Between 6 weeks and 3 months, many babies are at their most irritable, especially in the late afternoon or throughout the night. With so much new information to process, newborns easily become over-stimulated and lose their cool (to put it lightly).
Dr. Tovah Klein, head of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and author of How Toddlers Thrive, has simple tips to ease fussiness and soothe your baby.
Soothing your baby
By this time you may have a better idea of what the different cries mean (hunger, pain, tired, bored), and that makes it easier for you to respond to your baby’s needs. But don’t worry if you’re still unsure of the different cries; you’ll know them in time. Whenever your baby cries, it means she needs something, or she just needs you.
When you focus on the baby and talk to her, she will sometimes smile at you and wait for you to smile back. This is a way for her to communicate with you and show pleasure.
Touch has been shown to be very soothing and comforting to babies. When babies are fed, it is comforting for them to hear your calming voice and feel your soothing touch. Always hold your baby in your arms to feed her.
When babies are treated in a loving and sensitive way, it actually helps their brains develop. They learn that they are good at communicating. Babies whose mommies go to them and take care of them when they cry grow up to be happier and smarter.
While you’re a long way from your little one being able to tell you what they need, this month they’re mastering new skills (like smiling!) that make your interactions even more meaningful.
Try these week-by-week tips for your 1-month-old from child development psychologist Dr. Holly Ruhl.
Feeling overwhelmed with your new motherly responsibilities? You aren’t alone! Take a deep breath and find some time to relax with baby. Grab your (now cold) cup of coffee, pop your drowsy little bundle in the baby carrier and find a shady spot to sit outside. You might even find that your newborn cries less when nestled closely to mama and sleeps better amidst the ambient noises!
By now your baby should have some neck control, making this the perfect week to offer a daily massage. Infant massage, in the form of nurturing touch or “baby yoga,” can improve parent-infant interactions, reduce crying, and relieve stress—it’s tough being a newborn! Plus, a bedtime massage can promote relaxation and sleep, so you might score a few extra winks, too!
Unlike adults, infants are innately capable of distinguishing unique sounds from foreign languages until linguistic experiences begin to shrink this ability around 6 months of age. This week, take advantage of baby’s natural propensity for learning languages by exposing those little ears to a variety of new sounds with audiobooks in foreign languages.
Waiting in anticipation for that first smile? This week, wait until baby is alert and try to coax a grin with silly faces and sounds. Baby can see up to 18 inches away now, so make sure baby has a front row seat for the show. If baby begins to squirm, fuss or turn away, take an intermission. Being in sync with baby’s cues is a natural way to promote secure attachment with your infant.
A treat for baby: Tiny Love Soothe ‘n Groove Mobile
Now your baby is capable of moving his head toward sounds and following things with his eyes. Turning on a musical crib mobile is a great go-to daily activity.