0 - 12 Weeks

5 co-regulation tips for calming your baby

Mother snuggling with a baby

A crying or fussy baby can be really hard, especially if there isn’t a clear explanation for their crying. Once you’ve ensured that your baby doesn’t need to be burped, fed, or diapered, a few co-regulating techniques may help them settle down.

Co-regulation means using your own calm voice and touch to soothe your baby. Finding what works can take some time and experimenting—something that helped yesterday may not work today—so be patient and gentle with yourself as you figure it out.

Note: If you feel yourself getting frustrated, put your baby down in a safe place (like a crib) and take a moment or two to calm yourself before trying again. (If your baby cries and cries for hours, try this advice for colicky babies.

5 calming techniques

  1. Skin-to-skin contact: Skin-to-skin contact can help your baby maintain their body temperature and lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. When your baby is fussy, try undressing them down to their diaper (add a hat for added warmth) and place them against your bare torso for about 20 minutes. The sensation of your skin and the sound of your heart beating can help them feel safe and relaxed. 
  2. Rocking: The gentle back and forth of rocking mimics the motion your baby experienced while they were in the womb. You may already rock your baby to help them sleep—you can also try varying the speed and direction of your motion to soothe them when they’re fussy. 
  3. Gentle shushing: While they were in the womb, your baby experienced constant, rhythmic noise. Now that they’re out in the world, mimicking this noise by making a ‘shushing’ noise can be calming and reassuring. Try placing your mouth a few inches from your baby’s ear while making this noise. Increase your volume until it matches the level of their crying, then decrease it as your baby quiets down.
  4. Taking a walk: Even babies experience boredom. Understimulation can actually make your baby as fussy as overstimulation can, so consider increasing the excitement instead of taking it away. The steady motion of a walk (with your baby facing out), combined with new sights and sounds, gives your baby something new to interest them and engage their senses.
  5. Stroking their face: Think of it as an infant massage, which is both stimulating and calming. You can slowly stroke your baby’s face by pointing your middle and pointer fingers down from their forehead, then gently trailing down the nose and up and over each eyebrow. You can do this while holding your baby or while they lie in their crib.

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Posted in: 0 - 12 Weeks, 3 - 4 Months, 5 - 6 Months, Bonding, Social Emotional, Newborn Care, Baby Care, Lovevery App, Child Development

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