Babies cry. And cry. There's no getting around this fact. That's the only mode of communication babies have to tell us when they're unhappy, hungry, wet, sick, scared, lonely, tired, in pain, overstimulated, too hot or too cold. Whew. Those are a lot of feelings to have!
Sometimes babies cry even when parents have exhausted the checklist of what could possibly be wrong. And this is when sometimes parents lose it too. But there is hope and help!
There are lots of techniques to sooth a fussy baby. One, in particular, is my favorite. It's free, easy and also usually makes parents feel good too.
During this time of COVID-19, going outside can be fraught with additional worries. So step outside to where you feel safe - whether it's your backyard, local park, front stoop, balcony, or neighborhood sidewalks.
This is why it works. Being indoors can be overstimulating for some babies. Sometimes, we aren't even aware of it. The bright light of the tv, the dishwasher and washing machine running, the oven timer beeping, the cell phone dinging with a new message, the toys crinkling or singing, the ice maker dropping more ice into the bin. Parents can also be distracted by the things they need to do in the house.
As adults, we don't hear these sounds as jarring and we often welcome the tv screen to keep us company. But babies are sensitive to the new world around them, experiencing these sensations for the first time.
The sights, sounds, smells and feel of the outdoors has the power to sooth a baby's senses and calm them. Whether it's the hum of traffic or the birds' songs; a gentle breeze or the humidity; the smell of wet grass or the sweetness of a flowerbed, all these can be particularly alluring for a cranky baby. Nature can be a salve for an unhappy infant and adult, alike.
A Finland study showed that babies who napped outside slept longer than when they napped indoors. This practice of sleeping outdoors begins at 2 weeks of age, even in the Nordic winter. Being outdoors, particularly in nature, has the ability to calm, recharge and refresh all of us like nothing else can.
Whether you're wearing your baby in a carrier, pushing them in a stroller or holding them in your arms, go outside for a fresh-air break. It just may put a smile on both your faces.