The 5S: Tips To Calming Your Crying Baby
By Stephanie Dekom, MD
Parenthood can be daunting. Your life changes in a flash. Suddenly, you are responsible for another life—a life you cherish, in many ways, more than your own. The challenges of parenthood can seem overwhelming. As a pediatrician, I understand that and want to help make the process easier.
As a pediatrician, I know one thing is true. All babies cry. As you and baby grow and learn one another, you will become an expert on what his or her cry means. However, the hard truth is, sometimes babies cry just because they are babies. This can be alarming and upsetting for new parents, because, let’s face it, crying probably developed in the first place as a way to alarm others. “The Happiest Baby on the Block,” by Dr. Harvey Karp is a great resource for new parents. It reviews the 5 S’s, which I believe are essential to calming down a newborn.
1. Swaddle: Take a square blanket, lay it down diagonally on a flat surface, folding the top corner down. Then lay baby’s head down on the folded corner and place his or her feet towards your body. Next you will begin wrapping baby up like a burrito. Start by taking the right corner of the blanket towards baby’s left side and wrap the blanket around the body, then take the bottom corner up towards baby’s head and tuck it in, finally move the left corner of the blanket towards baby’s right side, ultimately tucking in the corner for security. By doing this, you will be making baby into a tightly packaged bundle. Remember, baby is used to being inside mom’s uterus, a tiny house with a tight fit. Infants really respond well to swaddling. It provides a great deal of comfort and mimics an environment in which they felt very safe.
2. Side-lying position: In the uterus, babies don’t rest in an upright position. They spend the majority of their time inside mom’s laying sideways.
3. Shush: The noises your baby is used to hearing in utero mimic the sounds of white noise, the sort of formless sound you hear from the surf or an electric fan. It is important to note that this shushing should be done, counter to your intuition, loudly. The uterus is actually a relatively noisy environment, and baby can find a loud shushing quite comforting.
4. Swing: Once baby is in your arms and resting in a side position, you can swing him or her in a rocking motion. Baby has just gotten out of a 9 month water bath, and is used to a rocking motion; it reminds him or her of home. Again, this works best when done in wide movements.
5. Suck: Lastly, sucking is a natural way to soothe your baby. Having your baby suck on a pacifier, nipple, bottle, or even your finger can all be great sources of comfort to baby in the first few weeks of life.
These five tips, done in conjunction with one another, provide excellent calming results for newborns. Just remember you are ready, you are prepared, and you’ve got this.
Follow me on Instagram @mommyhotline for more tips and tricks. My goal is to create an online resource for parents. I will be posting a tip or two a day regarding general pediatric care. Additionally, I hope to grow followers, take questions, and do live discussions on general pediatrics topics. My aim is not only to provide general pediatric knowledge, but also to address those burning questions that you might be afraid to ask in the office.
Author: Stephanie Dekom, MD is a board-certified pediatrician located in Los Angeles. She studied in Washington, DC at The George Washington University School of Medicine. During medical school, Stephanie took a one year leave of absence after she won the title of Miss District of Columbia 2010, and subsequently competed in the Miss America Pageant. After obtaining her medical degree in 2013, she subsequently went on to train in General Pediatrics at UCLA. She is currently a fellow at Los Angeles County & University of Southern California medical center when she is further subspecializing in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine.