Tuesday, November 11, 2014

baby black magic

Since I found out I was pregnant, I have been a research junkie. Scratch that: I've always been addicted to research. We live in an amazing time with the Internet, where we have access to so much more than just one or two mainstream books to guide us through this terrifying adventure that is called parenting. You are no longer merely a good mom or a bad mom, you are a helicopter, attachment, Parisian, Babywise, baby whispering, or tiger mom. I happened upon some great reviews of this book, The Happiest Baby on the Block, and I loved the practical nature of Dr. Harvey Karp's advice. It is a short and simple method for calming a baby, and it is packaged in a way that even a sleep deprived and stressed out mother can remember.

The situation is this: your 0-4 month old baby is fed, changed, burped, and not gassy, but she is still screaming uncontrollably. This is especially dangerous for women who are predisposed to postpartum depression, as it is exhausting and frustrating. Karp talks about a "calming reflex," activated by sensory inputs that are similar to the womb environment. The inputs are neatly arranged into a 5-step practice:

Swaddle the baby tightly; she will be even madder if it's a loose fit!

2. SIDE (or stomach)
Hold the baby on her side or stomach.

Either jiggle the baby quickly or swing her in your arms. (Jiggling is not the same as shaking; you want the baby to look relaxed, not give her whiplash!)

Make a SHHHHH sound near the baby's ear. The sound of blood in the womb is as loud as a vacuum cleaner, so the quietness of this world is overwhelming! If you get tired and feel faint or dizzy, grab a white noise app or turn a radio to static.

Give the baby a pacifier or one of your fingers. Everly particularly likes my knuckles and the soft part below my thumb.

The key is to match the baby's intensity. If she is screaming, the swaddle has to be really snug, the SHH has to be really loud, and the swinging has to be distracting (as opposed to a rocking chair).

Here's a video (terrible quality, sorry) of me using this method to stop Everly's post-dinner crying. Unless something is wrong (needs to burp, gassy, hungry), this works every time.

Everett refers to this method as "the baby black magic", and I agree. Check out the book for yourself and let me know what you think!

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