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  • One Saturday morning I was at my office seeing the usual weekend sprinkling of children with runny noses and soccer sprains. As I went to meet my next patient I heard a shriek that almost made the door vibrate. I quickly walked in and saw the back of a woman bouncing up and down; over her shoulder was a tomato-red face with tightly clenched eyes…it was Benji. Benjamin, the 19-day-old son of Wendy and Steve, was “ballistic”. I asked if I could take him for a second and despite his best kung-fu moves, I got him swaddled. Within less than a minute, he had quieted, entranced by the vigorous “windshield wiper” movement I was doing. I smiled at Wendy and Steve. I could see their shoulders starting to relax and I asked them to tell me if this was typical behavior for their boy. Wendy said Ben had been screaming like this for days…and nights. “The first two weeks of Benjamin’s life he would not be put down. Unless he was carried in a front carrier or rocked in my arms, he would cry. If he had been my first child, I might have been able to spend twelve weeks with a baby glued to my arms, but unfortunately my two year old had other ideas.” Wendy said that they were confused because nothing that had worked for their first son, Eli, was helping this time. “Eli loved swaddling. I didn’t discover it until he was 2-months-old, but, the very first night I tried it he gave up his every 2 hour wakings and slept 7 hours straight. I was terrified, but ecstatic!” “When my #2 son came along, I confidently tried the wrapping trick, but Benji reacted to it like I was sticking needles into him.“ In my office, I discussed with Wendy and Steve, Benji’s sensitive temperament and how that made it hard for him not to have the 4th trimester he was “expecting”. Then, I went over the 5 S’s in detail and had Steve practice the DUDU wrap and “windshield wiper” with me. Finally, I sent them home with instructions to phone me in 2 days to report their progress. When they left, Ben was in a deep, peaceful sleep. Four days later, I got a call from Wendy… “Things were not going too well for us at home. Benji seemed to like the bouncy seat and white noise, but he still hated the swaddling. I continued trying to wrap him, but he cried so much I was afraid it was hurting him. Steve was reluctant to wrap Ben because he struggled against it so much Steve was convinced he wasn’t doing it right.” Wendy and Steve were very disappointed things were not getting better. Ben still only slept in 1-2 hour stretches and took a lot of effort to soothe when he got upset. They were worried because they knew the most colicky period was not even upon them yet. I encouraged them to persevere with all the steps and reminded them how important it was to do the swaddling exactly as I had shown them. Then, they turned the corner… “I never would have believed it, but the wrapping was the key to everything! Our first son Eli never resisted being bundled up but Benji fought it with all his strength. However, it was only after he was tightly swaddled that the rocking, pacifier and shushing worked to calm him. (My guess is other babies react the same way, causing their parents to think they hate it and give up.) To my great relief, the combination of the S’s really worked. After a few days of practice, I could put Benji down for hours at a time with no problem. Eventually, even Steve learned the DUDU (although it took his being left alone for half a day to get him motivated). Now, when Ben is swaddled perfectly he sleeps much of the day and for 7-9 hours at night (with 1 very brief feeding). For naps, I always let our tiny son sleep in the swing on the fast speed and keep the noise machine on the swing tray table…on full volume. Sometimes when he’s super upset, I put the sound machine closer to his head for a minute and then I move it down near his stomach. Ben is now 6-weeks-old and at the peak of what should be his worst time, but when all five components of the Cuddle are in place Benji’s a pretty easy baby. When he’s wrapped, I can always calm him down in a minute or two…but, to be honest, as long as we do the “Karp Cuddle”, he doesn’t cry very much at all. I’ve also noticed that Benji doesn’t do well if I let him have long (more than ½ hour) awake periods during the day. He gets over-stimulated and has great difficulty settling himself. So when he starts getting cranky, I take that as my cue to put him back in the swing and do my womb imitation. I recommend this method for anyone with a ‘difficult’ baby. I can’t imagine what my mental state would be if I were still carrying him all day and rocking him all night. It has made an enormous difference for both me and Benji, as well as my first guys, Steve and Eli!” At 2 months, Wendy visited her mom for a few weeks…without the swing. Benji still calmed with the help of the Cuddle but he did start waking up every 3 hours. By 4 months of age, Benji had turned the corner. He now was happy and smiling all day long and didn’t need any help from swinging, swaddling or sound to be able to sleep from 6PM -7 AM every day with just one waking for milk. Wendy called me to say that she had passed on my tips to a friend in Missouri and her baby made a complete turn-around!

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