In Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (affiliate link), Weissbluth talks about four different ways you can soothe a child even to the point of sleep. I will discuss these here from a Babywise perspective.
He starts off on page 67 with sucking. “Anything you can do to encourage your baby to suck will help soothe her. Offering the breast, bottle, pacifier, finger, or wrist usually helps calm your baby” (page 67).
So what do I think of each of those items? I think everything other than the food sources are great. I think it is interesting that Weissbluth suggests the bottle, because he soon after comments that “Many babies with extreme fussiness/colic suck more than they need to and spit up a lot” (page 67).
Weissbluth references two books he finds fallible in the sucking department. One I assume is the No Cry Sleep Solution, which I haven’t read, so I can’t comment on his comments. The other I assume is Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Hogg. He says the claims of both of these books that falling asleep while eating will cause a problem falling asleep on own is incorrect.
Weissbluth repeatedly claims that what and when a baby eats has no impact on when and how a baby sleeps (though he does make statements against this later on), and I of course have many, many disagreements with that idea. Weissbluth himself obviously has a few since he discusses them in his book.
Even in this section, he says to feed a hungry baby, sleep a tired baby, soothe a fussy baby (page 68), so to me this advice is going against the advice that feeding a tired baby to sleep is okay.
Anyway, sucking can be a good way to soothe a fussy baby and some babies will fall asleep much easier if sucking on something.
This section is short and straight forward. Rocking can be a good way to soothe a baby. Rocking chair, infant carrier, car rides, swaying, etc. Some like it slow and gentle while others like it bouncy and fast.
Do keep in mind Hogg’s claim that rocking can highly overstimulate a baby. I have found this to be true. I like to avoid rocking if the baby is calm, but I do find rocking to be highly natural and very much a part of the intuition of all parents, so I don’t cross it off of my list altogether. I rock if baby is upset and needs soothing.
I think that some adults have better ways of soothing, also. For example, I have one way that I could get my babies to fall asleep in my arms. That same method works on my friend’s babies, even when my friends don’t use that way.
My husband has an aunt that always held her fussy babies laying on her forearm with the face in her hand. I had read about that way, but it did not work for Brayden. Well guess what? He loved that position with her. So don’t be afraid to do what is natural to you.
Oh I love the swaddle. But in this section, Weissbluth gets on the bandwagon with Karp in that perhaps we humans are born earlier than we “should” be because of the whole evolution thing…you know how I feel about that…so let’s just leave it at swaddling is awesome and you can see the swaddling posts on this blog for more on why I love it :).
The fourth idea from Weissbluth for soothing a baby is massage. He says it is neither a gimmick nor a cure for fussy babies, though it will soothe babies. One thing he points out that I like is that massaging is beneficial to parent and baby. It can be a fun activity together and differnet from the feeding and diaper changing. He says he likes to recommend it to fathers to give them some bonding time with the young infants.
If you are going to try infant massage, be sure you read a book, take a class, or watch a video about it. I am sure there are videos on youtube. I know there is some info on it in Hogg’s books.
There are lots of ways to soothe a baby when in need. These are four main ways from Weissbluth. Stick them in your bag of tricks, but keep in mind ideas from Hogg to avoid things getting too far so that you have an overstimulated baby.
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