Sometimes baby just needs a hug.
Some babies need constant hugs.
And sometimes Mommy just needs baby to sleep. For a little longer then she did yesterday. Please?
You and your baby want the same thing: contentment. For baby, the ultimate contentment, the ultimate hug, was what she experienced when she lived in her own apartment, (aka “the womb”). Since your newborn can’t go “home” again, her new neighbors (aka “family”) will just have to find ways to help her settle in until she learns how to comfort herself.
Swaddling a baby in a lightweight, preferably 100% natural-fiber blanket or sheet will help you both achieve your goals. Baby will feel safer and self-contained again. Mom will be able to relax and trust the longer nap that baby drifts into.
As your baby adjusts to daily rhythms, relationships, and your cues (she’ll begin to react to the signals of meal time), she will also learn to associate comfort, then security, then a good sleep, with the very process of having you wrap her snugly.
Babies show up equipped with strategies and tools to help them survive. Everything from way extra brain cells, to a willingness to suck the milk out a knuckle, to the Moro reflex, a mechanism that causes a new baby to flail her limbs (in search of balance? in an attempt to cling to a big person?) when startled by a feeling of falling or other sudden events.
Like I said, it’s a reflex — therefore, not entirely under your newborn’s control. Babies have been known to wake themselves from an otherwise successful nap with twitches and involuntary movements. Parents need to find that delicate balance between a snug swaddle and baby’s personal needs. Some infants will find it tragically disruptive not to be able to access a hand or thumb for sucking (which is self-soothing, and should be encouraged).
The words “swaddle” and “swath” have the same Old English linguistic roots. In agriculture, a swath is a strip of land that has been demarcated or cleared. The ancients used strips of fabric to wrap around newborns, thereby binding babies’ arms to their torsos. Modern updates of the swaddling method are obviously much safer than the possibilities of loosened fabrics strips and the potential dangers.
For an important list of how-to’s (AND how not-to’s) on swaddling, see the MommyGarten.com blogroll for a link to a site that is all about the swaddle.
to be continued…..
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