The thing about babies is, they cry.
Sometimes it’s an easy fix: He’s hungry. She wants a fresh diaper. He’s tired. She’s overstimulated, too warm, too cold. But sometimes all these needs are met, and baby is still crying. For new parents figuring things out as they go – often on very little sleep – this can be frustrating indeed. In time you will learn your baby’s unique cues and get to be very good at determining how to respond, and in time your baby will get better at telling you. But in the meantime, I want to share with you the magic of the “5 S’s,” which got me through one newborn stage with my sanity and are now carrying me through another.
Recommended by such names as Dr. Phil and Harvey Karp, author of Happiest Baby on the Block, the 5 S’s are helpful techniques for parents to know.
Suck: Infants are hungry more often than not, so it’s always a good idea to offer a fussy baby the breast or bottle as a first step. But even if she’s not hungry, your baby might find great comfort in sucking, so offering a clean finger or pacifier can help her relax and calm down. What you should know about using a pacifier.
Swaddle: Swaddling can soothe your baby by providing him with the secure feeling he enjoyed in the womb before birth. His arms will be tucked in, preventing the startle reflex, which can restart the cycle of crying and fussing. (Some babies prefer not to be swaddled; in this case try substituting Skin to Skin time in which your warmth and heartbeat perform wonders to settle your baby.)
Side or Stomach: Newborns seem to feel more content on their side or tummy, and this position can also help to soothe a gassy tummy. Always hold your baby in this position (she should be placed on her back for sleeping).
Shush: Contrary to popular belief, newborns don’t need silence. In utero your baby has enjoyed constant white noise from mom’s blood flow. Simply say “shhh” into your baby’s ear at around the same volume that he is crying. As he quiets, so do you. You can also add a noise machine or cd of white noises to play as your baby falls asleep. We love our Sleep Sheep!
Swing: Before birth, your baby was often rocked and jiggled in utero. That makes this motion comforting to her now. Support your baby’s head and gently jiggle (do not shake) her, moving no more than an inch in any direction. My babies love the motion of posting (a horseback riding motion I’ve adapted to do on the ground with babe in arms)!
Harvey Karp suggests that the most success will come from employing all 5 techniques at once, but play around with them and find what works best for your baby. My son preferred to be up by my shoulder while I bounced and tapped his bum, while my daughter loves the “shh”ing noise combined with cradling her on her side in my arms and swinging… and bouncing… while walking….. Of course, the winning order/combination could change from hour to hour, but having these go-to soothing tools can make all the difference for you and your little one.