Sunday, March 30, 2008

Loving Hands, Calm Minds and Sleeping Babies

I just read the book (it takes about an hour to read it) Loving Hands: The Traditional Art of Baby Massage by Frederick Leboyer. The concept of baby massage is that it will help soothe the baby and release any tension in the baby's body and of course that it will be a good bonding time for mother and child--keeping them connected as a unit. I'm sure Daddy could do it as well. I used this technique before bed last night and I thought I'd try to do it regularly each week or as often as possible. The book notes that baby massage should start around the age of 4 week and Owen is 4 weeks this weekend, we are going to try to get into this routine.

Right at this moment our child is swaddled up sleeping in his swing listening to our "Sounds from the Womb" record from the late 70's. This is after I vacuumed the carpet to put him into a calm state. We got these great ideas from reading (and watching the video) The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp. This book has been an enormous help (Thank you Jenni for giving it to me) In fact, I think all new parents should check out Dr. Karp's five S's outlined in his book. They are: 1) swaddling 2) side-lying position 3)shhh's 4)swinging and 5) sucking. Karp claims (as many professionals have hypothesized) that the first three months of a newborn's life should really be considered the 4th trimester. In other words, your baby is really still a fetus and needs to have the "comforts of home" which is where the five S's come in handy. The swaddling helps make them feel tight and secured like they were in your womb, the side lying position is just more comfortable and offers a natural calming reflex than their back (back is still safer for sleeping), the shhhhh sound is similar to what they heard in the womb, which happens to be as loud as a vacuum cleaner or hair dryer (Owen loves both noises), swinging imitates the constant motion they felt for 40 weeks and sucking is a natural calming reflex, like the icing on the cake. Swaddling alone doesn't help Owen relax, he has to have about 3 of the S's to really calm down, his favorite being white noise which stops his crying immediately. We have him sleep with a constant white noise machine that makes a hissing sound (supposed to be rain) and I think it helps Matt and Kaibee sleep better too! The first couple of weeks it seems like Owen cried a lot each time he was awake and I wanted to soothe him but it seemed like nothing worked. The reality is most newborns cry often. All they are capable of is pooping, crying and sucking. It isn't until three months that they even have control of their hands and legs... so for all practical purposes I treat Owen as if he's still inside me-- he needs a lot of holding, nursing, cuddling and calming. The techniques we learned from Dr. Karp's book and his video work like a charm-- REALLY. Additionally, it was important to burp him vigorously and he enjoys the pat, pat, thump thump style on his back as a calming method. Owen sleeps 3-4 hours in his bassinet the first time I put him down, I nurse him, burp him, change him then he sleeps 2-3 hours with me each additional time I put him down until morning arrives. When he seems really relaxed, I can put him back into the bassinet. Since I can nurse in the side-lying position with him, it's easy to take him to bed with me. If he's sleeping with me, I just dress him in a onsie but if he's sleeping in the bassinet I usually swaddle him. As with any advice, you must take it with a grain of salt. I don't like to swaddle Owen each time he goes to sleep, I prefer to wear him in either his Moby Wrap , sling, or put him in his bassinet without being swaddled. I guess I don't want him to get used to any one thing too much. Flexibility is key!!

1 comment:

Mary Jessica said...

Love all those Happiest Baby S's! This post reminds me of hauling Tommy into bed with us constantly (though we did have a mini-co-sleeper next to the bed, like a little sidecar). We still occasionally nap during the day together if I'm really tired, and it's pretty cuddly and sweet.

So glad to see you are finding methods that work for everyone and bring some much-needed peace and sleep. xo MJ