginning, you will find that it takes a lot of trial and error to develop the experiences you need to read and define your baby’s cues. During this same time, your baby is practicing cue-giving and learning which ones have the best results! Together you will become a team for life, with life-long connections to each other, each of you knowing the other in a very special way.