Friday, January 18, 2008

Fatherhood #5, or, Get Your Skill On

As I type, my baby Piper is fast asleep at my side. Literally, she is on my hip in a cool contraption called the Ergo Baby Carrier. It's a gift from the Gods. It lets me walk around and do things, while being able to care for, see and cuddle my child anytime. She's warm against my body (and I'm warm against hers, keeping us both cozy), and she almost always falls asleep in the carrier. This is a device that lends a very important helping hand, making 3 people happy at the same time. But this device is not enough.

Our new incredible (Insert-Calming-Device-Here) can be a great tool for keeping your baby happy, but when that doesn't do the trick, what else have you got in your bag? Better be able to answer this question, and have a few extra tricks on top of that one. My personal favorite is the Rebounder Method. Basically, anything that you can personally do to keep the baby happy for 30 minutes at a time is what you're looking for.

I can't stress the point enough, you HAVE to find a way to get your baby happy without milk. Feeding is great, but you (if you're a father) don't have breasts and you never will. I know that hurts to hear and may be surprising to discover. If you don't have breasts, then you can't pump milk either, so that's another method you can't control. You must find a way that works for everyone (throwing baby in the air works for about 5 minutes, but doesn't make mom happy and can't be sustained for 30 minutes, so it's not a viable option). Do you have a rocking chair? A yoga ball? Strong arms? Figure something out, man. Ask your parents what worked for them to keep you happy/calm. Ask your wife's parents too. Get 5 techniques, minimum. I don't know how long the Ergo carrier or Rebounder Method are going to work, so I have a few more as backup. (The car idea is also not sustainable, just in case you're wondering. It works when it works, but you can't in good conscience drive your kid around whenever they are upset.)

Frankly, in addition to you as the father taking on new role as diaper changer (which I highly recommend you consider as, again, you cannot breastfeed), the Calming Technique Guy is pretty much your main new identity. Clearly, supporting your wife/partner in their calming methods is a good idea (getting them the tools they need when they need them), but your own worth as a father may be at stake here in the early stages of parenting. If I'm coming off sounding urgent or even desperate, it's because this is a very important understanding to come to.

If you have some favorite techniques for calming your baby, please post a comment, I will check this entry often.



littleone said...

Motion seems to be the cure doesn't it? Obviously it depends on what kind of upset the baby is, but one thing that I often used when I was babysitting was putting my mouth close to her head or back and making a humming sound. The vibrations really mellowed her out. When you get good at it you can sing at the same time!

Aaron, ABC, the glowplug, or {∞} said...

Yep, motion is the biggie for our baby. The other one is heat. Sound is sorta neutral at this point, with a rhythmic "shhhhh" working about half the time to calm her. I'll try humming instead of singing next time. On another note, we have this vibrating chair that works some of the time, but is devoid of heat and sound...

Kate said...

We couldn't have done it without our Moby wrap or our yoga ball. Asher wanted to be bounced. And I mean, BOUNCED. Our butts literally left contact with the yoga ball. It's what kept him happy for months. The moby wrap kept him tight and snug against our chests and he slept there for the first three months of his life.

Sammy said...

just checked in to see how piper is doing..last time i heard she was still in her mommy! very happy to hear all are well. and re. this topic, i am reminded about watching a friend of mine (who is a naturopath) bounce his baby to sleep while humming and bouncing on a yoga ball. what surprised me was not this, but how forcefully he bounced...i would never have thought to put so much motion into the bounce, but he knows what he is doing, holding the baby securely of course. the intensity of the movement seemed to transform the baby's state, and she stopped crying almost immediately and was asleep in a moment. it was almost like there was too much motion for the baby to physically cry or do anything but give in to sleep. womb-like, i imagine. i'll definitely try that with my next one (should such a thing ever happen) -s.