When a baby is fussy, parents usually try feeding, using a pacifier, or movement to calm them. However, most do not think of providing stimulation. I give talks where parents are often with their babies and sometimes I ask those with the fussiest to come forward. I then use books to show the babies words and pictures, both teaching and calming them at the same time. In short order, both parents and babies are smiling. The following are my tried and true tips to calming babies.
1) Teach the baby words. Show them a word and point from left-to-right as you say it. If the word is “ears” say, “This is the word ‘ears'” as you point from left-to-right. Show the baby your ears while saying, “These are my ears.” Touch your babies ears while saying, “These are your ears. You hear with your ears.” Next, help the baby touch his or her ears and show them the word again while saying it.
2) Talk with the baby using a happy, high-pitched voice. Smile while holding the baby close to your face.
3) Teach prepositions using objects, body parts and actions. Say, “I am holding a red cup above my head. Now I am holding a blue hat above my head.” Act out each line as you say it. Prepositions help comprehend the meanings of many sentences.
4) Teach logic patterns. For babies under six months of age, one parent can hold the baby upright and say, “one, two” while gently moving the baby from side to side. Instead of saying “three” move the baby close to the other parent’s face. This parent will smile and say “boo.” Repeat the “one, two, boo” pattern in the same way frequently. Babies will eventually figure out the pattern. You can do this with many different patterns. End each pattern by moving the baby close to the other parent’s face while they smile and say a word to the baby.
5) Provide a change of scenery. Take the baby outside and talk to them in a happy, high-pitched voice about what they are seeing.
6) Play in front of a mirror. Describe all of the baby’s senses. Talk about what the baby is looking at, listening to, tasting, touching, or smelling.
7) Listen to music and dance with the baby. Try many different types of music.
8) Play an imitation game with your baby. A simple game is to open your mouth. Get happy and excited when the baby opens their mouth.
9) Count dots. Use a whiteboard or paper and count dots as the baby or toddler makes the dots. You will count at the moment the baby makes the dot.
10) Teach the baby new words while using actions. Walk while holding the baby, taking very large steps and saying “big steps,” then taking very small steps and say “little steps.” Talk to the baby throughout. Next, take fast steps or slow steps while talking to the baby throughout. For older babies and toddlers, allow the child to walk next to you encouraging them to follow your lead and take similar types of steps.