Updated: Feb 21
OK, I get it. You desperately need your baby to stop crying and fussing. Maybe they're teething, maybe they're colicky or maybe they're just so tired and cranky that they can't calm down and fall asleep no matter what you do.
Since I've been a child care provider for 38 years, I've gotten pretty good with a fussy baby. I'll be the first one to admit however that each and every baby is different and there are times that we just won't be able to figure them out. The key is to use persistence and open-mindedness to get to know them better each day you're together.
The thing that works the best for me with a fussy (not sick) baby is to think about myself for a bit. It's truly hard to think about anything else when that Wah! Wah! pedal is stuck in the on position but stop and do something completely rational for a minute. It'll help.
The loving caregiver actually helps the baby more by doing what they can to calm themselves. Your baby definitely picks up on your vibes and it's common for babies and caregivers to feed on each other's stress levels. Not good.
So what do I do? I either put the baby gently down somewhere safe like their crib or I use my one available hand to pick out my favorite music and get it started.
Silly waste of time? Maybe but just wait, it gets even sillier!
Then I pick up the baby and I dance...or move to the music in any way I feel comfortable. You can do this too and believe me, it helps.
See if you can enjoy the music in your own way. I'm not talking about kid's music either, I'm talking about playing what you want to hear.
This can be really amazing for several developmental reasons besides calming the caregiver down.
Children respond to rhythm. Their bodies will actually crave it and seek it out as they develop! Most toddlers dance without ever really being shown how. This is one way they develop their proprioceptive skills.
Some babies respond better to auditory cues, while some are more tuned in to visual or physical cues. Music can provide all three. For the visual cues, make sure to move around from place to place, letting them see different views of the world like lighter or darker rooms as you move or sway to the music. You could even try going outside and taking your music with you.
You'll get more and more used to watching your baby and noticing everything about the way they respond to what's going on. Some like to be held much closer, some need dark and some need you to sing quietly in their little ears. As long as you're open to figuring them out, they'll provide you with many, many clues.
Just being the type of person who seeks the best for their child puts you in the position of being a really great parent. Keep up the good work!
If you're a tired Mom or other loving caregiver looking to find some more energy to be your best for your family, you might like some of my posts about food or sleep. Here's one about High Energy Snacks for tired moms and their kids called Energy Boosting Snacks Here's another about ER (Energy Resources) for Tired Moms
If you're a loving caregiver who needs more sleep, read this.
Nanci J. Bradley is an author and an educator
She runs a child development home in Madison WI
She has 38 years experience with young children and families
She has a BA in education and a MA in human development
She is the CEO and founder of Paradox Healthy Living who's mission is to improve the energy and health of Moms and other loving caregivers