Q: My baby cries a lot and I want to help her calm herself. How do I do this?
A: In discussions about helping babies learn to fall asleep on their own, you may hear "self-soothing" mentioned a lot. The term can sometimes be interpreted as a parent making a baby "cry it out" or ignoring their cries. This is absolutely not true.
Allowing babies to learn calming strategies gives them an important life skill. Leading by example and teaching good coping skills from the beginning helps babies become happy, well-adjusted children.
Teaching how to self-soothe involves a learning curve for you as well as your baby. If your baby is extremely irritable, for example, they may be hungry (and then you need to feed them) or very tired (and then you need to try to help them sleep). If you think your baby is in pain, you need to address that.
If all of these are ruled out and your baby is fed, changed and well-rested but fussy, then you can try a progression of calming techniques listed below.
Too often, when your baby is crying (which may seem like all the time!), you may have the instinct to immediately pick them up. Instead, next time try slow down and take steps to really learn about your baby and what they need. Try each technique slowly and be sure to pause to see how your baby responds.
The order of the progression is important because you are doing less at the beginning by just using your voice and more at the end when you are holding and possibly feeding your baby. The goal is for your baby to calm with less intervention from you, and for you to move away from holding your baby all day, which happens frequently with fussy babies.
Here is the CALM Baby Method progression:
— Look at your baby.
— Look at your baby and talk to them.