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Alternatives to Swaddling

Motion

Motion often calms infants, and rocking a baby is almost a reflex. Sit in a rocking chair, rock the baby in a cradle or put her in a wind-up swing. You can hold the baby while you dance softly around the room, bounce her gently while holding her close, or just walk with her. You can continue about your household chores while wearing the baby in a sling or other carrier; the motion of your movement will soothe her.

Rituals

If you always follow the same pattern when putting your baby to sleep, this pattern will become a comforting ritual that will signal to your baby that bedtime is approaching. Give the baby a bath, put him into his pajamas, feed him, tell him a story and sing him a song. Experiment to see what calms your baby and then do that at bedtime every night.

Sounds

Before birth, a baby is surrounded by the sound of her mother's heartbeat and the muted noise of the outside world, so perfectly silent bedrooms may not be as relaxing as parents assume. Try playing a “baby sound” CD featuring soft music and a recorded heartbeat, or use a classical-music CD — don't put on the radio, though, as the commercials and news are distracting. White noise is very calming, so try using static from the radio or TV, a fan aimed away from the baby, or even the vacuum cleaner. Possibly the best sound for comforting fussy babies is their parents' voices, so don't be afraid to sing lullabies; your baby won't care if you're tone-deaf.

Skin-to-Skin Contact

Babies, particularly newborns, are comforted by skin-to-skin contact. Hold the baby (dressed only in a diaper) against your chest, where she can feel your skin. If you are in a semi-public spot, a woman can wear a bathing-suit top or a spaghetti-strapped shirt; it's not necessary to be completely topless, just to have enough skin exposed that the baby can lay against it. This technique works equally well for fathers who are calming cranky babies.

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