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Connecting with My Newborn










QUESTION:

My wife and I just had our first baby this week, and I gotta tell you, I love my son more than I thought it possible to love a person. However, nothing has ever made me question myself as much as our fussy new man. Is it normal to feel unsure of oneself, or even slightly afraid, when the baby is screaming his head off, and is only able to be consoled by mom? He's 8 pounds and admittedly, there are times he scares the hell out of me.

What kinds of bonding activities can I use with my son to become more soothing to him when he's getting fussy? My poor wife needs a break, and I want to be able to give that to her and start building a strong connection with my son.




ANSWER:

When learning to handle your crying baby, it's totally normal to be unsure and afraid, and it can even seem like he is screaming at you. The love you feel makes it even harder because it can also feel like you are letting your son down.

Not to worry, you will become an expert over the next weeks as you develop techniques for helping him calm down and what works will inform you on why he is crying in the first place. You will soon figure out when it is feeding time; if mom is breastfeeding, you can get in on the act at three weeks if she pumps. Nothing like food to quiet a crying baby. When crying after he is fed, try ways of comforting him like swaddling, rocking, walking, changing, using your (clean) finger like a pacifier, laying him on your chest and patting his back, etc. Wrap him in his baby blanket; getting him warm will help make him sleepy. Put him crying in the stroller, put on head phones and go out the door and around the block. Typically he will fall asleep on the ride (though he might wake up as soon as the stroller stops or you put him down on cold sheets) a little creativity goes a long way.

You two will naturally work together as you try out stuff and he lets you know what works. Burping is classic; you pat his back, get that first "urrp" and soon you two have calibrated up to a back thump. This is added to your walking routine to significantly reduce his crying duration and intensity. You will continually get better, and at some point when he cries, your immediate thought might become "dad to the rescue". It will feel great to make your baby happy. Keep at it and you will.

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