Soothing with the Senses

A crying baby can be one of the hardest things to deal with as a new parent, especially when you don't know how to soothe your child. Tricia O'Brien, Features Editor for American Baby, offers some advice on how to use the senses to calm your baby.

To help soothe using sound, you need to recreate the sounds of the womb. Your child spent nine months listening to things, like your voice, from inside and quiet can be unsettling to him. Droning noises like a vacuum, an aquarium pump, the washing machine and music can be used to help calm your baby.

Sometimes when your baby is upset, she may just be bored and in need of stimulation. Distractions can be used to take her focus off of what's bothering her. Funny faces, holding your baby up to your shoulder, letting her watch a ceiling fan or mobile can help stimulate her visually. But beware, your child can also have TOO much stimulation. If that's the case, she just needs to be in her crib with the lights dimmed where she can cry for a bit.

Touch is an easy way of soothing your baby. She spent 9 months feeling cozy and safe in the womb, so she loves being cuddled and swaddled. Your baby will also like motion, because she was used to you moving. Try a gentle massage with baby oil, carrying her in a front carrier or taking her for a drive in the car.

The sucking reflex is hardwired into an infant's brain. It's very soothing and helps her release tension, even after she's gotten the milk she needs. Baby's cries may mean she's hungry, so nurse or offer a bottle. And if she isn't hungry, offer a pacifier.

And finally, smell can also help an upset baby. Babies love the scent of mom and can recognize her smell. Cuddle your baby close to your skin and let her take in your scent. Also try exposing your child to calming aromas like lavender and vanilla.

For more on how to soothe your child and other parenting tips, please click here.
by Jenn Eaker and Tricia O'Brien