Many of the calming techniques suggested in books are things that you may find yourself doing naturally and that your mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother have done for years before you. They are things that you'll see veteran mothers doing absent-mindedly any time they're in the same room with a crying baby...whether they're holding that crying baby or not. They are actions you may use without even realizing that they're techniques. Some of these techniques are:
• Feeding, changing the diaper, putting the baby to sleep before trying anything else, make sure that these basic needs have been met. • Changing the environment over stimulation or boredom can create cranky kids. If the environment is too overwhelming to the senses, turn off the lights, change the music, stop demanding eye contact and interaction, and allow your baby to chill out. If your baby is lacking stimulation, provide something to interact with...keep in mind that your face is the most preferred play item! • Swaddling wrapping your baby firmly provides a similar sensation to the tightness he or she felt when snuggled in your womb. Swaddling can help provide a protected feeling that can regulate and organize behavior. For some babies, swaddling even beyond three or so months is warranted. • Bouncing, swaying, rocking, patting These movements are soothing and again, can mimic the movements your baby experienced while he or she was on the inside. This is why babies will frequently fall asleep in the car or in the stroller (both of which can be good calming strategies). • Shushing, singing A gentle and constant chant in your baby's ear can distract your baby and allow him or her to attend to something other than what's causing the fussing. • Massaging you don't need to have taken any special class to know how to touch your baby and firmly yet gently massage his or her muscles. This kind of deep, yet gentle touch can be calming and can help regulate and organize behavior. Fussiness is a form of communication and frequently, the most powerful and effective way for your baby to get your attention. Teaching your baby early on that his or her needs will be met swiftly and effectively will reduce the necessity for fussing. And on those days that nothing from your bag of tricks seems to work, rule out ear infection and any other physical ailment and then call your local veteran mother to come to the rescue!
Here are some strategies to try:
• Keep routines and structures simple and clear. For some kids, too much time without structure can lead to disorganized behavior. Find ways to create structured activities and assign tasks to everyday routines. • Use frequent physical touching and guiding. Sometimes children need more than just verbal input to process a request. • Establish a Calm-Down spot in your home or classroom. This spot should be free of many visual and auditory distractions but should allow for some movements like jumping, pounding, swinging, rocking, etc. • Continue to use techniques that provide deep pressure, such as swaddling (with a much bigger blanket than you used with your infant!), massage, squishing between sofa cushions, etc. • Provide fidget toys during highly structured activities like circle time or any other setting that requires your child to sit and attend. These items should be small and quiet toys that do not distract other children but that provide some sort of calming stimulation for your child. This can be a Koosh ball, a water tube, a vibrating teether, etc. If your child seems to have extreme difficulty calming, talk to your doctor about your concerns and perhaps follow up with an Occupational Therapy evaluation.
Age: 24 to 36 months
Signs of readiness
• Eagerness to make own food choices
What to feed...
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