Soothing your baby – how to stay calm when you don’t feel calm
A crying baby, especially a new one, can be hard to listen to. Even harder when it’s your job to do the soothing, and every attempt to calm your bub is met with more angry cries.
It’s completely normal to find this experience upsetting and stressful, although if you respond to your baby with heightened anxiety, your soothing techniques aren’t likely to have the calming effects you’d like.
Ultimately, your baby needs to feel warm, safe and cared for, and that you’ve got everything under control. Babies aren’t born with the capacity for self-regulation, which means it’s up to you to lead the way. If you have a racing heartbeat, unsteady breathing, and feel on the brink of hysterical tears, there’s a good chance your baby is picking up on all these vibes and reflecting them right back at you.
But just because you don’t feel calm when your baby is screaming the house down, doesn’t mean you can’t ACT like you are. Sometimes it’s a ‘fake it til you make it’ thing. Think about how paramedics approach a scene of emergency. Their tones and actions are confident and reassuring, which has the effect of easing those around them.
This is the calm vibe you need to channel, because your baby is likely to reflect whatever emotional state you’re in.
So how do you fake being calm and in control when you feel anything but? There’s a few things you can try. The best thing is, acting the calm and confident mum will automatically help you feel more in control, and this in turn will soothe your baby.
Here’s how to stay calm when you don’t feel calm:
Sing to your baby.
Forget how bad your rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is. Your baby will love your melodic voice and won’t judge you for a second. Plus, nursery rhymes are brilliant for rhythm and repetition, two things that babies love, and which can also help to slow you right down when you’re feeling impatient or edgy. It’s really hard to sound hysterical when singing Baa Baa Black Sheep.
If singing isn’t your thing, try humming instead. You’d be surprised at the calming effects a bit of humming can have on your entire body. It encourages your breathing, heart rate and even your thoughts to slow down, giving you a chance to focus with a bit of clarity. Aside from all this, your humming can be a pleasant and calming sound for your baby to hear as well.
Change the scenery.
If you’re stuck in baby’s room trying to soothe him back to sleep and it’s just not working, get out of there. The change of scenery could be enough to calm bub down momentarily while you think of the next move to make. And if you can get out of the house with bub in a carrier, then do that, too. The fresh air can do you both good, and mixing with the rest of the world can make everything feel a lot more sane for you.
Talk it up.
Talking out loud while you’re dealing with an unhappy baby gets you out of your head, where all that stressful energy is ricocheting around. By verbalising some calming statements, both you and bub can be soothed. Try repeating ‘It’s okay, mummy’s here’, ‘Everything’s going to be alright’ or ‘I know how you feel, let it out.’ Positive affirmations like these can have a powerful effect on you, even if they’re intended for your baby.
Yesterday’s settling technique might not work today. Your perfect sleeper that snoozed the days away last week might suddenly wake up with a mission. Babies chop and change their habits as they grow and it’s our job to be as flexible as possible in meeting their changing needs. If one thing doesn’t work, try another. Have a metaphorical toolbox of techniques to try for when the usual ones don’t seem to be doing the trick.
Get the help you need.
If you’re still finding the crying stressful or if your baby isn’t responding to any soothing techniques, it’s time to get things checked out. Make an appointment with your GP or other health professional, who can see you and your baby and rule out any health issues that might be going on, such as feeding or digestive issues. This will also give you the chance to talk about how you’re coping and seek further support as necessary.
If you’re struggling with any aspects of motherhood, get in touch and let me know what’s going on for you. There’s always ways to make things better. It starts with making that first move.
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