Calming a Fussy Baby

Swaddling a Baby

Discover the benefits of swaddling a baby by viewing Dr. Damien Mitchell’s educational video demonstrating the Five S’s from Dr. Harvey Karp’s “Happiest Baby” Method for Baby Sleep and Soothing.

Benefits of Swaddling a Baby – Dr. Damien Mitchell

Having a baby is one of the most joy filled occasions a person can experience in life. Unfortunately, a lack of sleep and the steady increase in a newborn’s crying can often turn that joy into despair. While almost all parents are prepared for the life altering happiness that comes with a newborn, most are not aware of the newborn care challenges that await in the first few months of life. Starting around 2 weeks of life, it is normal to see newborns have a steady increase in fussiness and irritability that peaks around 6 weeks and comes back to baseline around 8-10 weeks (colicky babies may remain fussy until 3-4 months of life). During this time, it is normal for infants to cry more, pass lots of gas, strain with bowel movements, and have a consistent time in the night or evening when they “lose their minds and go crazy” (this time of day is often referred to as the witching hour even though it often lasts more than an hour). The stress caused by a crying baby is compounded by the fact that infants under 2 months of age don’t typically care that their parents exist. At this age, the wallpaper is just as compelling as a mother’s face and the lack of reciprocal love can exacerbate the despair of any new parent.

Understanding the First 2 Months of Life

The good news is that we have some tools to get through this difficult stage of life so that we get to experience the joys that come later when your baby starts to coo, smile reciprocally, and demonstrate that he does indeed love you back. To begin with, it is important to understand that in the first 2 months of life we are not worried about spoiling your newborn. You are free to hold her, rock her, kiss her, and hug her as much as you like. The same lack of awareness that makes the wall just as interesting as your face makes it difficult for your newborn to develop habits and patterns that need to be broken later on. When your child starts to become more aware and interactive around 2-3 months of life is when you will need to be concerned about him developing bad habits. As a result, the 2-month visit is the ideal time to talk to your pediatrician about sleep training and the development of habits that will promote sleep going forward. In the meantime, the goal is to survive and do all that you can to help calm and comfort your newborn.

“Happiest Baby” Method for Baby Sleep and Soothing.

The strategies outlined in Dr. Harvey Karp’s book “The Happiest Baby on The Block” give parents tools to help calm a fussy baby and minimize the stress that can accompany the first few months of an infant’s life. In the video above, I describe the Five S’s that are critical to calming a fussy baby and demonstrate how to effectively swaddle an infant using a blanket.

The Five S’s to soothe your baby are:

  1. Swaddling
  2. Sucking
  3. Side lying
  4. Swaying
  5. Shooshing

Please be aware that when swaddling an infant, it is always important to: make sure the swaddle is not so tight that the infant’s breathing is restricted, make sure the infant’s hips are in a relaxed position and not fixed in an extended position, and that you do not swaddle any infant who can roll from back to front (this skill typically develops around 4 months of life).

Learn more about Newborn Care and Breastfeeding.

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