Alternative Strategy Works with Baby's Nature
by Theresa Kledzik
(Manitou Springs CO)
The typical product promoted to calm a fussy baby requires that the baby's arms be entrapped in pockets at the baby's sides. This is a restraint of baby's movements.
Although containment of wild thrashing is likely to help a baby settle, the containment should feel more like a sweet hug than a straight jacket. Consider an alternative strategy that is in harmony with baby's natural tendencies.
From an infant development perspective, a parent can take a supportive approach to help baby to help herself to calm. Baby has several ways of self-consoling with the most common being sucking, bringing hand-to-face/mouth, and grasping.
Baby is prevented from mastering these when her hands are covered in mittens or wrapped tightly at her sides (not to mention the huge benefit of exploring/learning done with her hands.
To assist baby in her own attempts, swaddle baby in a receiving blanket that supports her hands near her face and the edge of the blanket and allows her freedom of movement. She may then use her hands to grasp blanket, clothing, or ear and to simply touch her face for a sense of comfort.
The most sensitive areas of the new baby's body is the mouth, the area around the mouth and the palms of the hands. With this parenting approach, the parent is working with the baby to help her become independent in maintaining or recovering her stability/calm state. This simple difference reflects a major shift in the parents' philosophy. Rather than obliterating baby's own capabilities, the parent recognizes the infant's individuality, respects her competencies, and supports her efforts.
Theresa, RN, Infant Developmental Nurse Specialist