March 3, 2014
Creative Ways to Console
There’s no one perfect solution to console a crying baby, but there are a few creative ideas moms have used throughout the years to help soothe the tears. Try several of these methods to see which ones may work for your precious one.
Rocking. As anyone who has ever whiled away the hours on a porch swing knows, there is something calming about a gentle rocking motion. Consider standing with your baby in your arms and swaying back and forth, rocking in a rocking chair or glider, or placing the baby in a baby swing.
Change of Venue. Putting your baby in the stroller and taking her for a walk may calm both you and her down. Another helpful idea is to put your baby in the car seat and take her for a ride. Perhaps a quiet, dark room or a different setting is all she needs to regain some composure.
A Snug Wrap. A swaddling wrap is a way of firmly wrapping a newborn, helping him feel more secure. Here’s one way to swaddle your baby: Spread a receiving or lightweight blanket on the floor. Fold one corner of the blanket down. Lay baby faceup on the blanket with her head just above the folded end. Pick up either the right or left side of the blanket and pull it over your baby to tuck it in snugly under her opposite side. Fold up the bottom of the blanket to cover her feet, then wrap the remaining side of the blanket around her, keeping her head and neck exposed. Do not wrap too tightly, and do not leave your baby in a swaddle wrap for more than eight hours in a row. I recommend a blanket called the Miracle Blanket, which is created especially for babies as a swaddling wrap.
Singing or Consistent Rhythm. Your baby was accustomed to the rhythm of your heartbeat while in the womb, and some newborns are soothed by a similarly consistent rhythm. Consider gently humming or singing a lullaby to soothe your fussy baby. I sang “Jesus Loves Me” and other simple Bible songs to calm my babies. Some parents have found the rhythm of the washing machine or dishwasher can help.
Pacifier or Teething Ring. Some babies have a strong desire or natural reflex to suck. A pacifier may be the calming factor your child needs. Usually between three to eight months old, babies begin cutting teeth, which may increase irritability. Excessive drooling, biting, or even a mild temperature may be an indication that a tooth is surfacing. To soothe your baby’s gums, offer her a cold, wet washcloth, a refrigerated (not frozen) teething ring, or teething biscuits.
Baby Massage. Gently rub or massage your baby’s back or tummy to help soothe the crying.
Stimulation. Although one reason babies cry is from overstimulation, it can also be possible that your baby is bored and may need attention or stimuli. There are plenty of baby boredom busters on the market. Visit your local toy store or do a search for “smart baby toys” on the Web.
Gas Remedies. It is possible that your baby may need to be burped or needs to be fed in a more upright position to avoid gas pains. If your baby arches her back or draws up her knees in pain, she is likely to be suffering from gas. You may want to consider Mylicon Infant Gas Relief, which is safe for newborns and available over the counter at most pharmacies. Sometimes babies have an intolerance or allergy to certain foods. A simple change in diet may make a difference.
Colic. Mayo Clinic estimates that 5 to 25 percent of babies have a frustrating period of inconsolable and intense crying known as colic.4 Colic is typically defined as crying for more than three hours a day, three days a week, for more than three weeks in an otherwise well-fed, healthy baby. Generally the episodes show up in the late afternoon or evening. A colicky baby may be difficult or even impossible to console during these crying episodes.
In addition to trying the methods already mentioned in this chapter, it is important for you to try to stay as calm as possible if your baby is colicky. I know it is difficult to remain relaxed in the midst of incessant crying, but your baby can pick up on your stress and tension. Again, don’t hesitate to ask if you need to call a friend or see if your spouse can give you just a short break. Use the opportunity to take a quick nap, read, talk to another adult, take a shower, or simply step out of the house in order to regain your composure. If there is no one to call at the time, then you may need to lay your baby safely in her crib and step into another room for a while.
Take Care of Yourself. It can be unnerving to hear your baby constantly cry. If you have gone through the checklist of possible reasons your baby is crying and nothing seems to fit, then take a few measures so that you do not become overwhelmed. Sometimes, you may need to put your baby down and let her cry for a while, or you can put on some relaxing music to calm your spirit and help you not focus on the cries.
These tips come from my book, Defuse, A Positive Plan for More Love Less Anger (Thomas Nelson)
Next week we will look at dealing with Toddler Tantrums.
February 17, 2014
You’ve prepared for almost nine months for an eagerly anticipated new member of your family. The nursery is decorated and stocked with baby clothes and diapers, and your family and friends are overjoyed. It’s all so wonderful! That is, until you come home from the hospital and your baby begins to cry and you can’t figure out how to console him. Welcome to motherhood! It’s not quite as easy and blissful as we anticipated. Isn’t it amazing how this precious new addition to the world, so tiny and sweet and innocent, has the power to fluster and frazzle us simply by crying?
Your little treasure from God is not deliberately trying to frustrate you, although it may feel that way sometimes. A crying baby is simply trying to communicate the only way he can. No matter how frustrating the crying may be, we need to remember that our baby’s intent is not spiteful, but rather based on need, comfort, and survival.
A mother’s response to her baby’s cries can reassure him and give him a sense of security. “Picking up and attending to your crying baby won’t spoil her. For the first few months, you are getting to know your baby and she is getting used to being in the world,” says pediatrician Maud Meates-Dennis. “By being responsive to her crying you are letting your baby know that she is loved and cared for and that will give her security.”
A newborn baby may cry for more than two hours on any given day. As you get to know your baby, you will begin to figure out why she is crying—perhaps she is hungry or tired or in need of a diaper change. It also helps to know some practical techniques to calm the crying and cope with the tears. Let’s begin by examining some of the reasons babies cry and then some creative ways to deal with it.
Why Do Babies Cry?
Babies must rely on someone else to provide for their basic needs of comfort, warmth, and food. Typically when a baby cries, he is trying to communicate he has a specific need. As a new mom, you may be frustrated by your baby’s cries as you desperately try to figure out what could be upsetting your precious little one. Gradually, you will begin to recognize your baby’s patterns as you get to know his needs. Let’s examine some of the reasons a baby cries.
Hunger. The most common reason a baby cries is because she needs to be fed. If it has been more than three hours since she last ate, she may be hungry again. Most newborns eat every few hours (unfortunately around the clock), with the exception of the first day or two after birth, when some babies feed very little. Some babies may get so upset when they are hungry that by the time they begin feeding, they gulp air with the milk—which causes them to spit up or cry even louder.
Try to gently calm your baby before feeding her, and if your baby begins to gulp, take a short break. Take time to burp your baby during and after each feeding. Your baby may need to be burped between meals as well.
Diaper Change. Some babies become especially upset when their diapers are soiled or wet, while other babies seem perfectly content even when they have a full diaper. Check your baby’s diaper often to make sure it is dry. Also, check the tabs to make sure the diaper fits properly and the tabs are not irritating her skin.
Need to Be Comfortable. Babies often cry if they are too hot or too cold. Touch your baby’s stomach to feel if she is too hot or too cold (feeling hands or feet is not a good guide, as they usually feel slightly colder). Add a layer of clothing or take one away accordingly. Your baby may feel more secure or comfortable bundled in a swaddle wrap, which is explained in the next section.
Tiredness. A tired baby can be a fussy baby. If you notice your baby losing interest in people or toys, rubbing her eyes, yawning, or decreasing activity, she may need a nap. If you respond early to your baby’s cues of tiredness, you may avoid a major outburst of tears.
Newborns need up to sixteen hours (or more) of rest each day, so make sure your baby is getting the sleep she needs. Sometimes your baby may be overstimulated due to a busy day or lots of people around, so you will need to take her to a quiet, dark place away from the stimulation in order to get some rest.
Need to Be Held. Many babies need an extra dose of cuddling and reassurance that you are there. Newborns especially need close physical contact for comfort, whereas older babies may be reassured by seeing or hearing their parents nearby. The Mayo Clinic reports, “Babies who are held or carried during most of their waking hours are less fussy than those left in a crib or infant seat.”2 You may find a baby sling helpful, allowing you to keep your baby close while freeing up your hands. A gentle massage or light pats on the back also reassure your baby through your touch.
Overstimulation. Too much activity, too many people, too much noise may be too much for a baby. If you notice your baby shutting her eyes or turning her head and crying, she may be trying to shut out all the stimuli around her. This would be a good time for a change in scenery, perhaps moving to a dark, quiet room or, if the weather is nice, it may be good to head outdoors for some peace and quiet and fresh air. A calmer environment and maybe even some gentle “white noise” like a ceiling fan could help your baby calm down.
Pain or Illness. If you have checked the above motivations and your baby is still crying, you may want to explore the possibility that she is in pain or ill. A baby who is sick or in pain often cries in a different tone than her normal cry. It could be sudden and shrill or higher pitched.
Check your baby’s temperature and do a full examination of her body to make sure there are no rashes or obvious problems. Make sure her clothes are not too tight or pinching her. If your baby is at least three months old, you might also want to run a clean finger along her gum line to see if her gums are swollen or if you can feel a tooth coming through. If so, you can offer her a refrigerated (not frozen) teething ring or obtain your pediatrician’s permission to use an over-the-counter oral anesthetic, such as Oragel.
Some babies have a reaction to certain kinds of formula. If you are breastfeeding, your baby may be reacting to spicy or gas-producing foods you ate. Some babies are sensitive to caffeine as well. If you think certain foods may be causing your breastfeeding baby to be fussy, then avoid those foods for several days and see if you notice any difference.
Remember, no one knows your baby like you do, and if you sense that something is wrong physically, do not hesitate to call the pediatrician.
Need to Suck on Something. Many babies find it comforting or soothing to suck on something, whether it is a clean finger or your pacifier. First, make sure that your baby is not hungry, since newborns most often need to have their sucking instinct satisfied with the nutrition of breastmilk or formula, rather than the nonnutritive sucking of a pacifier. Once you have ensured that the baby is not hungry, then offer her a pacifier, teething ring, or a clean finger to suck on until she calms down.
Time of Day. Sometimes there are simply times of the day that a baby may become fussy. One of my daughters typically had a crying spell in the early evening, which made dinner preparation a tad bit of a challenge, yet this routine only lasted a short while.
Next week we will look at creative ways to console a crying baby.
This is an excerpt from my book, Defuse, A Mom’s Survival Guide to More Love, Less Anger
February 12, 2014
Moms Do Sickness Standing Up
It’s true… moms do sickness standing up. I’ve been sick for the last few days, so I know. I have stayed standing for most of it. I don’t go to bed and watch TV like the rest of my household. No one brings me crackers or soup. I still make meals, taxi kids, clean messes, feed the dogs and go to football awards banquets… all WHILE I’m feeling sick. Is this self-pity? Not really. It’s just that I want other moms to know that we’re all in a special club… of SAINTS!
Take TODAY as an example. Not only have I been sick, but I’m what they call a “Mountain Mama.” I live up at 9,000 feet in the foothills outside of Denver. We Mountain Moms add a unique style to our “Standup Sickness.” Today, I arose at 6AM to a pitch dark, snowy morning… jolted out of my slumber by the melodious tune of a whining basset hound puppy. So I got out of my warm bed, deeply aware of my sore throat, headache and slight feverishness. I got out of my bed ANYWAY to let out “the whiner.” And I let him out in style… I walked him around the side yard, clad in my bathrobe, boot-shoes and stuck-my-finger-in-a-light-socket hair. Actually, in MY neighborhood, I could let him out, while wearing only my underwear and NOBODY would notice. It’s the mountains.
Brought the puppy back in… let the full-grown Golden Retriever out… and proceeded to fill dog bowls with water and food. TRIED to lie down…. but, oh yeah, that’s right I’m a sick MOM, so I’m supposed to stay standing. The puppy helped me stay standing by peeing INSIDE on the tile, so that I could clean it up for him. Didn’t I just take him out so he WOULDN’T do that? Then, the Golden Retriever engaged me in his favorite game which he (the dog) describes like this: “When I see the mom coming to open the gate to the backyard and let me back in the house, I creep up to her like I want to come inside and just when she opens the gate, I run away and laugh at her standing there in her underwear and bathrobe. Mom gets mad at me then.” So, I went back inside and swore I would NEVER let the Golden Retriever BACK in our house again. Sorry kids, we’re now a one-peeing-puppy family.
Was finally able to crawl my headachey, sore throat body back into bed for a little while, but then overslept. I had to wake up the sleeping princess to get her ready for school. Dad & son had already left. So, we started her shower and I went to make her breakfast, let the dogs out again, clean up pee, stare at the neighbors who are now staring back at me in my bathrobe and sticky-outy hair because the sun has come up. Then — still standing up— I sign school papers, help pack a lunch, put my daughter’s contacts into her eyes because HER attempts have already lasted 25 minutes. I get my sickish self dressed and get ready to go out to the SUV and drive my happy, healthy daughter to school. Except….. I forgot. We don’t have a garage — part of being a Mountain Mama — so the SUV is covered in snow & ice and I forgot to start the car (and the defroster) 15 minutes early, so NOW we have to start madly scraping off the ice & snow to get my daughter to school on time. We check EVERYWHERE for the ice scraper thingy that you’re supposed to use on windshields. CANNOT find it. So, I tell me daughter to go upstairs and get the biggest metal spatula she can find. I then start scraping off the SUV windows with BIG Metal Spatula… still standing… and still sick. Close to hysteria… not wanting my daughter to be late… we get into the half-scraped car, praying for the heater to work better and for us to get to school safely because mommy is now driving in a crouched down position (NOT standing) to see through the one clear spot in the windshield. Got her there safely. Got her there in time.
Now, THAT is how we moms do sickness…. standing up.
Find out more about Jenny at: www.channelmom.com
January 9, 2014
Welcome to PositiveMom.com. Typcially I feature a guest blog writer in this space, but this month I want to do things a little differently. I’ve invited my talented, dynamic and positive friend Jenny Dean Schmidt to share her video blogs with you. Each week we will feature a different video from Jenny. Here’s her bio so you can know more about her. Be sure to return each week and click on the video on the right hand side of your PositiveMom.com screen to watch her video blogs. I know you will love her and her heartfelt messages to you as a mom!
Jenny Dean Schmidt is a wife, mother and has been host of The Channelmom Show for more than 2 years.
Jenny had an extensive career in television news, where she worked as an on-air reporter, producer and writer. She has worked for ABC News, FNN, The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour as well as NBC, ABC, CBS and WB affiliates in major U.S. cities.
Jenny also served as a stay-at-home mom for many years.
Jenny has interviewed two Presidents, as well as many other politicians and celebrities. She’s covered high-profile news stories, including the OJ Simpson trial, the Columbine massacre, and a number of Presidential campaigns. Jenny has also been a guest on TV and radio shows, as well as featured in a number of news articles. Jenny was awarded an Emmy for her reporting on the 1996 race for President.
Jenny is passionate about the important role of mothers in modern America. She believes the role of moms is often overshadowed by the spotlight we place on celebrities and the celebrity lifestyle. She wants moms everywhere to understand they are celebrities to their Creator.
Visit her website at www.Channelmom.com for more info.
December 27, 2013
I love the week between Christmas and New Years. It’s a time to reflect, regroup and relax. It’s a time to focus on our relationships with our family and friends, and most importantly our relationship with God. As we reflect on the past year, we can always find things to be thankful for as well as things we need to change. I want to encourage you to take some quiet time to reflect and regroup. Set a few goals for the new year and make a deliberate effort to make 2014 better than the year before. Let’s move forward in life and not backward! One of the ways we do that is by considering how to live with intention and purpose from year to year, learning from the past and pressing on toward the plans God has for us.
Here are ten questions to prayerfully ask yourself as you reflect on the past year and move forward in a positive direction for the new year.
In what ways did I grow and learn in the past year?
What can I be thankful for in 2013?
What are some areas in my life that I would like to change?
Are there areas where I need to use my time more wisely?
What would I like to accomplish in 2014 in my career and personal life?
What is one new, positive habit I’d like to form in the new year?
What is one way I can reach out of my comfort zone and help the lives of others in the coming year?
What is one new thing I’d like to learn in 2014?
Who do I want to get to know better or spend more time with in the coming year?
What one word would describe my focus for the next year?
I want to encourage you to spend time in prayer as you reflect on these questions. Ask God to direct you as you step forward into a new season. Let us walk obediently in His path and not rush down the road of our own desires. Each year, I choose one Bible verse to be my “verse for the year.” Next week, I’ll let you know what my 2014 verse is. Ask the Lord to direct you to your “verse for the year” and share it with me next week. Have a delightful, Christ-centered week.