Your baby’s first days out in the world are a rude awakening. Life is quite different from the snug, aquatic environment of your uterus. Conventional wisdom says a newborn needs quiet and gentle handling. But imagine how strange it is to come into a world where everyone is tiptoeing around you after all the sounds and movement in the womb, says Harvey Karp, MD, creator of the DVD and book, The Happiest Baby on the Block.
The challenge is to replicate the womb environment. Harvey Karp, M.D. has come up with five techniques—all of which moms intuitively use—that do so. Using them together is most effective. So start practicing!
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Wrapping your baby like a little burrito satisfies his longing for the tight fit of your uterus. Swaddling also controls jerky, reflexive movements that can lead to crying. Swaddling a baby at night can help him sleep longer (just make sure he doesn’t get overheated; check that his neck and ears aren’t sweaty.)
2. Side (or stomach) position
Putting a fussy baby down on his back or holding him lying on his back makes him feel like he’s falling, setting off a startle, which leads to more crying. Holding your baby positioned on her side or stomach is calming. However, always put your baby to sleep on her back.
A loud, harsh shh is music to baby’s ears. It mimics the whooshing sound of your blood flow that your baby heard in the womb. This is also why many parents find that the humming “white noise” of a vacuum cleaner or hair dryer works to stop their baby’s cries.
Newborns are like sailors that come to do dry land after nine months at sea, says Dr. Karp. The stillness of lying in a soft, motionless crib can drive them crazy. Rhythmic, vigorous motion has an almost hypnotic effect. Automatic swings, bouncy seats, car rides, rocking your baby, or walking with her are all soothing. “Wearing” your baby in a sling also gives her the feeling of motion as you go about your daily tasks.
Offer your baby a nipple, bottle, or pacifier to suck on. It releases natural calming chemicals in your baby’s brain.