Calming your baby naturally

New parents are already tired enough without adding the stress and frustration that come with being unable to calm their baby.

by Sunny Wight — 

Have you ever heard a colicky baby cry? Colic is a condition that occurs when a healthy, well-fed baby frequently cries or fusses for long periods of time, sometimes hours. New parents are already tired enough without adding the stress and frustration that come with being unable to calm their baby.

As a young doctor, California pediatrician and UCLA professor, Dr. Harvey Karp, observed numerous incidences of shaken baby syndrome (SBS) that were the result of frustrated, exhausted parents or caregivers shaking colicky babies, often with tragic results. Determined to find solutions, he began researching colic and what could be done about it.

His research results and recommendations are now taught across the country by pediatricians, SBS and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) groups, and they should be routinely taught to new parents because they are not only easy, but astoundingly effective.

Using the age-old practice of swaddling, Karp discovered that sound and motion can be further incorporated to successfully mimic the womb environment and calm almost any crying baby. He calls his technique the five Ss: swaddling, sucking, side/stomach positioning, swaying and sound.

With an oversized, lightweight blanket, securely swaddle the baby (online searches can yield good swaddle techniques, or ask your pediatrician). Give the baby a pacifier (pull on it gently to help baby latch on), tip him onto his side and sway him. Then, very close to his ear, make a loud “shh” sound, which is basically a white noise.

Karp recommends using only a lightweight blanket for swaddling because SIDS is linked to overheating, and babies cannot regulate their body temperature. Interestingly, pediatricians in Australia (which has a similar climate to Arizona), routinely instruct mothers to swaddle for up to 12 months using muslin, a loose-weave cotton fabric.

More information can be found in Karp’s book, The Happiest Baby on the Block, which is also available on DVD. In addition, Arizona has many medical professionals trained to educate parents in Karp’s technique.

 

Sunny Wight makes loose-weave swaddles, and used Karp’s technique with both her children. sunnyw@solanababywear.com or 480-515-2143.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2009.

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