If your a Momma you’ve most likely heard of the “5 S’s” and if you haven’t then this is the post for you because the those very 5 S’s can save any new Momma (or second time Momma like me!) from sleepless nights, hysterical moments, or doubts of motherhood.
When I had my daughter three years ago I didn’t really need to “figure her out” she was what I now call “A Good Baby.” To me that means a baby that is easy to read and is happy when her pants are dry, her belly is full and she’s all comfy womfy. I was new. I never put a lot of thought into Motherhood, read my latest thoughts on that here. When Madison was hungry she would whine, when she was wet she would whine (though after month two she didn’t even seem to care about that!) and occasionally when she was tired she would whine. I emphasis the word “whine” because she wasn’t a cryer. She ate every four hours faithfully for months upon months, every once in a while we would increase her ounces but you could set a clock to her, she ate at 7am, 11am, 3pm and 11pm. It was great for this Type A Momma! I knew when to food shop, I knew when I could shower, nap or make dinner. She even slept through the night (11pm-7am) at 6 weeks old and even better, 7pm to 7am at 12 weeks old. Why I didn’t know she was such a good baby then is beyond me because I was still miserable, and I still complained about the “schedule” I just didn’t know how good I had it…….until I had my “Bad Baby.”
Fast Forward to this past June and meet my Big Guy. He was born in the middle of the night weighing in at 9 lbs 5 oz. He’s still a big boy. The first two weeks I was in my glory. His birth was a breeze compared to his big sisters and he barley cried. I suffered from PPD with my daughter so the first year of her life was tough for me. Read my story here, when I got pregnant with my son, I was deathly afraid of going through this again when I was just starting to feel like a normal human being again. When we got home from the hospital I was just so happy. I lost the 10 lbs I had gained and felt amazing. I was up and walking around, I had this sweet baby boy that I could just stare at for hours upon hours.
Then he woke up.
Have you ever even heard of that? Well I hadn’t. I had no idea the first few weeks of an infants life is pie because they are literally still sleeping and have no clue they were just brought into this world. We fed him, changed him and all he did was sleep. Though he was up every two hours my husband and I took turns so we still got decent sleep. However once he became aware of his surrounds, aka. once he realized he was no longer safely tucked into my belly he turned into a crying, gassy, miserable little/big boy! I instantly thought something was wrong, why was he crying every second he was awake? Why was he screaming so much after every feeding? Was it the formula? Was something hurting him inside and I didn’t know what it was? My heart bled, and many many and I mean many tears later (by me not my baby), three different trips to the doctors, one trip to the ER and many hours of no sleep we found out……..it was nothing. NOTHING. Can you believe it? I felt like an ass. The doctor told me that his digestive system just wasn’t fully developed yet and within time he would get better. Time???? Time? Seriously, I don’t have time Doc!!!! I have a three year old to entertain, my husband was going back to work and I needed some sleep!
I then made a promise to myself that I would stay home and really just get to know my baby for the next week or two, which was hard by the way we were in the middle of August it was summer! Again I never had to do this with my daughter, the doctor told me that the more percentage of infants are like my son and that I just got “lucky” with my daughter. Ok. Ok. I could figure out my own baby. So within those weeks I read a lot articles on line, I asked for lots and lots of advice from fellow Momma friends, I read books published by doctors, I bounced, soothed and sang to my baby boy. I used that time to really get to know him. I read more about the 5 s’s at this point, what they say is it may require all five of the S’s to calm your infant or it may take a few different combinations of them, that it’s really up to the parent to figure out which one or ones your baby is calmed by. According to Dr. Karp:
Dr. Harvey Karp is a board-certified pediatrician, associate professor of pediatrics at UCLA School of Medicine and the author of the book and video, The Happiest Baby on the Block. He dispels a series of myths about newborn babies and shares the five techniques to calm a crying baby:
Myth: The baby is ready to be born after nine months.
Babies are born too soon. Sure, every mother is ready to have her baby after nine months, but babies are not like horses. A horse is ready to run the first day of life. Our babies are fetuses the first few months. They are not ready for the world until three months when they are smiling, cooing and ready to interact. Of course, they have to be born, it’s not an option. But what a parent has to understand is that for the first few months the babies are like a walking uterus. They still need an environment that simulates what they experienced in the womb. Ever notice how a crying baby can sometimes be soothed when you drive them around in your vehicle? The vehicle is like an imitation of the uterus. There is a rhythmic calming sensation that turns on their calming reflex. Other ways to imitate the uterus: holding, dancing, rocking, swinging, white noise or singing.
Myth: Parents know what to do from the beginning.
It’s intuitive to want to calm your baby, it’s not intuitive to know how. That’s a skill. It’s not a hard skill, but it’s something that requires skill. Babies have a calming reflex, like an “off” switch for crying, and it can be triggered by doing the five “S’s.”
Myth: Babies cry because they have gas.
Babies don’t cry because of gas. Sometimes a little gas will trigger the crying, but they don’t go on and on and on because of it. And you know it couldn’t be gas if taking them for a car ride makes them quiet. Pain wouldn’t come and go like that. Pain wouldn’t go away if you turn on a hair dryer, and yet, that noise can calm them.
The 5 “S’s”: How to Turn on Your Baby’s Calming Reflex
1. Swaddling: Wrapping makes your baby feel magically returned to the womb and it will keep your baby from flailing his/her arms. If not done correctly, the baby may cry even harder. Remember to swaddle snuggly. Loose blankets may be a choking risk. Also, don’t overheat your baby. (Babies should never be sweaty and flushed.)
2. Side/Stomach: Newborns are easier to calm when they’re lying on their side or stomach. This triggers the calming reflex by imitating your baby’s position in the uterus. Lying a baby on his/her back can sometimes trigger a falling reflex and make your baby feel insecure. Keep in mind the side/stomach position is great for calming crying, but babies should only sleep on their backs.
3. Shhhh: “Shhhh”ing your baby imitates the sound he/she heard in your uterus, which was as loud as a vacuum cleaner. Place your mouth two to four inches from your baby’s ear and make the “shhhh” sound. It must be loud enough to match the sound of your baby’s crying, or he/she won’t hear it.
4. Swinging: Rhythmic moving imitates the jiggling your baby felt inside the uterus and activates the calming reflex. Ways to use motion are: baby slings and carriers, dancing, infant swings, rocking, car rides, bouncy seats.
5. Sucking: Putting a pacifier, finger or breast into a baby’s mouth satisfies hunger and turns on the calming reflex.
I do believe in 90% of Dr. Karp’s findings. Just given my own experiences. I’m not so sure how much gas my son really had/has, I believe a lot of it has to do with the calming reflex. I believe my needy little man just needed help finding his. For us the S’s that worked were all of them but the Sucking one, he just wouldn’t take a pacifier so I’ve given up on them at this point. Once I started doing the other four on a regular basis, meaning every time he started to cry (after every feeding) I swaddled him, I held him on his side, and shh’ed him. Within 10 minutes he was calmed and usually sleeping.
We also added a tablespoon of cereal into his night time bottle, originally we did it in hopes that it would keep him full longer because he was eating 4 oz every four hours ALL day and ALL night. He’s now 10 weeks old and sometimes STILL does this. However we also noticed that the day we started the cereal, his restless periods he was having after each feeding was decreasing. It went from every single feeding to half of his feedings, to a few, and now it’s NONE. I guess the cereal does help in some ways!
I was so desperate to calm my cranky baby and get some sleep that I was so quick to ask if it was reflux or if he needed meds, I even begged a doctor during one visit! However once I took the time to really get to know him and he got a little older I realized it wasn’t reflux and I silently thanked that doctor for not just prescribing him something. I think now a days way too many babies are diagnosed with reflux. I do know of a lot of really bad severe cases, don’t get me wrong, they are out there, but I’m thankful that since my son wasn’t really vomiting much it was a sign that it wasn’t reflux.
There were times when I felt like an idiot bouncing my son around the room, or felt really bad about shooshing in his ear (he liked it really loud) but it really worked for us. I feel guilty for not taking that time as of day one to get to know my guy however I was overwhelmed with becoming a mommy of two, I was distraught over seeing my baby cry so hard (he is a BIT dramatic) I never dealt with that the first time around, so isn’t it the truth when people say “Every baby is different.” Boy is it and boy did I get two very different babies 🙂 But boy did I get two beautiful babies that I thank my lucky stars for each and everyday.
Now go thank your lucky stars and kiss your babies!