You are home with your brand new baby. You and your significant other took courses, read books, made sure you had purchased all the ‘right’ baby equipment. You set up the nursery, interviewed pediatricians – and perhaps met a few.
You’ve talked with lots of moms about classes for babies and, while in the hospital, many well-intentioned professionals came by to talk to you about breast feeding vs. formula, caring for your brand new baby, when to call the doctor – and gave you some helpful tips.
You read about the developmental milestones and know that you have many resources for learning more – including talking to your pediatrician.
So… now you are home! Most information you were told, you forgot. This is common. Parents come home with a newborn and all they can think about is how in love they are with this tiny, beautiful, cuddly baby and want to hold and look at their new treasure. The most amazing person just entered your life, and you are overwhelmed with love!
It is fine if you don’t remember a thing – after all, you want to enjoy and have fun with your precious baby. Remember: babies get hungry, wet their diapers, sometimes are cold or gassy, and love to be held. Your baby will let you know if she needs you.
Crying usually means that your baby is hungry, needs a diaper change or something hurts. Crying could also could mean that he is having a difficult time going to sleep, sleeping in a crib for the first time, or perhaps she can’t find her pacifier or find her fingers to soothe herself. Check to see what she needs.
It can be a very stressful time for new parents when you can’t seem to calm your baby down. Think about what comforts a crying baby – anywhere, anytime or anyplace – and you will probably come up with the answer.
Babies love to cuddle and love movement, so some great ways to help soothe them if they are upset might be to hold and sway and hum with your baby. Sometimes swaddling your baby, touching and gently stroking your baby is effective. Help your baby to find something to suck on – like a pacifier, her fingers, a breast or a bottle.
When you hold your baby, it is a good idea to hold him on his side – a very calming position.
I don’t think you can ‘spoil’ a fussy baby. Your baby is upset and needs to be calmed down and feel secure in your arms. Eventually, after a lot of singing, holding, swaddling, touching and sucking, your baby should calm down.
As a parent, a grandparent, and as a child development and education specialist, my experience has shown that most babies can be comforted within a short time. If you can’t calm your baby, you should call your pediatrician to see what she/he suggests. Your pediatrician may ask you questions and might want to see your new baby.
In her book, Premature Infants and Their Families, M.Virginia Wyly discusses “infant signals” – or ways in which babies will “tell” you how they are feeling. The following is a guideline that can help you give your baby what she needs, and so you can enjoy this amazing time with your new little one:
Signals often meaning ‘I feel content’
- Relaxed arms, legs, and facial expressions
- Smooth movements
- Looking around
- Alert and cooing and almost smiling
Signals often meaning ‘I am soothing myself’
- Sucking on fingers or hands, or searching for them
- Sucking on pacifier
- Clasping hands together
- Grasping something
- Tucking into corners of the isolette or other boundaries
Signals often meaning ‘I feel stressed, please help’
- Frowning or grimacing
- Flailing arms or legs, spreading fingers apart
- Crying and fussing
- Staring or glassy-eyed alertness
- Averting gaze or suddenly falling asleep
- Arching back and neck
Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to help parents learn how to comfort and calm their babies when they are having ‘fussy’ times. It is not intended replace speaking to your child’s doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional about your child’s discomfort or pain.
Patty Weiner is a mother and grandmother whose career spans over thirty-five years as a child life specialist, an educator, a child and family advocate and a health education specialist. She served as the Director of Child Life and Education Services at North Shore- Long Island Jewish Medical Center and was the founding Director of the Master’s Degree program in Child Life at Bank Street College of Education in New York. Patty is presently an educational and child life consultant practicing in Manhattan; an educational consultant for The Making Headway Foundation, a not-for -profit organization dedicated to children with brain and spinal cord tumors and their families; and a graduate school mentor in the Child Life program at Bank Street College. Patty’s work has been presented in a variety of professional forums and publications. She recently wrote a book, Taking Your Child To The Doctor or Hospital: Helpful Suggestions and Practical Tips to Make Your Child’s Visit More Comfortable.
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