Want to know how to calm your crying baby? The first step is learning the basics of the 5 S’s: Swaddle, Side-Stomach Position, Shush, Swing and Suck. And now you may be looking for some pro moves to improve your baby-calming game. These variations on the "swing" make calming a fussy baby easy–and fun.
1. The Milkshake
Most parents are amazed how well this method works!
- Sit with your baby on your lap.
- Place one hand under your baby’s chin like a helmet strap and slip the other under the buttocks.
- Lean your baby forward–his head a few inches in front of his body - and lift him straight up–a foot or so–into the air.
- Now, bounce him up and down with fast (two to three times a second), tiny (one-to-two-inch) movements, like you’re making a milkshake.
This is also a great way to burp your baby–and tone your arms.
2. The Jell-O Head Jiggle
Swaddle your baby and cradle him in the classic breastfeeding hold. Let the back of his skull rest on your forearm. Then jiggle your baby in your arms in a very small motion- move no more than 1/2 inch back and forth from your body, and have your jiggle be rapid. The goal is to have your baby's head quiver, like Jell-O on a plate.
Related: The Difference Between Calming Motion & Shaken Baby Syndrome
3. The Windshield Wiper
Carrying your baby is one of the sweetest treats of being a new mom, but by the end of the day, it can leave you exhausted. How can you jiggle your baby without wearing out your back, your carpet or your sense of humor?
The windshield wiper combines all the 5 S’s for a perfect soothing experience. It’s one of my favorite ways of switching on the calming reflex.
- Swaddle your baby (1st S), then sit in a comfy chair with your knees touching and your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-distance apart. Sitting forward works best.
- Place your baby on his side . . . in the groove between your legs (2nd S). His cheek and head will be in your palm and outstretched fingers, on top of your knees, and his ankles on your hip.
- Slide your other hand under his head so your two hands overlap and his head is cradled in a loose, open grasp.
- Roll him towards his stomach, soften your shoulders, take a deep breath and let your body relax.
- Lean over his body and shhh by his ear (the 3rd S). Shush as loud as he’s crying.
- Now, swing your knees side to side – like a windshield wiper (4th S). If he’s crying, make faster (two to three beats per second) smaller moves (one inch from side to side) and open your hands to get that same Jell-O head jiggle described in move #2
- Finally, offer a pacifier (the 5th S).
Note: The windshield wiper motion actually comes from the feet...not from the shoulders or hips. Bouncing your knees up and down doesn’t work as well as swinging them side to side.
Don’t get discouraged if the movement seems complicated. You’ll soon see its one of the easiest ways to soothe your baby when you’re feeling totally pooped. (It’s hard learning anything when someone is yelling at you! So practice the windshield wiper when your baby is already calm or sleeping.